Falling From Grace

The winter production for 2017 presented by Ballarat National Theatre (BNT) are presenting Falling From Grace. It will be performed at the Courthouse Theatre from 8 to 15 July, 2017.

Written by one of Australia’s most prolific writers Hannie Rayson, Falling From Grace is a story of friendship between three women.

Falling From Grace

Having been colleagues and friends for years Suzannah, Maggie and Janet they have always helped each other through a life crises from husbands, lovers, children and work.

Their magazine is planning on printing an article about the high-profile female researcher Miriam Roth who’s conducting a trial of a drug for PMS.

Falling From Grace deals with what is moral or ethical and how people deal with difficult situations. It may not be as clear cut as it seems when various facts are revealed.

Directed by BNT long-time member Peter Nethercote and will star Jane Gaylor, Janette Baxter, James McLaren, Mary-Rose McLaren, Madeline Holland, Trevor Day and Miranda Donald.

A Q&A will take place with playwright Hannie Rayson after the matinee performance on 9 July.

Ballarat National Theatre have been entertaining the people of Ballarat and district since 1938. If you haven’t attended a performance, it might be time to support this local Ballarat theatre company.


Vanessa Menjivar

Entertainer Vanessa Menjivar joined me for a Coffee Break to chat about her current show The Songs of Alan Menkin presented by Flourish Productions.

You’ll be performing in “The Songs of Alan Menken” at Southbank Theatre in Melbourne on 24 June.  How did you become involved in the show? 
I auditioned for Flourish my first year out of BAPA (Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts) back in 2015. I was buzzing with so much energy and so excited to finally work with people outside of university and we’ve been done this show a few times since.

Who else will be performing in The Songs of Alan Menken?
Emily Paddon-Brown, Zuleika Khan, Jeff van de Zandt, Seth Drury, Liam J O’Byrne, Josh Ellwood and myself.


What songs will be performed in The Songs of Alan Menken?
We perform songs written by Alan Menken from classics like Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, Hercules and The Little Mermaid to musicals including Little Shop of Horrors and Sister Act.

Do you have a favourite song which you like to perform from the show?
Zero to Hero is probably my favourite just because it is so much fun and the choreography is so damm sassy.

Are you a fan of Alan Menken?
YES! I grew up listening to so many of his songs in all my favourite Disney movies they were all such cult classics.

This show is produced by Flourish Productions.  Are you able to tell me a bit more about this company?
Flourish was created by Catherine Langley back in 2015 to help support and develop a lot of the new artists in Melbourne from Musical Theatre grads to up and coming musicians. It’s been a great way to create contacts and network and gain some exposure by performing in the shows. The Songs of Alan Menken was the second show by Flourish – in total Flourish has now created 5 unique shows and performed 8 seasons of those shows in the past 2 years at venues including the Hayes Theatre, Chapel off Chapel and now at the Melbourne Theatre Company.


Who were your musical influences growing up?
Aretha Franklin was my biggest musical influence, I was not just mesmerised by her voice and the way she communicated her lyrics.

Do you have any hobbies?
Love to bake and play some competitive badminton.

What is your favourite food?
Can never go past a good sushi.

Do you have a favourite movie?
Just going to shamelessly plug Menken and say ALADDIN.

What is your idea of a good holiday?
Somewhere with lots of sun.

What is the last album you listened to? Vanessa01
Frank Ocean.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what items would you take with you?
My dogs.

Is there anything which you don’t you leave home without?
My beats go with me everywhere. Always listening to music when I have the chance to.

What’s next for Vanessa Menjivar?
I get to tour around New Zealand soon playing Mayor Goodway in Paw Patrols Race to the Rescue Concert.

Vanessa Menjivar will be performing in The Songs of Alan Menkin at the Southbank Theatre on 24 June. For further information about Flourish Productions, visit the website here.

Images supplied. Photos by James Terry.

Next Fall

The critically acclaimed Next Fall will premiere in Melbourne at Chapel off Chapel from 12 to 30 July, 2017.

Next Fall is about the five-year relationship of Luke and Adam. After an accident occurs, it changes everything, beliefs of family and friends are put to the test. Adam is forced to turn the Luke’s family and friends for support.

Next FallIt focuses on family and what rights does a long-time de facto have in a crisis if absent family members have a different view.

This Tony Award nominated play was written by Geoffrey Nauffts.  Elton John and his partner David Furnish produced Next Fall on Broadway.

Presented by Boyslikeme, Next Fall will be directed by Peter Blackburn. The cast of six includes Kaarin Fairfax, Mark Davis, Darrin Redgate, Paul Robertson, Sharon Davis and James Biasetto.

If you would like to attend a heart felt play, make sure you attend a performance of Next Fall.

Click here if you would like to read my Coffee Break With Belinda interview with one of the performers Kaarin Fairfax.


Heart Is A Wasteland

Having admired the work of Aaron Pedersen on television and film, I was pleased to see that he would be appearing in Heart Is A Wasteland.  It’s going to be staged at the Malthouse Theatre from 29 June to 16 July, 2017.

