Walk into the Arts Centre Melbourne and you’re likely to come across a huge poster advertising The Production Company’s final show for the year: Brigadoon. The poster features leading man Rohan Browne, already well known to TPC audiences, with a new and unknown leading lady with long, flowing red hair.
A theatre patron recently looked at this larger-than-life poster and commented to one of the Arts Centre employees that she was considering purchasing tickets to Brigadoon.
The Arts Centre employee enthusiastically replied, “Oh, you should. I hear it’s going to be amazing!”
What this patron didn’t realise was that the Arts Centre employee she was speaking with was the leading lady in the promotional posters: Genevieve Kingsford.
“No one recognises me – with my short brown hair, and I wear glasses most of the time,” laughed Kingsford, who wears contact lens for rehearsals and performances.
Genevieve Kingsford is enjoying the relative anonymity that comes with being an emerging artist. Despite a leading role in The Light in the Piazza (also at the Arts Centre Melbourne) and being the runner up in the prestigious Rob Guest Endowment Award last year, Kingsford is virtually an “unknown”. In fact, in the lead up to Saturday’s opening night of Brigadoon, this interview with Theatre People was her very first media commitment for the show.
“I’m very much a newcomer to the media,” said Kingsford, with a smile. “The anonymity is great!”
It does allow Kingsford to focus her attention on the hectic rehearsal schedule. Before our interview, I had the opportunity to have a sneak peak at the rehearsal of ‘It’s Almost Like Being In Love” and it sounded amazing.
“It’s a beautiful song and we’re doing it a little bit differently. Traditionally it’s been so romantic when it’s sung together, but, in the context of the story, it’s the first time the two characters have a moment to themselves, where they’re not together and they get to register what their feelings actually are: this is still a first date, so I’m not saying I am in love, but it feels like I might be heading that way already,” explained Kingsford.
Genevieve Kingsford first started singing lessons with her twin sister, Grace (an accomplished musical theatre performer amongst the Melbourne community theatre scene). Genevieve is not sure why her Mum enrolled them both into singing lessons, but she feels it was to develop confidence in the twins.
“I think Mum noticed how excited we got when we did our grade six musical!” added Kingsford,
“We started off doing it as a fun thing for half an hour a week. Then I got the bug and I just wanted to do more and more!”
After four years of lessons together, Genevieve Kingsford decided to take her singing seriously and commenced solo lessons. Her twin sister is Genevieve’s biggest fan, but also her “honest voice” for Genevieve to seek feedback and advice. She said the twins live vicariously through each other’s lives.
“I wanted to do the singing exams and keep pushing myself. It wasn’t just for fun now.”
With each exam, Genevieve Kingsford was encouraged to go down a classical path, but due to her love of musicals, she decided to study both classical and contemporary styles.
“Over time, and I think it’s from the music I listened to, this huge sound started coming out. It’s not quite the floating coloratura soprano, it’s very much ‘fill a room’,” Kingsford laughed.
Genevieve Kingsford studied in the UK and heard all about Brigadoon, “the Scottish musical”, from the Scots she lived and studied with. However, it’s only now, in the preparation for her leading role, that she has really become familiar with the storyline and discovered the musical has a much broader appeal that she first imagined; particularly with the new vision by Director Jason Langley.
“We had this discussion about are we satisfying the expectation of what the show will be, but at the same time bringing it to the present – making it modern? And I think we’ve got that balance right,” said Kingsford.
Kingsford revealed some modern day twists have been added to this production, making Brigadoon relevant today. She hopes it will prompt a younger audience to consider why they might go back to a time when community and faith were more important than they are in 2017, and reflect on their own lives and what they value.
While Genevieve Kingsford is currently taking a break from her usual work at the Arts Centre, she can’t wait to get back.
“I’m so looking forward to getting back to my ushering family! I’ve got this whole family behind me from the front of house. It’s great! … They are incredibly supportive,” said Kingsford.
Kingsford describes her “ushering family” as being a very diverse group of theatrical people who share a passion for the theatre and arts, whether it be set design, painting, straight acting or musical theatre. Kingsford is living what many only dream of doing one day.
“I don’t think they’ve quite put it together that I have this big voice and I do all of these big shows, ’cause day to day it’s so low key.”
On Saturday, Genevieve Kingsford will take to the stage in her first show for The Production Company – and in the largest theatre at the Arts Centre, Melbourne.
“I can’t believe the State Theatre, oh my gosh! It’s so big! It’s amazing!”she exclaimed.
Thankfully, she has a voice big enough to fill it.
Genevieve Kingsford should enjoy the anonymity while it lasts. No doubt it won’t be long before she’s snapped up for a role in a major touring production and adoring fans – and the media – will be clamouring for her attention. First, it’s Brigadoon.
Brigadoon opens at the Arts Centre, Melbourne on Saturday 28th October.
For tickets and more information: www.theproductioncompany.com.au