Alinta Chidzey on theatre, music, and all that jazz!

If you look up the word “versatile” in the dictionary, there should be a photo of Alinta Chidzey.

In her years as a performer, she has appeared in an insanely wide array of roles across both stage and screen, as well as performing at various concert events. Early stage credits include the Australasian Tour of Mamma Mia!, Demeter in Cats, and the Holland season of Dirty Dancing.

She’s become a staple to The Production Company, starring in an array of roles including Mary Magdalene (Jesus Christ Superstar) Magnolia (Show Boat) and Kathy Selden (Singin’ In The Rain), Svetlana (Chess), Niki Harris (Curtains) and, most recently, Sibella (A Gentlemen’s Guide To Love And Murder), for which she won a Green Room Award for Best Female Artist in a Supporting Role.

Alinta is arguably most known for her sassy portrayal as Anita in West Side Story, a performance for which she won the Australian Dance Award for Most Outstanding Performance, and was nominated for a a Helpmann, a Green Room Award and a Sydney Theatre Award.

Recently announced as Australia’s Velma Kelly, Alinta has a fair bit on before she heads to the cell block. In July, she’ll be gracing the MTC stage as Petra in Sondheim’s classic A Little Night Music alongside some of Australia’s most respected performers, and later this month she is launching an album with her band The Jazz Emperors.

But before any of that, she will be singing at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Morning Melodies next week. Accompanied by her band, Alinta will perform a tribute to divas of jazz.

How are you feeling about 2019 so far?

This a massive year. It’s amazing, it’s very full with a lot of creative things that i’m very grateful for. It’s one of those times where everything just aligns, which is a miracle in this industry. Usually I can’t do one because I’m doing another, but here everything just worked out.

You have sung in so many different styles across your career! How is that for you?

I like to be a chameleon. I like to not just feel like I’m stuck in one box. I guess that’s why I do so many things – when I’m not doing theatre I work with my band [The Jazz Emperors] and write new music. I don’t like to feel limited in the diversity of what I can do vocally and performance wise. The things I get around to… I’ll just try any style. I love the challenge of it, and I love flexing my muscles to try emulate that particular part of my voice.

What helps you switch between different styles?

I would say being able to listen to the different tones of these pieces is really important. I think knowing the time and eras it’s from is probably the main thing. The understanding of the placement of where it is, researching it. If it’s a show I’ll research the era and location and different cultural influences it had. And stylistically, I’ll do some coaching in the area and make sure I’m singing in that style.

Alinta Chidzey as Velma, Cast Donovan as Mama Morton and Natalie Bassingthwaighte as Roxie | Photo by Peter Brew Bevan
Alinta Chidzey as Velma, Cast Donovan as Mama Morton and Natalie Bassingthwaighte as Roxie | Photo by Peter Brew Bevan

Chicago coming to Australia is absolutely huge. Are you excited to play Velma?

It’s an iconic piece that I’ve always wanted to do. the fact that It’s finally come to the right place and time in my life is a dream really. I’m ecstatic. It’s definitely a show that’s been done, but it’s one where the music is so fantastic. Even though we did the launch the other week, there are so many songs in that show that are so good that you almost forget until you hear them again. I can’t wait to see them come alive again, because every time it’s done it’ll be different because of the people and the take on it. I want to bring my own flair to Velma. It’s going to be so fun working with Natalie [Bassingthwaite] and Casey [Donovan], they’re just great people. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. And the creatives are fantastic… the audition process was more of a workshop than an audition, and I really take to that because I feel like I’m growing by learning, I’m not there to prove anything, I’m there to collaborate. I think that’s a great energy to have in a room.

You’re actually working on A Little Night Music first, aren’t you? What are you looking forward to with that?

A Little Night Music, stylistically, is definitely more ‘legit.’ I’m working with Simon, who I did my first show with. I haven’t worked with Ali McGregor before, and Verity [Hunt-Ballard] who I know, but haven’t actually been able to do a show with.

Has there been a particular role or show that’s stuck with you?

For me, playing Anita in West Side Story was always one that I’ve been very connected to. I think the actual piece itself, the music, choreography, the book, they’re so strong. And it still is. It’s such a powerful piece and is one of the few musicals where I feel like all the elements came together with how impactful it was to audiences, as well as for performers to be a part of. It’s another show for me where I got to exercise all my skills, with dancing, singing and acting to a very high standard. It’s a challenging piece for that reason, you have to keep all your skills up to a high level. That’s definitely a highlight. But then also A Gentlemen’s Guide [To Love and Murder], I had so much fun with that last year [laughs] I don’t think I’ve laughed so much from rehearsals to the show. Working with the fantastic Chris Ryan and Mitchel Butel was just outstanding. Another show where, for such a short rehearsal period, it came together so quickly. the costumes and the set were so amazing. The book is so funny… It’s not a show where you go away remembering the songs, but everyone went away laughing and that’s such a gift to give to an audience as well as myself!

Gareth Keegan and Alinta Chidzey in Showboat. Image by Belinda Strodder

What we can expect from your upcoming Morning Melodies performance?

It’s a combination of things. All the songs that I’ve selected are songs by women who have influenced my life. They’re all iconic women who have made a stamp and their music has stood the test of time, really. My husband is the music director and saxophonist for my band, and he arranges the music and reimagines it in a jazz style. So it’s a bit of a spin on the music that we’ve chosen. They’ve all got a bit of a twist to them! And I’ve thrown one of our own [originals] into the mix of the divas!

How has it been performing with your husband?

It’s been amazing. We started playing about 7 years ago together. We’re releasing our first album on the 26th of April, we’re doing an album launch of our own original album. It’s been great to work together. He understands my world, as much as being a part of it. He’s originally from Holland and I dragged him to the other side of the world to live here! Although I did live over there and did Dirty Dancing in Holland about 9 years ago. It’s been a great process to work and create and write and perform together.


Alinta performs at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Morning Melodies on Monday 15th April for 2 shows only (11 am and 1:30). For tickets and more information, visit the Arts Centre Melbourne website.

Click here for more information and tickets for  A Little Night Music.

For more information and tickets for on Chicago visit: Chicagothemusical.com.au

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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