Friday, November 28, 2008

The Void

During any transition stage I believe there to be a void. A surprising thought considering at a 'time of change' one would assume transformations to be taking place left, right and centre.

For me, the transition from high school to university has been a great, big, gaping void- full of dreams, desires but also impatience.

More than anything I want plans(both expected and unexpected) to be set into motion so that I can begin working towards my goals. Instead, time seems to be standing still. I no longer wake up with that little flutter in my stomach that serves as a reminder that I am stepping over another mound or hurdle on my life journey. More acurately it seems I am out in the dessert, parched and hungry to make a difference, but walking towards an oasis that never draws near enough.

To make matters worse, I am left unmotivated to tick off the simple, everyday tasks on my long 'AFTER HSC TO-DO' list- activities I had originally looked forward to, hastily typed down, and envisioned with an excited gleam in my eye.

At the moment life(in the sense of achieving life goals) seems very stagnant. I feel as if I am almost in an existentialist state where the monotony of a day consists of little meaning; (*big breath*) working[as a casual in a shoe shop], coming home, eating, sitting on the net doing anything and everything but beneficial work and, in the blink of an eye, drifting off into a dreamless sleep- only to awake and enjoy the repetition of the same cycle with the common addition of extra spice: the obligation to put up with rude customers whilst struggling to make budgets set without any regard to Australia's present economic climate.

I am not really complaining. I am very thankful for the many successes the year, and school-life in general, has brought.

I suppose, more than anything, my little frustrations mount from the almost let-down of post-HSC life. I had expected the vacation to be a time of utter relief and elation, and instead I feel it is a void. Not an entirely unwelcome void(probably one that I needed), but one that I thought would be filled with...meaning... or perhaps something less vague that I cannot quite put my finger on.

Ask me in a years time and I am sure I could vividly explain to you that 'something', and what I felt 'meaning' was. At the moment, call me stupid, but I would welcome the option to be back at school and learning. Learning more about myself, others, and the enigma that is life. For isn't that our ultimate quest?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Must see movie classic: It's A Wonderful Life

You know how there are just some movies that are a must-see?

It's a Wonderful Life is certainly one of them. It tells a heart-warming tale of a man who reaches breaking point, and in his darkest hour comes to realise his life is full of meaning and happiness. The film will never loose pertinence because it remains a reminder that even when life can seem so bleak and hopeless, we must never give in to that blackness, and rather return to the keystones of our being, our family and friends.

Personally, we ladies can also relate to romantic Mary(played beautifully by Donna Reed) and admire her strength and integrity.

If you haven't seen it, you don't need to bolt to the video store, but I'd recommend you watch it at some stage, particularly during those troubling times in our lives.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Little Women Opening Night: 'Amazing', 'Astonishing', and so much more

Tonight I had the privilege, as the Kookaburra Kids Youth ambassador, to attend the Opening Night of Australia's premiere production of Little Women: The Broadway Musical.

The very first thing I want to say is; what a wonderful way to spend three hours of your life! I would heartily recommend it to anyone, young or old.

Little Women, based on Louisa May Alcott's 19th Century novel, follows the tragedies and triumphs of the four March sisters - feisty Jo(an aspiring author), romantic Meg, pretentious Amy, and kind-hearted Beth - and their beloved Marmee, at their home in Massachusetts while their father is fighting in the Civil War.

I found a quote in the program interesting:

"Louisa May Alcott did for women what Thomas Edison did for the light bulb: gave them a new gleam of importance and respect never before seen in the society of the day."
Emma Caddy; Little Women theatre program.

In a way, Little Women pushed boundaries in it's 1860s Victorian context. Rowdy and tomboyish Jo paid no heed to societal conventions and rather independently sought to forge her own path led by the passion and desire she found within herself. Although the musical is a period piece, its themes of family, friendship and search for love and meaning in life are timeless.

What is most uplifting about the story, however, is Jo's fighting spirit. She has a good heart and gives her all, never giving up on her dreams, even when times get tough. Jo is a fantastic heroine, and her hopefulness and determination can speak to any generation.

When approaching the musical, I was no stranger to Little Women. Of course I had seen the 1994 version with Winona Ryder, and knew the touching story like anyone, however the 2005 original Broadway production staring the phenomenal Sutton Foster is what caught my eye.

