Review by Taylor Kendal
It is no secret that the last few years have been particularly difficult for the entertainment industry all over the world. The Global pandemic saw the shut down of live performance as we knew it, and for a period of time, we weren’t sure if we were ever going to come back from it. Those working in the industry were hit hard, but what of the collective of performers that might not immediately come to mind? The up-and-coming performers of tomorrow, who during the pandemic continued to work on their craft, eagerly awaiting the day that they could once again perform in front of an audience.
Well, with the invitation to return to Morning Melodies at Art Centre Melbourne, that day had finally arrived. With a performance crafted and curated for the Morning Melodies audience over two years ago, these young stars were ready to take to the stage, and they certainly did not disappoint. Once again created and presented by VCA head of Musical Theatre, Tyran Parke, directed by Jayde Kirchert and accompanied by musical director Lyndall Dawson, this one-hour spectacular was the perfect chance to highlight what is undoubtedly the future of Australian performance.
Located in Melbourne, the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), a section of the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Fine Arts is celebrating a milestone this year; their 50th Anniversary. Since 1972, they have been teaching and guiding the next generation of artists, particularly in the world of musical theatre, many of whom are currently starring in many of the biggest shows in Melbourne and across Australia today.
This year’s showcase brings together an array of incredible solo numbers, stunning duets and group numbers, performed by 27 of the finest up-and-coming talents of second and third year students who have worked tirelessly on their craft during such an unprecedented and uncertain time, and frankly need to be applauded for their strength and dedication alone in what was surely not an easy task.
With such a wide variety of songs to choose from, this performance focused on the stylings of more classic shows, classics like Anything Goes, The King and I, Carousel and West Side Story, just to name a few. Each number showcases an immaculate level of talent, focus and sheer passion for performing. It was clear from the opening number, a wonderful part acapella rendition of the Gershwin’s Fascinating Rhythm, that these kids were ready to be back on the stage in front of a captive audience. And they certainly did not disappoint.
Though each number was spectacular, I have to admit that come the finale, there were chills. A stunning rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel that truly encompassed the last few years of struggle during the pandemic, but as well as the overall essence of musical theatre, in my opinion. The harmonies and the passion for the song were truly remarkable.
What could have simply been a run of the mill performance, ended up being a chance taken for the students to showcase everything they have worked so tirelessly on; their skills not only in singing and dance, but the flair and talent for characterisation; becoming one with the song and bringing it to life with such effortless ease. The range of vocal ability, ethereal harmonies, interwoven with incredible seamless moves and stage presence with such depth in capturing the essence of these classic numbers was present from start to finish. And as a devout member of the musical theatre industry, I can safely assure that the future of our beloved industry is in safe hands.
Cast: Cameron Bajraktarevic-Hayward, Georgia Barron, Edward Burgess, Elizabeth Chan, Yashith Fernando, James Frampton, Ashley Garner, Justin Gray, Lauren Gunson, Will Jones, Abu Kebe, Jordan Koulos, Grace Laing, Chloe Makiol, Julia Miletta, Kristie Nguy, Cassie Ogle, Rebecca Ordíz, Joey Phyland, Kristen Robertson, Joshua Spencer-Pepper, Chloe Stojanovic, Marlene Thomson, Angelo Vasilakakos, Luke Ward, Tymyka Wines, Elliot Wood