Announcing the 2014 Rob Guest Endowment Semi-Finalists!

After seeing over 200 applicants at the first round auditions in Melbourne and Sydney, our judges have selected the 30 semi-finalists for the 2014 Rob Guest Endowment Award!

The semi-final auditions will be held in August, during which the judges will have the difficult task of choosing just 6 finalists. These 6 finalists will go on to perform at the Gala Concert on 13th October to find out who will win the Rob Guest Endowment Award for 2014 and take home the $20,000 prize!

  • 915 Assetta, Daniel HSDaniel Assetta
  • 925 Bennett, Ben HSBen Bennett
  • 1045 Cole, Hilary HSHilary Cole
  • 1805 Cook, Andy HSAndy Cook
  • 1040 Davis, Thomas HSThomas Davis
  • 1045 Downing, Daniel HSDaniel Downing
  • 1100 Emsworth, Vivien HSVivien Emsworth
  • 1135 Freeland, Anna HSAnna Freeland
  • 1125 Gardner, Nelson HSNelson Gardner
  • Hedger,-Nick-HSNick Hedger
  • 1215 Holly, Matt HSMatt Holly
  • 1230 Hopson, Georgina HSGeorgina Hopson
  • 1255 Hunter, Loren HSLoren Hunter
  • 905 Isaako, Graeme HSGraeme Isaako
  • Kirby Lunn HSKirby Lunn
  • 1405 McKee, Katie HSKatie McKee
  • 1000 McKenna, Lauren HSLauren McKenna
  • Emily-Mercurio-HeadshotEmily Mercurio
  • 1400 Matthew Moore, Seann CVSeann Matthew Moore
  • 1515 Parnis, Joel HSJoel Parnis
  • 1600 Raso, Daniel HSDaniel Raso
  • 1550 Robson, Joshua HSJoshua Robson
  • 1815-Scundi,-Angela-HS-1Angela Scundi
  • 1220 Selley, Rebecca HSRebecca Selley
  • 1655 Smith, Zach HSZach Smith
  • 1640 Swayne, Monica HSMonica Swayne
  • 1645 Sweeney, Connor HSConnor Sweeney
  • Karla Tonkich HSKarla Tonkich
  • 1735 Vushe, Tarisai HSTarisai Vushe
  • 1805 Wright, Sophie HSSophie Wright

2014 Entries open

Organisers from The ANZ Trustees Foundation: Rob Guest Endowment have today announced two new awards for 2014 bringing the total prize package to over $45,000 and called for competition entries.

The Rob Guest Endowment Award, now in its 6th year, is awarded annually to an emerging musical theatre performer selected by a panel of industry experts. It seeks out Australia’s brightest and most talented young rising stars by putting them through a gruelling audition process. Six finalists showcase their talents at the Rob Guest Endowment Gala concert, and this year the 2014 winner will take home $20,000, an $8,000 increase on the 2013 prize package. Runners up will each take home $1,500. The prize is intended to help a current artist in the musical theatre genre gain the performance experience, media training, guidance and a public image to help them become a leading artist in the Australian musical theatre industry.

This year also sees the introduction of two exciting new categories opened to competitors recognising further excellence in the field of musical theatre. The Rob Guest Endowment Technical Award in honour of Sue Nattrass is a $10,000 cash prize intended to help a current member in a technical department of musical theatre fund the tuition and experience needed to help them become a leader in their field. Applicants could be from departments including, but not limited to, stage management, mechanists, sound, lighting, wigs and wardrobe. The Rob Guest Endowment Musician Award, also a $10,000 cash prize, is intended to help a current musician in the musical theatre genre fund the tuition and experience needed to help them become a leader in their field.

The Rob Guest Endowment (RGE) executive committee, James Thane, Bernadette Hayes and Kellie Dickerson are thrilled that the 2014 prize pool has reached over $45,000, and RGE Patron, John Frost, says that this growth in prizes helps demonstrate how the cause is continuing to give back to the industry as it grows. “This is a unique set of awards honouring a great man of the theatre, who was an inspiration to all he worked with and a teacher and mentor to all,” said John Frost. “We are thrilled this year to be able to expand the awards to encompass not only performers, but to theatre technicians and musicians as well.”

It was also announced that, through the support of Destination NSW, the 2014 Rob Guest Endowment Gala Concert will be held on Monday 13 October, 2014 at Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Like past concerts, this night promises to be a highlight on the musical theatre calendar, showcasing the 2014 finalists alongside some of Australia’s finest professional musical theatre performers. More information on guest artists and tickets will be provided in August.