Not only is the script witting and charming, but the music soars. I believe it can stand up to the megamusical giants. I wouldn't quite say 'move over Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Les Miserables, here comes Little Women', however there is something about this musical that provides an ultimate enchanting evening. It has a winning combination: a touching story, beautiful music, visually stunning costumes, and an outstanding cast(and direction).

Australia's very own take, via the talents of director Stuart Maunder, was of a very high standard. The set design was intriguing, particularly the use of a two part-revolving stage(in theatre of the round) to change scene location and enhance solo performances. The costuming was simply perfect, full of vibrant colours and intricate detail with fitting shade patterns for each character. Direction was seamless and the choreography(Martin Michel) left me wanting to get up and join in the fun!

More than anything, the key stand-out feature of the production was the perfectly-suited cast. Anyone who criticises Australia for lacking talent needs to see this musical. For Kate Maree Hoolihan(who is a lovely person to chat to), it seemed as though Jo, the 'lead', was made for her. Her acting was phenomenal, and she gives every performance so much energy, you cannot help admiring her. Kate Maree performed Jo with all the gusto and spirit she required, and added a little of her own spicy self into the mix, nicely so.

Jodie Harris who played Beth also has a beautiful voice, quite similar to Megan McGinnis of the original cast (with less vibrato). I could listen to her voice all day, and her performance of 'Some things are meant to be' was touching.

Hayden Tee played a very convincing Fritz. He had an impeccable German accent and baritone voice, I would say the most flawless of the cast.

Other than Kate Maree Hoolihan, the other stand out was Erica Lovell's performance in the role of Amy. This surprised me as Amy is such a dis-likable character, which usually turns me off admiring the actress as much as you would the heroine(as silly as that sounds), however the fact that she was absolutely hilarious is no under-statement. I laughed, and laughed, and laughed as the animated Erica pranced and sulked around the stage. In fact, when my eye was not drawn to a particular spot, I often found myself watching Amy's reactions. Erica Lovell is a polished all-round performer and highly entertaining to watch, and for her musical debut she gave an outstanding performance.

Of the other members of the cast, Trisha Noble was a very good Marmee, Judi Conelli delivers as expected as Aunt March, Octavia Baron Martin is always a pleasure to watch and shines onstage with a natural beauty about her(very fitting for Meg), David Harris as John Brooke is charming, Phillip Hinton plays a earnest Mr Laurence and Stephen Mahy was a lovable Laurie. Each cast member truly did a wonderful job(and I would not say that unless I utterly believed it). They interacted like a real family, creating a very warm and safe atmosphere, just like a family home. This ony draws us, the audience, even further into the beautiful tale.

As someone who loves musicals, and has seen and listened to her fair share of them; the good, the brilliant and the not-so-good, I would categorise this production as brilliant. In the end, I can, in no major or minor way fault it.

I honestly approached tonight excited, but feeling Kate Maree and the cast had big shoes to fill(playing such beloved characters and proceeding theatre legends such as Sutton Foster and Maureen McGovern), however I simply cannot wait to see the show again this Saturday and the following Sunday.

Although I am not naive enough to believe musical theatre is for everyone, if I were asked to recommend a musical, this would certainly be in my top three(following Phantom and Wicked- yes, I'm a sucker for mega-musicals).

More than anything, I urge all of you to spend a little of your time and money to see Little Women while it runs it's limited 5 week season.

I am not only saying that because I believe Kookaburra has, and is, doing wonderful things for Australia as our very first national musical theatre company, and will play an integral role in the future of Australian musical theatre, pathing the way for aspiring performers like myself. It is because I cannot express just how much I believe others will thoroughly enjoy this musical and production, even if musical theatre isn't 'your thing'. I took a friend of mine, who had never been to a live musical in his life, and he loved it and sang it's praises the entire way home.

Also, the beautiful musical direction by the extremely talented Peter Rutherford (Composer of the new Australian musical, the Hatpin, among many other musicals) cannot go unmentioned. Peter is a very insightful young man, and a great asset to the Australian arts.

To conclude, I strongly urge you all to watch Little Women, you will not regret it.

And after you have seen the show, let me know your thoughts and post your own personal review, I'd love to hear them!


