The Rob Guest Endowment annual gala concert is fast approaching! The big event 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.
Today we feature our fourth finalist for 2015, the delightful Hilary Cole, has starred in some of Sydney’s most exciting independent theatrical productions, including The Drowsy Chaperone, Carrie, Dogfight and Miracle City.
1. When did you know you wanted to become a performer?
Birth. I’m fairly certain they were playing the RENT soundtrack during labor (Oh gosh that would be harrowing! I take it back!) because its just so firmly implanted in me. I guess I have genetics to blame for that
2. What made you apply for the Rob Guest Endowment?
It’s a competition I have always followed very closely. I really admire what it is doing for performers in this country. It’s something that it exciting, and developmental, and based around you and your skills as opposed to how well you fit a brief. I think it injects a certain buzz into the industry each year and that’s something I wanted to be a part of.
3. How are you preparing for the upcoming concert? Any new rituals or routines?
There isn’t enough room on this page. I know have a specific outfit for my pre-audition walks around the park, a million and one herbal remedies and warm drinks to keep me at the top of my game, but the key for me is A LOT of practice. I have been singing my songs everywhere. At work, in the bathroom, walking down the street, just before I go to bed… my poor flat mate.
4. You’ve played some complex characters, like Rose in Dogfight and Carrie in Carrie. What draws you to these nuanced, deep roles?
I am a painfully curious creature, and I am definitely drawn to the outer most parameters of the emotional spectrum. I figured out pretty early on that as much as I love playing the ingenue, I couldn’t let them just be all about love and lust. I think every character has a million and one facets to them, and for me what’s fun about working with text is finding the places where each one of those personalities fit. That’s what I’m interested. Discovering the complexities that make the words on the page human.
5. What’s your go-to, belt-it-out-in-the-shower song?
‘Special’ from Avenue Q cause it’s so ridiculous but hot dam it’s fun.
6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Yikes. I’ve been given A LOT of fantastic advice. So I’m gonna name my top three
> Find your own voice, know what you want to say
> Learn to be ok with waiting
> You can only do what you did (This one is especially helpful for me when dealing with the anxieties that all performers face. Releasing things and moving on is one of the hardest and most important lessons I’ve had to learn)
7. This is a tough industry. What keeps you going?
I don’t really know. Maybe it’s that I don’t give myself the option to stop, it’s not really something I feel like I can give up. It’s tough yeah, but nothing good comes easy.
8. What was your memorable night in the theatre – as an audience member or as a performer?
When I was a wee little one I had the opportunity to audition for Annie but couldn’t go because I was ill. Many months later when I saw the show at Her Maj in Melbourne I was filled with more determination than any 9 year old should have. I vowed that I would never again miss another audition again. I don’t remember the show, but I remember how it made me feel. Determination and clarity spewing out of my pores!
9. Do you have any preperformance rituals?
Depends on the show, but yes I am incredibly ritualistic.
For Carrie it was a lots of breathing, the Drowsy Chaperone was gallons of Pei Pa Kao, Miracle City was all about green extra chewing gum, and Dogfight was eclipse mints, guitar tuning and lots of humming.
10. Why does musical theatre matter?
Because story telling matters. Music matters. Dance matters. A film without any music would be weird, and thats because music evokes something in us that words can’t. Speaking and text is somewhat limited. With the aid of movement and music you are able to conjure up emotions, set the scene and tell a story in a whole new way. It works on a more subconcious level, but is undeniably a very powerful, and in my opinion, under harnessed medium.
Follow the Rob Guest Endowment official Instagram account to see each of the 6 finalists ‘takeover’ for a week leading up to the concert.
For more information, visit robguestendowment.com.au