2013 Winner

The 2013 Winner is Samantha Leigh Dodemaide!

On Monday 25th October 2013 the winner of the annual Rob Guest Endowment was announced at the Gala Concert hosted by Bert Newtown at the Sydney Lyric.

SAMANTHA LEIGH DODEMAIDE knew she wanted to perform from a very young age, and when it was time to make her dreams a reality, she spent 4 years studying at Patrick Studios Australia, singing show tunes, speaking Shakespeare and tapping toes. Since then Sam has appeared in Anything Goes, The Producers, and A Chorus Line in which she understudied and performed the role of Cassie, as well as understudying the roles of Shelia, Diana, Maggie and Judy, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and currently KING KONG.

Congratulations Samantha!

2013 Tickets now on sale

TICKETS ON SALE NOW! Don’t miss out!

Now in its fifth year, with the support of Destination NSW, this special night comes to Sydney for the first time!

Hosted by Bert Newton and featuring a star studded line up including international star Adam Garcia, the night will see some of Australia’s finest musical theatre performers on stage alongside the six finalists vying to be the recipient of the Rob Guest Endowment Award and take home the $12,000 cash prize.

It promises to be an exhilarating and uplifting night that no musical theatre fan should miss!

Huge News – We’re coming to Sydney

The Rob Guest Endowment Concert after having played in Melbourne for the past four years at the Historic Her Majesty’s Theatre is with the support of Destination NSW going to play in Sydney for the next three years. This year is the fifth anniversary concert and it will be held at the Sydney Lyric on November 25.

The RGE would like to extend our gratitude to the good people at Destination NSW under the leadership of Sandra Chipchase – for their commitment to and support of the ideals and objectives of the Endowment, in particular for regards to the need for further developing the Endowment as a national endeavour to develop and nurture the next generation of music theatre performers. Their support will enable the Endowment to build an infrastructure in Sydney for the concert and for the concert to  become a fixture in the artistic calendar of Sydney for the next three years and hopefully beyond.

The support of DNSW also will extend the reach of the Endowment to regional centres around Australia, something the Endowment has been working towards since its inception.

2013 Applications now open

The 2013 Rob Guest Endowment Competition is now open!

UPDATE – The launch will now take place at 10:30am, not 11am as earlier stated.

We are busy preparing for our fifth competition taking place in November this year. Please visit our ‘Apply’ page for more information on how to submit your application. We have some big changes this year so please stay tuned for more information.

The Endowment will also be holding a media launch on 17th June at 10:30am, at the Heritage Room, Capitol Theatre Sydney. You are all invited to attend and see what we have in store for 2013!

Glenn Hill wins the 2012 Rob Guest Endowment Competition!

Congratulations to Glenn Hill, who was selected as this year’s winner of the Rob Guest Endowment.

After a spectacular concert held at Her Majesty’s Theatre with a star filled cast and an exceptionally talented group of finalists, Glenn was thrilled to be announced as the winner.

Well done Glenn!

The 2010 Winner – Francine Cain

The wonderful Francine Cain was the winner of the second Annual Rob Guest Endowment Award.

Francine performed brilliantly on the night and has gone on to land a lead roll in the new smash hit musical ‘Rock of Ages’.

All at the Endowment are very proud of Francine and wish her every success for the coming year.

Finalists announced for the 2010 Rob Guest Endowment

The six finalists have been announced for the 2010 Rob Guest Endowment.

The six finalists selected are Sarah Bakker, Simon Brook McLachlan, Francine Cain, Nathan Derrick, Bree Langridge, and Drew Weston.

They were selected from submissions across Australia and represent some of the most promising emerging musical theatre talents.

2009 Winner Danielle Mathews New York trip report

Itʼs difficult to know just where to begin. When people ask me ʻwas it wonderful?ʼ, I just smile and say ʻyes, it really wasʼ. But how to convey that kind of wonderful? Itʼs something that you can only feel when youʼve experienced it. Iʼm going to attempt to share the experience with the justice it deserves.

On the 1st of April I walked out of the NY singers forum feeling like I had been given a gift. I was empowered by the knowledge that I understood my voice again and I was in full control of it and not the other way round. Problems and insecurities I had felt just one hour earlier had vanished and been replaced with a feeling of relief and pure joy. I was a new singer; a new person even. That was my first class in NY with Tom Burke ( Master Teacher- Estill Voice training system.)

The next stop was True Voice on 32nd St to meet New Yorkʼs premier rock coach Sheri Saunders. She was everything I hoped for and more. Huge personality – chewing loudly on gum saying ʻthatʼs totally awesomeʼ and belting out segments of rock tunes that I simply had to put in my repertoire. She taught me something revolutionary. How to act a rock/pop song. What a concept! I mean, did you ever really think that Eye of the Tiger could be performed as a dramatic acting piece that contains strong historical references giving it great depth? Neither did I, but how wrong I was. This was a style of training that I have never come across in Australia despite the fact itʼs so relevant to us here as the amount of “jukebox musicals” that require us to perform rock/pop songs are forever growing in popularity. Itʼs a skill I will really treasure. In the style of the entire experience, that wasnʼt nearly enough! Sheri also gave me an entire new repertoire of rocking tunes from the 60ʼs to now, picked specifically for me. For a singer thatʼs like all Christmases and birthdays come at once!

Now you know you should be feeling nervous when youʼre working with a man that arranged and played the on the original cast recordings of 90 percent of the music in your repertoire. One word of advice: Donʼt say “oh, that songʼs depressing” because he may just say “oh, I arranged that song and played it” and then youʼll feel rather embarrassed (not my finest moment). This man is of course the amazing Stephen Oremus (original MD of Wicked and probably everything else for that matter), who despite his terrifyingly intimidating status and huge success is absolutely delightful and was kind enough to spend an afternoon with me coaching me on anything and everything I wanted to work on.

What a thrill. Being taught by him was like looking through a musical magnifying glass. All the detail and the subtle connections between lyric and melody that to the average eye get overlooked begin to leap out of the page. It really hit home to me how much closer you can get to the heart of a song when you look that little bit closer and work that little but harder to find it.

Iʼm going to back track for a moment to 2009 when I was lucky enough to meet the wonderful Michael Lavine (sheet music/vocal coach) who was over from NYC to take some coaching sessions with Australian performers. I had just had some exciting news. I was to go to Sydney for the final auditions of the Rob Guest Endowment. I took the pieces I wanted to perform to Michael and we workshopped them. At the end of the session I jokingly said “if I win Iʼll see you in NY”. Five months later Iʼm in his studio surrounded by floor to ceiling shelves filled with every score from every musical ever written, and iʼm sitting by the piano thinking: ʻoh my god, Iʼm actually hereʼ. Aside from giving me more new ideas and music than I even know what to do with, Michael Lavine gave me the ultimate NY music theatre experience!

Michael took me to meet and work with Craig Carnelia (Tony award nominee, writer of “Is there life after high school” and top NY acting coach). What a great honor to work with him and even more surprisingly to be praised by him! This is a man whoʼs temper is as famous in NY as his talent. I thought he was wonderful! I sat in on Craigʼs master-class and watched other young performers being guided and workshopped. I learnt so much just by watching him work. The subtle process of finding and developing character were so magnified in his class. Just watching him drawing out the truth from the actor was truly a sight to behold.

Michael then took me to ASCAP (THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS), where over two nights I was able to see selections from brand new music theatre works being presented to a panel lead by Stephen Schwartz. It was so exciting to be witnessing new works in development still finding their feet. These are works, which may one day become smash hits on Broadway!

Michael also gave me the opportunity to meet and talk with Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin), Lynn Ahrens (Seussical the Musical) and many other amazing industry figures.

Whilst all this was happening I was continuing my training with Tom Burke, and by my final class he had me singing opera whilst simultaneously belting high Cʼs. Now thatʼs what I call learning to sing! What can I say: the man is a genius and I got the opportunity to share in that! I was also continuing my work with Sheri, including lectures on the “History of Rock for Music Theatre Performers”. I even took part in a rock master-class filmed for the Oprah Network. One release form later and hello American national television! Oh and of course how could I forget about Broadway! Avenue Q, Mary Poppins, Chicago, Rock of Ages just to name a few! All I can say is wow. More shows on Broadway at one time than in the entire history of Australian music theatre! What an amazing place!

Reading over this I feel like I have said so much and yet so little! Even my verbose over reiterated retellings of the trip donʼt quite get the heart of it. So now Iʼm asking myself ʻwhat is the heart of it?ʼ and I guess the answer would have to be ʻmeʼ, and how I stepped off the plane a different person to the one that stepped on. Before this trip I, Danielle Matthews was a performer that thought I was pretty good but never quite good enough. Now I know Iʼm good enough. If thatʼs not the best thing that an experience of a lifetime can do for you I donʼt know what is!

I would like to thank ANZ, The Rob Guest Endowment, Kellie Dickerson,Laura Manning, Wicked Australia and everyone involved for this life changing opportunity, and please, if you are a young performer reading this thinking you might give it a shot: all I have to say to you is JUST DO IT!