Location: Seymour Centre(York Theatre)

Season: Nov 5- Dec 7

For direct tickets, visit:

Or access through Kookaburra's site:

I'm including loads of photos because there are so many beautiful ones I couldn't choose!

Taaha and I at Opening Night:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Farmer Wants a Wife strikes again

Everyone knows I am a reality TV junkie, but one of my favourite shows is Channel Nine's The Farmer Wants a Wife.

The show revolves around the concept that six single country bumpkins are presented with eligible city girls, in the hope that they may find love. As the show progresses, two women are chosen to join the farmer on his ranch for a week, where sparks will either fly or the girls will ship out.

While some farmers are obviously unprepared for female company, preferring to camp out in the shed with their dogs(aka James from Season 2), others hit it off straight away, leaving the 'other' girl to return home after an unsuccessful search and the couple to spend quality time together.

As much as people like to rubbish the show for sticking their nosy cameras into people's relationships, many do enter the show in earnest, and have indeed found love.

In terms of reality tv, a show is credited by not only its entertainment value but its end results, and The Farmer Wants a Wife has success stories to boast.

In the first season, Farmer Chris was smitten with Kim, and the feeling was obviously mutual as they married in June, a year and a day after their first meeting.

Furthermore, what triggered this blog was the news that Rob and Jo from Season 2 are set to soon tie the knot. They announced their engagement earlier this week:,21985,24629352-5012974,00.html. This came as no surprise considering they hit it off on their very first meeting, and were already making wedding and family plans in the season finale!

The Farmer Wants a Wife has managed one wedding ceremony per season, and keep them coming I say!

I look forward to Channel Nine's third season early 2009.
WEBSITE: Farmer Wants A Wife

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Do people think before they call?

Now that I have had copious amounts of time to spend at home, it has been interesting to see the type of calls we receive during the middle of the day.

There is always the typical, "Ah hello, I am from Calcutta, India and I would like to know..." BEEP BEEP

But for two consecutive days a man has called to speak to my father. A "charity call" he says.

I don't know about you, but the majority of people on this entire planet, let alone Australia, GO TO WORK during the day. All you really have to do is think for a few moments to realise it is illogical to ring working families, particularly if you want to speak to the homeowner, in the middle of the day.

I completely understand that the people who call are also 'workers' and hence are employed at normal work hours. But in all honesty, it is a waste of their time and money to call the same people over and over again at the same time after they have been blatantly told, "Sorry, he's not here, he's at WORK."

If charities, who of course have good causes, want to contact the majority of people at home, they need to call after work hours.

However, this is when people firstly want to spend time with their families and not be bothered by phone calls, and secondly, when others would prefer sitting on their couch with a chilled beer watching Deal or No Deal rather than slouching over their office desk with a phone plastered to their ear.

It seems like a catch 22, but if one thing is for sure, neither side is benefiting, and more effective measures need to be put in place to ensure the charity is as productive as it is good-willed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quote of the Day

"The only people you need in your life are the ones that prove they need you in theirs"

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I Dreamed (and am still dreaming) a Dream

Since I'd like to make a daily post, at least to get me started and my thoughts flowing, I have fallen back to letting it be known that I love to sing, and have been classically trained since I was 9. Only a few years ago when I was 13 I happened upon The Phantom of the Opera when my brother and sister-in-law took me to watch it at the movies while we were on holiday. Now, I know for all POTO fans, many do not approve of the film, but for me, it was a significant moment in my life because while I was there, as the chandelier rose and the overture pulsated through the cinema, I can't quite explain it, but I had this overwhelming feeling of belonging. Now I often get that same feeling when I am watching musicals live, or am in one myself.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short, that day I 'fell in love' with musical theatre, and that love remains just as strong, if not stronger.

Since then, I have moved into musical theatre repertoire for my voice and began taking a few acting classes before I was cast as the understudy to play Serena in Fame: The Musical two years later in 2006.

The picture below was taken while I sung one of the feature songs, 'Let's Play a Love Scene'.


That day when my time came to shine, I again felt at home, and I never wanted the show to finish!
It of course did, and later in the year I did a revue called Seasons where I was fortunate enough to play a leading role with numerous solos, duets and ensemble pieces. [I even got to perform 'What is this feeling' from Wicked before it became the next big thing. That was SO much fun!]

