The Rob Guest Endowment annual gala concert will take place on Monday November 9, 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 $20,000 and 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.
Our first featured finalist for 2015 is 22 year old Daniel Assetta, who is about to star as Rum Tum Tugger in the Australian tour of CATS and recently appeared in the Australian tour of WICKED.
1. When did you know you wanted to become a performer?
I started dancing at a very young age and the world of performing very quickly became the focus. As a child nothing excited me more than putting on a show for my family and friends or in front of my school classmates. Looking back now its crazy to think of the confidence I had. But I guess it was my passion and love for music and performing at this age that focused my goals for the future. Performing on stage is so special to me and is a feeling like no other and so I really wanted to make sure that it became part of my everyday life.
2. What made you decide to apply for the Rob Guest Endowment?
I really believe that the Rob Guest Endowment is an incredible initiative that has been created to support upcoming talent in our musical theatre industry. It gives performers recognition and exposure in a different way allowing everyone to see the direction you personally would like to head in the future. The process also brings a massive learning experience with it giving us the chance to work one on one with an exceptional creative team.
3. What would your dream song to sing at the finals be and why?
Memphis Lives In Me from the musical Memphis. I got to see this show whilst in London a couple of months ago and it really hit me as an audience member. Such a special song about not wanting to leave a place that means so much to you. Being on tour is always so much fun but you do miss home and it’s the place that will always feel comfortable. Its also a great sing and I’m all up for having a smart belt in a song.
4. You’ve been a part of Wicked, which has been such a phenomenon in Australia. What was your most surreal moment as part of the cast?
Being part of WICKED was one of the most incredible experiences to date. As my first professional show I was really blessed to be able to learn so much from one of the greatest shows of our generation. Couldn’t think of a better way to be introduced to the world of theatre. My most surreal moment was definitely the first Opening Night. I just was so overwhelmed with excitement to be part of the show from the moment the overture started to the final belt of the three ‘WICKED’s. And then getting to do that everyday for almost 2 years was very special and will always be an important part of my career.
5. And soon you’ll be in Australia performing Cats, another phenomenon! How are you preparing for the new show?
Well currently I am in Auckland, New Zealand where we have just recently launched the new tour of the revival of CATS. It’s been a really intense process but I have loved every minute of it. I get the absolute pleasure of bringing the new street ‘Rum Tum Tugger’ to life on the other side of the world. Andrew Lloyd Webber decided last year when they opened the show at the Palladium in London that the character needed to be brought into the modern day and therefore changed his appearance, amended the number to include rap verses and a bit of hip hop and presented the Tugger as a fun, cheeky, rebellious kitten. And it has been so creatively fulfilling to be able to create this new character. I love it and can’t wait to perform it back in Australia.
6. This can be a very tough industry. What keeps you going? What keeps you sane?
It most definitely is. What keeps me going is the fact that I love everything about this industry and I constantly look for ways to be involved. Whether it is through teaching young kids to sing and dance, or choreographing for an event or recording covers of songs. As long as I am doing something that has to do with music and performance I am happy. So I think that’s what keeps me going and in turn makes my passion stronger.
7. Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
My only constant performance ritual that I have would be that I really enjoy getting into the zone with some music. I have a couple of different playlists depending on the way I feel. Sometimes it will be a chilled out relaxed vibe (Jason Mraz, John Mayer, Ed Sheeren) or it will be the exact opposite to get me pumped up (Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars).
8. What’s your dream role, regardless of age, gender, or any other factors?
A couple of years ago was the first time I had ever watched the televised Tony Awards show and that year Andrew Rannells sang ‘I Believe’ from The Book of Mormon. I was so inspired and immediately fell in love with the show. Since then I have been lucky enough to see it both in New York and in London. It’s such a clever show with a great book and an incredible score. So my dream role would be to play Elder Price in The Book of Mormon.
9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Never force anything. Give it your best shot and then let it be. If its meant to be, it will be” In this industry its very easy to get caught up in auditions and worrying about small things. But I always like to remember this. We all have a destiny and when the time is right for something to happen it will. I’m a strong believer in that.
10. Why does musical theatre matter?
It is personally the best form of entertainment where you can let yourself be immersed by a story created by talented performers through the form of choreography, incredible music, set and costumes. It has always been an important part of culture around the world and I am so happy that it is growing in Australia with the sudden burst of shows over the last couple of years. It provides so much enjoyment for people like me who couldn’t think of any better way to conduct their day other than singing, acting and dancing about it!
Follow the Rob Guest Endowment official Instagram account to see each of the 6 finalists ‘takeover’ for a week leading up to the concert…
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@dassetta – I was very fortunate and blessed to have been part of the Australasian tour of WICKED for the last two years. It was an incredible learning experience and it definitely inspired me to continue working towards my goals! #RGE15 #RobGuestEndowment #WhoWillWin #WickedinOz
For more information, visit robguestendowment.com.au