Opera Australia and John Frost’s production of The King and I opened in Brisbane last month, marking the professional music theatre debut of many up-and-coming performers. AussieTheatre is thrilled to be featuring a new interview series entitled Getting To Know You to introduce these new artists to their music theatre audience!
Today we chat with 2103 WAAPA dance graduate Elle Evangelista, who also holds a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English, from the University of Western Australia. A talented choreographer and performer, Elle has worked extensively in her hometown of Perth in commercial and contemporary dance and puts her BA in English to use as a writer for the Dance Magazine Dance Informa.
Getting to know you
What is your role in the production?
I am in the ensemble. This includes being the fish sauce seller in the dock scene, a wife and also the rain/forest in Uncle Tom’s Ballet.
When did you know you wanted to become a performer?
When I was 18. I was in Sydney for a dance camp in the holidays, we were doing classes and I went back to our apartments one night and I rang my Mum and told her that I really wanted to do dance and perform as a profession. Although I had been dancing since I was 4, it was never something I had considered as a career. At the time of my decision I had started a univeristy degree which I completed before beginning full time training.
Where did you train?
I trained at WAAPA in the dance course. Seann (who is also in the cast) was in the same year as me, however, he was in the Musical Theatre course. We both completed our studies at WAAPA in November last year.
What was your reaction when you discovered you had been cast in this show?
I was so overwhelmed with happiness. I heard about the auditions on Friday morning and the auditions were in 4 days time on Tuesday. So on a whim, I decided to fly from Perth to Sydney to audition. After a week of callbacks, my boyfriend and I were on our way to the beach and I checked my emails in the car. I saw that I had an email from Neil and then I don’t really know what happened after because I just started crying! He tells me that all I said was “I got an email from Neil. I got the job.” I re-read it and re-read it and then called my Mum while still blubbering with tears. I flew home to Perth that night completely on cloud 9.
[pull_left]That was big learning curve for me, how dependent we all are on each other on stage no matter how big or small your role may seem[/pull_left]
Your first musical theatre job has you performing with award winning veterans of the stage and screen – Lisa McCune, Marty Rhone, Teddy Tahu Rhodes and John Adam – what have you learnt from working with such an experienced cast?
There is a scene that some of the girls and I do after Mrs Anna has had a disagreement with the King and thinks about leaving Siam. Lisa has all the lines and sings the song of the scene solo. Every time before we run or perform the scene she asks us if there is anything she can do to help with any of the props we handle or if anything didn’t work. It goes to show that although there are ‘stars’ of the show, we all have to work as an ensemble to make the scene and the whole production be a success. That was big learning curve for me, how dependent we all are on each other on stage no matter how big or small your role may seem.
The King and I features an incredible 15 minute Jerome Robbins ballet in Act 2 – how do you keep yourself fit and ready for performance every night?
I am the resident bike rider of the ensemble! I brought my road bike with me from Sydney and it will be coming with me for the entire tour. I ride to and from work everyday. I’ll also ride to Pilates twice a week, do yoga the days I don’t go to Pilates, fit in a weekly ballet class and just ride around the city for fun. All the ensemble work is very heavy on the knees, so bike riding is great strengthening for the muscles that keep the knee in alignment. It’s also a great way to see the city!
Describe the production for us in three words
Opulent. Moving. Memorable.
What has been the most exciting/memorable moment so far (rehearsals or at the theatre)?
Our final rehearsal in Sydney was very special. It was the first time family and friends were invited to see the work in progress and to see them respond so well to the show even before we were on the stage was so encouraging. You have this moment where you think “are people going to like it” and to see some of our close family and friends give us a standing ovation in the rehearsal room just shows how moving the script and music are even by themselves. It was very special to share that final rehearsal with them.
Is there anything you have learned during this contract about the music theatre (or theatre) industry which surprised you?
I thought I would have more free time! In fact I don’t. it’s more than just turning up to work at your hour call and putting on your make up. Even with 8 shows a week, there is no night where the show is ever the same, we are always evolving the show and trying to make it better. We still have rehearsals during the day and media calls, warm ups, going over notes, understudy rehearsals and also finding time to keep fit and do grocery shopping!
What is your go-to ‘belt it out in the shower’ song?
Colours of the Wind from Pocahontas.
Elle and fellow cast member Tess Duddy have recently collaborated with each other on a new creative project – Bobby and Tell – which will be officially at The King and I’s opening night in Melbourne.
Like their official Facebook Page and await the launch of this exciting new project!
For more information about The King and I and to book tickets for Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, visit thekingandimusical.com.au