Following last year’s success of her Musical Theatre Intensive Weekly Masterclasses, Queenie van de Zandt is not only bringing the series back to Melbourne, but has also expanded the program to include Sydney as well. The Musical Theatre Intensive Weekly Masterclasses consists of weekly classes on a range of musical theatre related topics, taught by incredibly talented and experienced people from within the theatre industry. Click here to see the list of tutors.
Van de Zandt offers a stream for adult professionals already within the industry, a stream for pre-professional teenagers aged 14-17 and a youth stream for children aged 8-13. Applicants must audition for one of just ten places available in each course.
“I’m looking for talented people who haven’t quite reached where they wanted to in their careers,” explained Queenie van de Zandt.
Within the professional stream, van de Zandt said there has been a range of interesting people including a high profile jazz singer who wanted to move into music theatre, wonderful writers and strong dancers who wanted to work on their acting skills.
“It was a really, really interesting mix of people and some really high profile people. We had a Helpmann Award winning music theatre performer in our group. It was really interesting in terms of the different people and skills that they brought,” said van de Zandt.
Van de Zandt has been teaching various workshops and classes for years, but there is one student that she is always ready to talk about: Helpmann Award winner Amy Lehpamer, who is currently playing Principal Rosalie Mullins in School of Rock.
“I taught Amy for a number of years privately, back in the mid 2000s, when she was still at uni studying, and I thought she was so talented when I was teaching her back then! And just to see her development since then – she’s way more famous than I am now! She does so many lead roles and I am still so thrilled that I got to be a part of that,” shared van de Zandt.
“I tell everyone I can that I taught Amy Lehpamer because I’m just so proud of her and I’m just a tiny part of her journey. She’s such a tenacious, incredibly talented person and I’m just so proud of who she has become – this incredible music theatre performer!”
Van de Zandt shared other stories of successful outcomes for the participants of her classes, including a performer who was a great dancer but who could never get through the vocal call for a musical.
“She was such a hard worker, but she was picking songs that were really not right for her. Singing was not her strong point, but she had a lovely voice. She auditioned a week after the course had finished and was cast in a show! She was so thrilled. She really saw, so clearly, the connection between what she had learnt and how it had helped, and when she told me, I can still remember, I burst into tears!” van de Zandt exclaimed.
What makes Queenie van de Zandt’s Masterclasses unique is that the classes are designed with the course participants in mind.
“The wonderful thing about only having ten students in each course is I tailor the course and tutors for those ten people, depending on what they need. We also keep it a little bit loose, depending on what auditions may come up,” explained van de Zandt.
When Billy Elliot auditions were announced van de Zandt spent three weeks of the children’s classes focussed solely on Billy Elliot, even bringing in a dialect coach to help the children with the required accent.
“So we actually respond to what is happening in the market place at the time.”
Tutors come from all areas of the industry: actors, musical directors, choreographers, marketing, publicists, managers, casting agents, theatre makers and writers.
“Because I do think that part of what makes you a great performer is to be all-rounded. And certainly in this country you can’t think of yourself as a just performer, there’s not enough work.”
Queenie van de Zandt’s mission is not only create great performers, but to create people who are proactive in their career.
The ultimate reward for van de Zandt is watching a former student take to the stage in a professional debut or a debut leading role.
“It’s a different feeling from when you have success yourself. It’s so exciting to see. And I’m really aware that I’m only a small part of – I really think people will get there with or without me – but I’m thrilled to be part of their journey.”
It’s evident Queenie van de Zandt is passionate about teaching. She loves assisting her students to identify what it is that has perhaps caused them to get “stuck” in their career.
“Someone I think is really talented, but for whatever reason hasn’t been able to get into a show or hasn’t got a lead role. And then to see them crack through that, oh God, it’s so exciting! It means so much. It’s really, really thrilling.”
Van de Zandt explained that at the professional level it’s often not a massive change required – it might be a massive shift but not a massive thing.
“The people that come in are already really talented. It usually is fine tuning the things that they already do really well and finding the stuff to go beyond that; pointing them in a different direction. Usually it’s a small thing, but also a massive shift.”
For the pre-professional classes, van de Zandt helps to guide her students with where they might want to go after school, helping them to identify what sort of course or training they might want to consider. She said great dancers tend to go into courses that are very top-heavy in dance, but explains if you’re already very good at dance, why not look for a course that will further develop skills in acting and singing? Van de Zandt helps students to identify who they are and what the gaps are that may need to be filled.
The youth course attracts children talented children – regardless of whether or not they have already commenced any training.
“The focus is absolutely on having fun and the learning is through having fun,” explained van de Zandt.
The weekly classes avoid children being over-scheduled, which can restrict creativity. The classes help children identify their focus and give them some top level training in that area, as well as unlearning some bad habits they may have begun to develop.
“I love teaching. I am a much better person when I’m teaching. When I’m teaching I’m actually the best person I am. I am the most generous, the most caring, the most inspiring, the most positive – it absolutely makes me be the best I can be and then in turn it inspires me to be that person,” declared Queenie van de Zandt enthusiastically.
Auditions are now open for Queenie van de Zandt’s Musical Theatre Intensive Masterclasses in Melbourne and Sydney – but be quick, auditions close on Monday.
For more details go to: amta.net.au