The Rob Guest Endowment annual concert will take place on Monday October 13, where six finalists — emerging stars of Australian musical theatre — will take the stage to show their skills and compete for a prize package that includes a cash prize of $20,000 for the winner’s personal development, as well as a headshot package from Blueprint Studios.
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 chat to Ben Bennett. Best known for his successful stint on The Voice Australia. Last year he was the recipient of the Showbiz International Future Prospect Award in the Rob Guest Endowment, and now he’s one of the six finalists. We caught up with him to find out what he’s been up to in the year since that moment.
When did you know you wanted to become a performer?
After playing Gavroche in Townsville’s Community theatre production of Les Miserables when Iwas 12; I knew that this was something I wanted to do and be involved in for the rest of my life.
What made you apply for the Rob Guest Endowment?
There really isn’t any bigger platform for up and coming musical theatre performers in Australia.RGE is a unique and nurturing environment and offers an opportunity to showcase yourself to some of the leading professionals in the theatre industry; you’d be mad not to audition and give it your best shot.
What would becoming the recipient of the endowment mean to you?
Receiving the award this year would be absolutely incredible! To be in the top 6 is already such a huge honour and achievement. Winning would give me an opportunity to travel and hone my skills further in order to become a leading Australian musical theatre performer.
How long did it take you to decide what to sing at the gala?
Throughout the audition process I have had in mind the songs I would like to be able to perform should I be fortunate enough to get into the finals, so I guess it’s hard to put a time frame onto it. Song choice is such an important step in showcasing yourself, not only to show your singing, acting and performance skills but more importantly to be able to tell the audience a story.
You were the recipient of the 2013 Rob Guest Endowment Semifinals Encouragement Award. How has your year been since?
It’s been a big year. I was given invaluable advice and guidance in areas I needed to work on by the judges. I took this all on board and I’ve worked really hard on improving myself over the year in all facets of the industry, I’ve also done some work in screen/theatre and worked on my own music. I’m really excited to showcase myself at this year’s concert.
If you could play any role, regardless of age or gender constraints, what would it be?
If I could play any role it would either be Elder Price from The Book of Mormon or Jean Valjean from Les Miserables.
What is your favourite role you’ve ever played?
My favourite roles I’ve played have been Evan Goldman in The McDonald College’s production of 13 The Musical! It was so much fun! Also, Jean Valjean for Ravenswood Girls School’s production of Les Miserables.
Tell us about your most memorable moment in the theatre – as an audience member or performer.
My most memorable moment would be when I was 13 and my family flew down from Townsville to see Billy Elliot at the Capitol. That was the moment that my life changed; I was mesmerised and on the back of the programme was an advert announcing scholarships to McDonald College. I convinced my mum to let me audition, I was awarded a scholarship and my family and I then moved to Sydney to attend the Performing Arts School.
What’s your current belt-it-out-in-the-shower song?
My current belt it out in the shower song is definitely “Someone Else’s Skin” from Catch Me If You Can.
This is a tough industry. What keeps you going?
My family is definitely what keeps me going. They’ve always been my biggest support and my biggest inspiration. I wouldn’t be where I was today without them.