I have been banned from doing musicals since, due to the need to concentrate on my last two years of high school. Those two years have only come to an end in the last two weeks, so I'm now free to do another musical.

The only problem is I came down with a harsh case of laryngitis due to overworking my voice for my music performance. A combination of stress, lack of sleep and bad belt technique has meant my voice is still highly fatigued, and I am about to begin therapy in the next two weeks.
God willing, I will be back on the road to my dream in no time.

This was my last performance of a beautiful song written by one of the most talented musical theatre composers, Jason Robert Brown, before my voice gave out at a very inconvenient time. It's called 'I'm Not Afraid' from the musical Songs for a New World.

As you can probably gather from my above mini-life-story, if there would be one dream(career wise), I would love so much to be a professional musical theatre performer. I know the career is far from easy, and those who make it big time are like grains of sand in the ocean. However, now, as I look up to people like Sutton Foster, Idina Menzel, Stephanie J Block and other powerhouses who have been blessed with amazing talent, watching them and many others only fuels my desire to reach for the stars.

If there is the slightest chance that I could make it, I will take it. For the chance that maybe for just one day, I could truly shine.

May the fire for your own dreams always burn brightly.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Viva la Revolution: Happy Guy Fawkes day!

Before I begin, it must be known that I am well aware today is the 7th, not the 5th of November, but the knowledge of a three month worry-free holiday until uni starts has seen all things travel at a slower pace. And woooohoooo for that!

Without further adieu;

“Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.”
Traditional rhyme recited on Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes was a Catholic revolutionary in the early 17th Century who, in his attempts to carry out the Gunpowder plot to blow up Parliament House and rid England of it's anti-Catholic sentiments, became an icon for those fighting against political absolutism and oppression.

In V for Vendetta, where I came to know of Fawkes, he symbolised the fight for freedom and democracy in a dystopian society run by a totalitarian dictatorship. He provides hope to those in the face of oppression that freedom can be achieved, because as V says in the film;
"Beneath this mask there is more than flesh... Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof."
Quote from the film, V for Vendetta
Director James McTiegue sums up the pertinence of the film as a reflection of the current political climate;
"It really showed what can happen when society is ruled by government, rather than the government being run as a voice of the people. I don't think it’s such a big leap to say that things like that can happen when leaders stop listening to the people."

V for Vendetta is a striking film with an important message. As global citizens, we have a responsibility to maintain a questioning awareness of the goings on in our world; our political leaders, social and technological advances, and even moral development.
Without this human right, we could find ourselves in our very own distopian society that George Orwell so vividly depicts in his novel 1984. A situation where humans are effectively brainwashed to believe;

"War is peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength."
George Orwell's 1984.

I believe Guy Fawkes Day should be a time to reminisce "humanity's most precious achievement: freedom" as Mario Vargas Llosa discusses in The Culture of Liberty and remember those in our history who fought for what we often take for granted.

There are many figures like Fawkes who have received great acclaim for paving the path we now travel upon. Guy Fawkes Day is the time to acknowledge his.

Viva la Revolution!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Just a little, but a little too much

Waking up to the wind howling outside your window after five hours of sleep is always a challenge. Firstly because somehow you have been deprived of your full forty winks, and secondly because chances are it is going to be a dull and gloomy day.

The later you have little control over, and at times it unfortunately seems not much could have been done to prevent the former.

In times like these you need to ask yourself why your head feels like a ton of bricks, and why it would have been easier to prevent it.

Before long comes the all too familiar 'well if I hadn't played chess on the computer half a dozen times until I won I would have had an extra half hour,and I suppose reading that piece of fanfiction was not terribly necessary either...' Somehow all the little things pile up to make something quite big, and as always, we don't figure these things out until it is too late.

That is exactly how I feel about my failures during the HSC.

I approached the HSC(the final exams in high school for those unfamiliar with the jargon) with reasonably high hopes of giving everything I had to prove what I was made of. Being the dux of year 11 with a conditional $20,000 scholarship in my back pocket put me in good steed as well.

After tireless hours pounding away at the keyboard and raking my brain for the best way to achieve full marks for assessments, I usually succeeded, and consequently came first in five of my eight subjects. A school record.

Sounds good so far, however somewhere above lay one of my major problems.

