Storm the Stage - National Grand Final 2010Left - Michelle Berg. Cover - Amberly Cull

Despite the very sombre opening number in the Storm the Stage National final last night, it was a fast paced showcase of the diverse talent among some of Australia’s finest young performers.

Given the fabulous opportunity to work with experts in the field, for their work to be seen and to make good friends with common interests and goals, each of the finalists can be considered winners. However, the young people that took home the cash awards were:

Best Performance Drama - Michelle Berg (WA)
The excerpt from the play To Gillian on her 37th Birthday by Michael Brad was a very touching monologue from a young girl who had lost her mother. Berg, who is already making her mark in the Perth community theatre circuit, gave a sensitive and mature performance. She says: “Growing up with a non-creative logical family has shown me what real love is. They have supported me every step of the way even when they didn’t understand what, where or why I was doing something.”

Best Performance Drama – Runner up - Skyler Ellis (WA)
Ellis performed a demanding monologue from the play Rumours by Neil Simon which was a dramatic, yet farcical piece, during which he used physical comedy to his full advantage. His fluency with the script and expert articulation ensured that we didn’t miss a beat of the engaging story. Currently studying at WAAPA, Ellis says: “I would strongly recommend it to any 16-19 year olds who want to enhance their skills as performers, and who want to be able to network with like-minded teens from all over Australia”.

Best Performance Musical Theatre – Euan Doidge (SA)
Watching Euan Doidge perform Money, Money from Cabaret was nothing short of a sheer delight. He knew how to engage the audience and utilise his props and costume to maximum effect, but it was his extraordinary physicalisation of his character that made this performance stand out. Doidge is clearly a very talented dancer which was evident in his cleverly choreographed routine. Every move was chosen and executed brilliantly. This young man is certainly one to watch in the future.

Best Performance Musical Theatre – Runner up – Petronella van Tienen (TAS)
Singing This place is mine from Phantom by Maury Yeston, van Tienen was absolutely captivating. She says: My goals are to study music theatre at WAAPA, to be on PlaySchool, and to have a professional career in music theatre, perhaps even performing on Broadway!” Given her incredible stage presence, her beautifully expressive eyes and delightful voice, I would say that Petronella van Tienen can look forward to many more successes like this one.

Briggs and Gibbs Award for Special Audience Appeal and Presentation – Amberly Cull (WA)
Although it didn’t show off the best of her lovely voice, Amberly Cull’s choice to perform My Party Dress from Henry and Mudge by Kerrigan & Lowdermilk was a suitable one. Her embodiment of the character and her command of the range in pace, pitch and emotion was what set her apart as a crowd favourite. Although Cull says: “My goal is to be a performer in any capacity, even if it means I live in a closet and play the understudy of the understudy, as long as I am doing what I love”, with her talent and charm, it would be a travesty to confine it to a closet.

While the judges deliberated we were treated to a fun little musical theatre routine from past finalists, Cassandra Kotchie, Phoebe Jackson, Julian Goncalves and Jamie Ward who have all gone on to continue their careers in performance.

Once again, at the end of the show the musical choice to accompany the audio visual presentation to recognise past winners was downbeat, and perhaps more fitting to an “in memoriam” segment one might see at an awards night. I found it incongruent with the joy of life these young people clearly possess and uncharacteristic of their outstanding achievements.

At the conclusion of the presentations and as the audience started to filter out of the Octagon theatre, the finalists began embracing and congratulating each other with big smiles and lively conversation. That excited feeling and that final image is the one that most encapsulates the true spirit of Storm the Stage.

Storm the Stage
National Final

Venue: Octagon Theatre, University of WA, 35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley
Date: Thursday December, 2010
Time: 7.30pm, doors open 6.30pm
Tickets: $35 Full $25 Conc or $80 Family (2+2)
Bookings: BOCS 9484 1133

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