Samm Hagen: Rob Guest Endowment Finalist 2012

The much lauded Rob Guest Endowment annual concert will take place on 19 November 2012, where six finalists — emerging stars of Australian musical theatre — will take the stage to show their skills and compete for  the opportunity to study in New York under the guidance of the best that Broadway has to offer to the value of $10,000.

Samantha Hagen

AussieTheatre’s Cassie Tongue asked ten questions of each finalist, in the lead-up to the concert, to find out about their lives, careers, and how they’re preparing for the high-calibre event.

Today, we get to know Samantha Hagen, mostly recently seen in the musical smash Rock of Ages, and soon to be in the new, gigantic musical King Kong.

Tell us your favourite thing about being a performer.

So many reasons! The elaborate costumes and wigs, the people, the different characters you get to play, the fact that you never know what’s going to happen during a show… The list goes on! I also enjoy having people come up to me after a show and telling me I made them happy. That makes me feel great.

What made you apply for the Rob Guest Endowment process?

I hadn’t been old enough to apply up until last year, but I was doing Rock of Ages, so this year was my year!

How are you preparing for the upcoming concert? Any new rituals or routines?

Singing lessons are a must, at least once a week. I’ve just been doing a lot of research into the songs I want to perform and trying to keep myself focused by going to the gym!

Rock Of Ages is a show bursting with energy and classic rock tunes. What was your favourite part of being involved with the show?

Ha! You’re telling me! There were SO many reasons I fell in love with Rock Of Ages. When the auditions came around in Australia, there wasn’t an option… I was going to be in it! I loved working with the Broadway creatives, it’s such a rare opportunity. The cast on this show were incredible

, they’re my second family. We all kept each other going. But my two stand-out moments were definitely opening night, and my first time going on for Sherrie. Totally unforgettable.

Everyone has a list of favourite musicals. Which musical do you love that you think more people should know about?

I love listening to the Brooklyn soundtrack. It’s a live cast recording (I LOVE live cast recordings!), and I could listen to Eden Espinosa sing all day…

What’s your go-to, belt-it-out-in-the-shower song?

At the moment, I CANNOT stop singing ‘Pulled’ from The Addams Family. I also have some friends in Legally Blonde, so now I can’t stop singing ‘So Much Better’. It’s addictive!

What was the best thing for you about training at Brent Street?

The atmosphere, especially at the high school. Those are memories I’ll have with me forever. Everyday, I felt like I was walking into the school from Fame. The teachers were so brilliant, and the kids were so inspiring. You just wanted to work hard everyday.

What inspires you to keep working in this notoriously difficult industry?

I always feel inspired when I go and watch shows. I walk out feeling so proud that I get to do what I do, and it also makes me want to work hard so I can stay in the industry! I think going to watch shows is a reminder of past shows you’ve done, and how amazing it was to be apart of it. I also think about what’s to come. I get excited and inspired listening to and researching shows that are making their way over to Australia.

Tell us about your most memorable moment in the theatre – as an audience member or performer.

I remember when I was 15 or so, I got to go backstage at Wicked in the Regent Theatre. I was shown the wig room, where the costumes were, all that jazz… And then I was shown the stage. As I stood there, centre stage (and humming ‘The Wizard and I’ to myself), I knew it’s exactly where I belong. And NOW, I’m doing King Kong in the same theatre! It’s so exciting to know that a dream of mine is coming true!

What’s number one on your ‘bucket list’?

If it were my ‘Theatre Bucket List’, it would be performing a leading role on Broadway, or originating a role in a new musical or play.

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Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue