Nearly 15 years ago a fresh, young WAAPA graduate burst onto the Australian musical theatre scene as Roxie Hart in the new production of Chicago. It was her second ever professional audition and she was hailed as “the next big thing”.
Audiences loved her, the media loved her, and for the next 3 years, Roxie became Chelsea Gibb’s life. The American producers showed a confidence in this young, leggy redhead that, as the season progressed, she struggled to emulate. A connection to the country upbringing and strong family values of her childhood became increasingly tenuous and immersing herself in a role, on and off the stage, a false salvation. And then Chelsea fell in love. Many years, many roles, an incredibly happy marriage and two beautiful children later, Chelsea is no longer the tomboy from Ballarat nor does she feel like the fish out of water she once did. Instead, this elegant woman in the prime of her personal and professional life, radiates inner calm and a philosophical contentment, happily declaring herself to simply be in a wonderful place in life.
The idea for In These Shoes was born in the mind of Chelsea’s WAAPA mentor, Denis Follington with whom she has remained in contact since her student days. Late last year, he presented her with a collection of songs that he felt reflected her life and journey thus far. Sourced from jazz, swing, comedy and music theatre, this somewhat eclectic selection is not necessarily what one would expect a “leading lady” to sing. Some are well-known tunes, others definitely not. Each song could comfortably stand alone, but when interwoven with the collaboratively written dialogue, lead us through Chelsea’s journey to the present. Under the direction of one-time flat-mate and fellow WAAPA student, Scott J Hendry, In These Shoes is a philosophical look at past and present, with a glancing eye looking excitedly towards the future, but happy to let it simply unfold.
Although autobiographical, this show is anything but self-indulgent. It is a celebration. Chelsea firmly believes herself to be the sum of her past, with all that that entails. Like most performers, she has had times of great elation and dark times too. In These Shoes candidly speaks about all of it, with an honesty as confronting as it is calming. It is a heartfelt look at a performer’s life, sense of self, and the journey to discovering that life is what you live and performing, what you passionately love to do.
Chelsea Gibb – In These Shoes
Sunday November 27th, 2011 only
4pm & 7pm
Chapel Off Chapel
Tickets: $45 ($39 concession)
Bookings: chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000