Eight subjects. I did 14, and later 13 units, when I only needed 10. I spread myself far too thin with my idealistic view of being able to nail everything I set about achieving. To only compound this, I spent many a nights procrastinating doing any substantial work in favour of taking the easy way out to play silly computer games or surf the web.

At times when my brain was 'hurting' due to being what I thought was over-worked, I allowed myself to take a little break. These little breaks swiftly transformed into whole hours feeding my petty wants. 'Just one more video', 'just one more game', 'just ten more minutes, then I'll go to bed'.

I whittle it down to poor self-discipline; when I had no schedules to meet, my last-minute innovative self full of good ideas was lost and nowhere to be found.

In effect, I expect my end result of sitting in the exam room making stupid little decisions to compound into a loss of whole bands and benchmarks I myself hoped to set and reach.

If I was to do my HSC again, I would indeed have made different decisions which would have benefited me in the long run.

As always, hindsight is a marvelous thing. Even so, just as those bludgers who say they will pick up their effort in year 12 don't, it would take a large effort to say no to the little inconsequential things and make the best decisions when at the time I had no idea what they were.

In a similar way to the multiplier concept in economics, what may seem little in the short term will accumulate in the long term into something far greater and more harmful.

I kept on giving and giving; spending my time on this extra curricular activity here, that extra shift at work there and those countless hours dedicated to subjects which ultimately will not even count. All until the loss of precious time came back to bite me where I was simply left with the words of my mother echoing in my mind; "you will never get this time back".

Now, as my final score is out of my hands, all I can do is hope that the number which will be forever burned upon my brain is an accurate indicator of my effort.

At the completion of this journey of my life, there are many lessons which have been learnt, and hopefully if nothing else, I will learn from my failures and turn them into successes further down the line.

'All the wasted time' was simply a case of just a little, but a little too much.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Forsyth's take on Phantom, a distasteful beginning

Being a Phantom of the Opera fanatic(I will not go into the extent to which I tag myself this, for it can be assured an epic essay will be the only result), I thought I would use my free time wisely and read what Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has chosen to base the sequel of his musical on; Frederick Forsyth's The Phantom of Manhattan.

The preface was good and it was clear Forsyth had done his research however bias he appeared in delivering it. In other words, Leroux was practically crucified and Lloyd Webber idolised, which was by no means surprising considering Webber had given Forsyth his blessing on the eve of the novel's creation.

From here things went downhill awfully quickly- and believe me when I say I did have high hopes and wanted more than anything to like this book as it potentially could make my life just that little bit more complete. Fate nor favour was clearly not on my side. A mere ten pages into the novel, and I could not bring myself to continue reading.

'Comtesse Christine de Changey', 'Comtesse Christine de Changey', 'Comtesse Christine de Changey'. Every time I read that vile phrase my blood boiled.
If you know your Phantom, then you would know there is a distinct difference between EC and RC shippers. EC being a pairing between Erik(aka the Phantom) and Christine, and RC a Raoul(the fop) and Christine relationship.

To understand me and my strong feelings, you must know that I would rather cut off my left leg than become an RC shipper.

It was bad enough that the original musical ends with Christine running off with Raoul. The thought of actually seeing her married to him is completely unacceptable and ironically more unrealistic in my eyes.

As extreme as this may sound, if the Lloyd Webber musical does not end with an EC pairing in which Raoul and Christine annul their union, or worse than this, if the recycled plot line of the ego(Christine) and it's struggles against the id and the superego, with the superego winning is repeated, I will refuse to watch the musical.

Tragedy is obviously not 'my thing' and I am all too quick to sympathise with the underprivileged and downtrodden. To see the disadvantaged given a chance and then have fate smack him or her back in the face to only emotionally damage them even further is just damn infuriating!

Wuthering Heights was enough for me, give me Beauty and the Beast any day.

Roll your eyes, but I would rather live in my fantasy land where all is as it should be than watch such blasphemy.

Lloyd Webber, be warned. RC, and this phan will have no more of your dalliances with my beloved Erik. I will have absolutely none of it. My ties and alliance shall be cut and buried deeper than the Paris Opera House dare reach.

May beloved fanfiction sooth the woes of EC shippers around the world until that day comes when EC shall rise from the ashes and rule the world.

Until then,

Your faithful servant,
OG ... I mean Maryann