Kat of the Musicals

The Rob Guest Endowment Concert is one of my all-time favourite events on the Australian Arts calendar. It brings with it a lively room of musical theatre lovers and the atmosphere is simply spectacular. To me it is also such an integral part of supporting our young up and coming musical stars in reaching their full potential. The talent that you see on stage during the concert is so utterly inspiring! And I always leave with a least one new musical theatre piece to be obsessed with ❤

Originally posted on The AU Review

The 2014 recipient of the Rob Guest Endowment Award was announced tonight at the annual concert event, with young musical theatre performer Joshua Robson taking home the honor.

The Endowment Awards are in their sixth year and aim to recognize and support a new generation of theatre professionals in recognition of one of Australia’s finest musical theatre performers, the lateRob Guest.

The concert evening is more than an Awards night though; it is a chance for some of Australia’s youngest and brightest Musical Theatre talent to show the world what they’ve got. This year’s six finalists really did just that, with host Bert Newtown repeating several times the high caliber that the crowd was witnessing on the stage of Sydney’s Capitol Theatre.

Each finalist is able to select two songs that they feel best reflect their style and talents-

Monica Swayne showed off her soaring vocals in “Falling in Love with Love” and her amusing character acting in “Wherever He Ain’t”.

Ben Bennett captured the crowd’s imagination with two choices picked right out of his dream roles- “Corner of the Sky” and “Someone Else’s Skin”.

This year’s well-deserving recipient of the new award for ‘Melbourne’s East End Theatre District Artist Development Award’ was Andrew Cook. His deep and dark rendition of “Lonely Room” was sharply contrasted with a hilariously sexy “Here For You” that had the crowd in hysterics and thunderous applause.

Karla Tonkich definitely showed off her charismatic charms in “Show Off”, which were supported by her equally stunning vocals in “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”.

Angela Scundi sung out an emotive “Goodbye Until Tomorrow”, and then brought out the chair and corsets for a titillating performance of “Mein Herr”.

This year’s recipient Joshua Robson proved his talents long before the announcement, capturing the audience’s heart in the powerful lyrics of “Soliloquy” and the depth of his character in “Let Me Drown”. Both were performed with a command of not only vocals and facial and body expression, but also of stagecraft, demonstrating a strong affinity for bringing out the best performance for the audience.

Throughout the evening the man of the stage himself, Mr Bert Newtown, kept the audience thoroughly entertained with his fast and witty humour. His delightful co-host Glinda Goodwitch, MissLucy Durack, helped to keep him on track and read the finer print of the cue cards.

The end of Act One closed with the most beautiful rearranged rendition of “Defying Gravity” from the Durack’s own co-cast of Wicked, including current Elphaba herself Jemma Rix (without the green!). Equally captivating was the final closing performance of the beautiful “Seasons of Love” by the cast ofStrictly Ballroom The Musical.

The night also featured numerous guest performers, including 2013 Recipient Samantha Dodemaidewho has recently returned from training in New York. Her performance of “Meadow Lark” demonstrated the results of her training and the opportunities this award has been able to open for her.

As the awards were finally announced, including The Playbill Future Prospect Award and this year’s two other new awards The Technical Award in Honour of Sue Nattrass and The Musician Award, you found yourself feeling that all finalists and recipients are equally deserving. It is so clearly evident just how much passion, dedication and training that each of the finalists has put into their art, and the level of talent shown on stage is just breathtaking. As judge Todd McKenney said (on behalf of his two other judges Nancye Hayes and Guy Simpson)- “each and every one of you flew in your performances tonight, and you should be so proud”.

In his acceptance speech, Joshua Robson also emphasized the level of talent in his fellow performers, explaining how the Rob Guest Endowment Award does such a great job in exposing this talent. He concluded his “in the moment” speech with a heartfelt thank-you to all the friends, family and teachers that had helped and supported him in developing his craft, “I’m just so happy, thank-you to everyone who made this happen”.

The concert evening is really a special night in Australian musical theatre. Not only doesn’t it recognize and help support up and coming talent in our industry, but it is also a gathering of all those who show their sincere support for the industry. All around you can feel the energy and happiness of musical theatre enthusiasts, and this is heard clearly throughout the theatre with the loud cheering and support for all the finalists and performers.

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