When Life Like Company’s production of The Light in the Piazza opens on Friday it will herald the Australian professional debut of Genevieve Kingsford. It’s something her family and friends have been looking forward to for years.
“I studied overseas and I haven’t really done any professional theatre over here. Everything I did overseas no one could get to see. So they’ve all been waiting for it,” Kingsford explained.
Kingsford returned to Australia in September 2015 after studying at the London School of Musical Theatre. She’s already gained a steady fan base after her captivating performance in Flourish Productions presentation of Sing On Through Tomorrow: The Songs of Matthew Lee Robinson.
“The second I got back I was … er … maybe a little too proactive!” laughed Kingsford.
“I was calling lots of agents then emailing them the next day. I was trying to get myself in and I was having coffees with anyone who knew anyone in the industry. I was trying to network and find out how I fit in the industry – which I am so unfamiliar with because I didn’t do any professional performing before I left to study overseas.”
It would seem Genevieve Kingsford has now found her place in the industry. She is about to portray the delightful character of Clara in The Light in the Piazza. She is also preparing for her performances as one of the six finalists in this year’s highly coveted Rob Guest Endowment Award. She admits she was “stoked” just to be a semi-finalist.
“It’s so much more than I expected coming back! I figured I’d have to chip my way at it, because I came back knocking on the outside of the industry saying, ‘Let me in!’ But the way it’s going is just overwhelming. It’s so phenomenal!”
The Light in the Piazza has always been a special show for Genevieve Kingsford and it seems very fitting that her big break in the industry should be in a role she truly loves.
“I’ve had an obsession with the recording. I found it about five or six years ago and just fell in love with it,” said Kingsford.
Kingsford was in the audience of Life Like Company’s production of City of Angels last year when she turned over the programme to discover the company were presenting the first, fully staged, Australasian, professional production of The Light in the Piazza.
“I turned over the programme and, my gosh, I almost threw up because it’s my favourite show!” she exclaimed.
Kingsford had auditioned for an amateur production of The Light in the Piazza several years ago, but was told she was too young for the role. It’s all worked out for the best for Genevieve Kingsford who now takes on this dream role. She describes Clara as being incredibly pure and innocent.
“She doesn’t have the comprehension to feel the weight of the world. It’s much more simple than that for her. The world is black and white. It’s everything in the moment and she doesn’t consider lots of things at once. She is what you see,” explained Kingsford.
With rehearsals well underway for the opening night of The Light in the Piazza, Kingsford has had to put any preparations for the Rob Guest Endowment Concert on hold, in order to give Clara her full focus.
“I’ve been looking forward to doing this for months and months and months and it means everything to me!” exclaimed Kingsford, although she admits the Rob Guest Endowment Concert will still be in the back of her mind.
“I just want to put all of myself into The Light in the Piazza and just completely let go and be completely immersed in it.”
The Light in the Piazza is a rarely performed piece of theatre and for audiences not familiar with it, Kingsford says, “It’s for lovers of musical theatre, but I think it’s a nice change from what you normally see in musical theatre. Anyone who thinks that musical theatre is not a mature art form or thinks it might be a bit frivolous or a bit fabulous, this is kind of an antidote to it.”
As Kingsford explains, one of the highlights of The Light in the Piazza is the score by Adam Guettel.
“The way Adam Guettel has written it adds so much to it. It wouldn’t be the piece it is without the music. It’s the most beautiful, lush piece. I just love everything about it and I’ve had this obsession with it for years. This one is different. It’s one of a kind and so special.”
The Light in the Piazza opens on Friday 28th October at the Playhouse at the Art’s Centre, Melbourne for a strictly limited season.