The Rob Guest Endowment annual gala concert is just weeks away and it’s going to be a night to remember in the Aussie Musical Theatre calendar. The big event is all set for Monday November 14, where six finalists — emerging stars of Australian musical theatre — will take the stage at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre to compete for a a prize package of over $50,000,
Previous winners of the top prize include Daniel Assetta, Joshua Robson, Samantha Leigh Dodemaide, Glenn Hill, Blake Bowden, Francine Cain and Danielle Matthews.
Now let’s get to know one of our future stars: Genevieve Kingsford! Hailing from Melbourne, Genevieve studied at London School of Musical Theatre and is about to make a splash as the star of The Light in the Piazza.
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Melbourne. After my undergraduate degree at Monash University I went to study at the London School of Musical Theatre. It was a complete back-flip – my bachelor was in Behavioural Neuroscience with a double major in Physiology and Behavioural Neuroscience. I returned from London in 2015 and since then everything has been coming up roses. I can’t wait to visit London in 2017.
When did you know you wanted to be a performer?
At 19 I decided to pursue performing professionally. It has been a huge part of my life since I was 11. I first got the MT bug playing a leading role in my Grade 6 musical and a year later I started singing lessons. My best subjects at school were chemistry and maths, so I pursued them in my tertiary studies. I loved my undergraduate degree, and feel the behavioural studies has helped my performance technique, however, for the sheer love of it, I knew I had to give performing a crack!
What does Rob Guest’s legacy mean to you?
The compassionate nature of this Endowment is what his legacy means to me. There is an understanding that, for young people pursuing this career, there are challenges. Supporting promising young performers is vital to the growth of the musical theatre industry. It’s a fickle business and we need to champion the next generation to keep this enriching art form thriving.
Who is your hero?
Judy Garland – what a star! She was born to perform. Completely at home in her craft. Her ease, her joy, and her eccentricity. She was unstoppable.
What is your all-time favourite memory of being onstage?
I performed at the What’s On Stage Awards in London, 2015, at the Prince Edward Theatre with my cast of Sweeney Todd. It was exhilarating to perform for London’s A-list! Our production went on to win Best Off-West End Production. We were also nominated for best revival of a musical but were bested by the West End production of Miss Saigon.
This can be a tough industry. What keeps you going?
We face a lot of rejection in this industry, but the knock-backs are not the sum of your worth. You must be kind and encourage yourself. If you can walk out of an audition and say “That was really fun, I’m so glad I got to perform and show me at my best” – then you have succeeded.
What are you currently singing in the shower?
Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton. Cannot get enough of it. The soundtrack is my favourite diction exercise. Also, Bridges of Madison County – it has the goddess herself Kelli O’Hara, hunk Steven Pasquale and written by the legend JRB [Jason Robert Brown]. Love it.
You’re appearing in The Light in the Piazza. What was your favourite thing about doing the show?
Yes, Light in the Piazza is coming up! I cannot wait to get working with the whole production team and cast. So far, I have been having coachings with the infallible Music Director Vanessa Scammel as well as doing a lot of my own pre-show work. It is my number one dream role. I am so overwhelmed that I get to play Clara, and with this company, it’s surreal.
Do you have any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
No superstitions as such. I drink green tea with honey and lemon, even when I’m not sick, because I find it soothing and there’s a tonne of vitamin C in lemons. I actually tend to indulge in the opposite of the dairy superstition! I LOVE chocolate and will eat it at the theatre before or during a show.
Why does musical theatre matter?
Performance arts are cathartic, we go to involve ourselves in the emotion of a story, and have human experiences we may not have otherwise had. Having the story told through song embellishes the experience. Music speaks a language words sometimes cannot. ‘Life depends on science but the arts make it worth living’ (John Martin).