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: Hilary Cole! She made a splash on the Sydney indie theatre scene playing the title role in Squabbalogic’s Carrie, and has featured in Dogfight and The Drowsy Chaperone. You might have seen her in Miracle City or heard her on the cast recording, or playing the lead in return seasons of Heathers in Sydney and Melbourne. Or maybe you’ve booked your tickets to see Kinky Boots? Hilary is part of the cast!
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a big dork that sings 80-100% of the time.
You were a finalist last year! What prompted you to get into the gruelling RGE audition mix again?
Many reasons!! Too many for this article (call me and I’ll prattle on for hours). Mainly though it’s because the Rob Guest Endowment is a competition that I believe in fiercely. The fact that we have a competition set up in Australia that focuses on self betterment and progression PURELY in the field of Musical Theatre is amazing. I enjoy working hard and am very hungry for self development, so having another go this year was a no brainer. It’s a part of becoming the best performer I can be.
Plus it’s also wicked fun.
What does Rob Guest’s legacy mean to you?
I was never lucky enough to meet Rob, but I have seen what he has inspired in other people and it’s remarkable. He cared so much about those around him and loved his work fiercely. Bringing everyone together to celebrate emerging talent and philanthropy, that’s a mighty legacy to leave, and one that shows no signs of diminishing.
Who is your hero?
Jessie Mueller is a big hero of mine at the moment because she’s a shit-hot talented lady who doesn’t conform to a stereotypical Broadway leading lady mould. She churned out amazing, consistent work for years and gave people no other choice but to embrace her. She’s so talented that I’m convinced she’s an alien.
What is your all-time favourite memory of being onstage?
My favourite memory (today at least) is the first time we ever did Carrie in Sydney. It was such a leap of faith. So many things could have gone wrong, the audience response, the magic, and all those many many litres of blood. We had no idea what we were in for. It was totally freeing, and ultimately supremely rewarding.
Also ALL of Heathers. Playing Veronica Sawyer was all the levels of good.
Which piece of advice has stuck with you over the course of becoming a performer – and who gave you the advice?
Work hard and find your own voice. This is advice that has been echoed to me by many,many people and something I think about on a daily basis.
We asked you this last year, but I bet the answer is different 12 months on: what are you currently singing in the shower?
Lather, rinse, sing the score of Waitress, repeat.
You can appear onstage with anyone in the country: who would you choose?
Caroline O’Connor x 1000. That woman is astonishing.
You’re about to open Kinky Boots. What’s the best thing about being in that show?
It’s gonna sound naff, but the best thing about doing the show is the message. Spending two hours everyday reminding people about the power of acceptance, it’s a real treat. Also the Angels… oh and getting to watch Toby [Francis] and Callum [Francis]… and the whole company… Look, It’s just really great.
What do you love about musical theatre?
Musical theatre has the power to make your bones rattle. It’s a truly heightened and affecting experience. Between the music, the movement and the text it bends you to feel certain things without being conscious of them, and that can lead you to feel empathy or understanding towards people you would never normally encounter in real life.
Plus for a big dork that sings 80-100% of the time, singing my feelings is my natural state.