Bridging the gap between studio and professional musical theatre industry, the new Young Industry Project, devised by Alice Batt and Daniel Cosgrove, offers students a first hand insight into the pace and level that the professional industry works at. Performers will workshop, rehearse and present a full scale musical in two weeks through an intensive full time industry training experience, while working with some of Australia’s finest musical theatre professionals.

I spoke to Batt about putting the project together, working with the VCA, what young performers will gain from the project, and found out what some of the industry mentors had to say about this opportunity.

“This project is designed to mentor, grow and develop students wanting to pursue a career in the Musical Theatre industry. Cast members will learn how to rehearse and stage a show in an extremely fast paced rehearsal environment in a cast of like-minded, driven young performers. In doing so they will be mentored in skills such as working under pressure, rehearsal room process and etiquette, physical and vocal health, well being and show readiness,” Batt said about the project.

“Our mentors are some of today’s most exciting industry professionals and performers ready to immerse our cast with their wisdom and experience, both in singing, acting & dance technique, and personal growth and well-being in the industry”.

The 2019 mentors include Zoy Frangos, Annie Aitken, Rob Mills, Elisa Colla and Nadia Komazec, with Batt directing, Tyrone Anthony as Choreographer and Kala Gare as musical director. This year’s show will be a full production of Legally Blonde Jr The Musical.

 “Dan and I both teach, and have been fortunate to work with some incredibly dedicated young performers. We noticed a gap where some of the most talented and committed young performers were lacking in CV credits and full scale musical experiences as there were no opportunities available to them within their schedules. Often these students, who are training for 15-25 hours a week on top of their schooling, are unable to be involved in local community productions as they are in the studio training when rehearsals are running”, Batt said.

The project is designed for young performers aged 11 – 17 years old.

“We wanted to create an experience that would challenge these performers like never before. To nurture their talent and to foster in them the life skills, process skills and professional skills to last beyond the triple turns and the backflips of discipline training. This is where the idea of a two week intensive rehearsal period was born – to make it available to those incredible young dancers, singers and actors who are busy training to the highest level during term time. We also love that this intensive rehearsal period is reflective of the way professional rehearsals run”, she said.

In speaking to Elise Colla, one of the industry mentors, she highlighted the benefits the young performers and the mentors will gain from participating.

“This is such a fantastic opportunity for young people in musical theatre and I’m really excited to be involved. I know both the performers and us mentors will learn so much from this project. I’m excited to watch these young performers grow in their skills and confidence and to see the joy they’ll get from being able to create and express themselves in a positive, safe and nurturing environment”, said Colla.

Batt and Cosgrove aim for this project to be a step towards teaching performers the expectations and pace of working in full scale professional shows so that this is a given by the time they are belting and flipping into their first day in the Bachelor courses.

“We were so thrilled that the VCA agreed to work with us. It is such a hub of talent, creativity, and energy. We want that for our cast; to be inspired by the previous generations that have walked the halls and by the current students rehearsing next door. We love that it is a neutral ground, and that dancers and singers from studios all around the country can come together to create their own piece of magic in the arts hub of Melbourne”, Batt said.

Kala Gare, Musical Director for the project said this is a wonderful opportunity to be able to impart the knowledge that they, as working artists, have accumulated and are continuing to learn.

“Being able to teach the respect, honesty and compassion that is required in this tough industry is a gift – aside from all the technicality of the notes on the page. I believe we have the responsibility to continue to nurture these young emerging artists in the way that we have been; helping them to realize their own power, and teach them how to use their talent, hone their craft and be valuable members of our artistic community”, Gare said.

“I feel blessed to be involved with this project. To inspire the next generation of artists coming through to dream as big as they can and to give them an opportunity to perform in this setting is just incredible”, said the project’s choreographer, Tyrone Anthony.

They hope this is just the start of the project, and a new way of providing industry access and nurturing young performers, with a phenomenal response so far from the community.

The 2019 Young Industry Project will run from 1st July to 14th July, with Project Orientation on 9th June.

Auditions are open for performers aged 11 to 17 years old – for more details and to register, head to https://www.performingartistscompany.com/audition-now

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