Ursula Yovitch.Aaron Pedersen - Photo credit Deryk McAlpin copy-1Set against the back drop of the central Australian landscape, Rye is a country music star in the making. Playing pubs along vast desert highways, selling CDs for $10. She meets Dan, another wanderer and a love affair blooms during a four-day drive north of Roxby, South Australia to Alice Springs. It’s a journey into how we hurt and how we heal.

Presented by Brown Cab Productions who’ve combined their of love theatre, film and live music into this play. Written by John Harvey and directed by Margaret Harvey. Starring alongside Aaron are Ursula Yovich and Anna Liebzeit.

If you would like to see an Australian story; attend a performance of Heart Is A Wasteland.

Image supplied. Photo by Deryk McAlpin.





The Adventures of Peter Pan & Tinkerbell

As a child, I remember going to pantomimes presented by a local theatre group so I was rather excited when Bonnie Lythgoe Productions will be presenting The Adventures of Peter Pan & Tinkerbell. After Brisbane and Sydney seasons, it will be staged at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne from 21 to 30 July, 2017.

Well-known entertainer Todd McKenney will be starring as Captain Hook. Tim Maddern, Jaime Hadwen, Katrina Retallick, Robyn Loau and the role of Smee will be shared between Mark Jones and Kev Orkian.

Peter Pan

The Adventures of Peter Pan & Tinkerbell will feature glittering sets, spectacular effects, enchanting costumes and featuring fantastic song and dance numbers.

It will be sure to have lots of comedy and audience participation for the whole family from ages 3 to 103.

For further information on The Adventures of Peter Pan & Tinkerbell; click here.

Image supplied.  Photo by Robert Catto.

Disney On Ice Presents Frozen

Feld Entertainment celebrates 30 years since they first toured Australia with an ice show. The 2017 show is Disney on Ice presents Frozen. It will be staged at Hisense Arena in Melbourne from 5 to 9 July, 2017.  Extra shows added on 22 and 23 July due to audience demand.

It’s quite fitting that this year’s show is Frozen as we are currently experiencing the winter season in Australia.

Disney on Ice FrozenHosted by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Disney on Ice presents Frozen transforms audiences to Arendelle where you revisited the story. At the 2014 Academy Awards, Frozen became the first film by Walt Disney Animated Studio to win Best Animated Feature and it also won Best Original Song for Let It Go.

Disney on Ice presents Frozen, audiences will experience world class ice skating and special effects while being enchanted with the characters of Anna, Elsa, the lovable snowman Olaf as well as new ones including Grand Pabbie, the Trolls and the Marshmallow.

Television personality, Shelley Craft, is the 2017 National ambassador for Disney on Ice who’s a mother of two daughters.

For further information on Disney on Ice presents Frozen, click here.

Brent Trotter

Entertainer Brett Trotter joined me for a Coffee Break to chat about his current role in Stage Art’s production of Spring Awakening, growing up in Ballarat and his career to date.

You’re currently performing in Spring Awakening which is being at Chapel off Chapel until  10 June. Are you able to tell me more about the show?
Spring Awakening is a musical that is based on a play by Franz Wedekind that was originally banned when first shown in the 19th century it’s a show that mainly focuses on the consequences of sexual repression which can be confronting at times but there is also a lot of beauty in the piece.

What role do you play and can tell me a bit about your character?
I play Moritz Steifel, Moritz is a teen who is struggling to deal with the effects that puberty is having on his body and his mind, this in turn with the pressures put on him by his father send him in a downward spiral.

Has the show bought you any challenges as an actor?
The show brings a lot of challenges for an actor, the character is somewhat on the spectrum so I must portray that with care and the same time he is consumed by sadness, having to put myself through that mindset every performance is utterly exhausting but it is one of the most rewarding roles I have ever played.

Brent02Who else is in the cast of Spring Awakening?
There is a cast of about 17 in Spring Awakening, with people ranging from all ages from as young as 17 to near 60, the whole cast is an amazing bunch and probably one of the most cohesive and caring casts I’ve ever worked with.

Brent, you have links to Ballarat, are you able to tell me more about this?
I guess you could call them links haha actually I was born and grew up in Ballarat, where I grew my passion for the theatre, my first show being the 2001 BLOC production of Oliver! Ever since that production I’ve never looked back. Ballarat has always a massive encouragement for young people in theatre, in fact many of Ballarat Theatre’s alumni are currently working all throughout the entertainment field from stage all the way to the big screen.

You worked on a Disney Cruise Line in the USA. Can you share some of your experiences?
Disney Cruise Line was my first ever professional gig. At the ripe age of 19 I was flown to Canada to rehearse for a month and then spent 10 months sailing the Carribbean I was a MainStage performer and played roles such as Peter Pan, Aladdin and even as a giant puppet of Slinky Dog in Toy Story the musical. Working for a company as massive as Disney was a tremendous experience being such a young age and I hold the memories of that contract with great fondness.

Brent01Are you able to tell me about your involvement with Alexander Productions?
When I was about 16, I was offered a scholarship and flew to Sydney to do a Junior opera workshop which was run by Alexander Productions, the workshop was amazing, getting to work with Musical Directors of the Australian Opera and many famous singers, the week culminated with a performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

What was it like travelling to China with the Melbourne Piano Trio?
In 2014, I was lucky enough to be asked to travel China on a singing tour with three other singers. China was never on my “to travel” list so I was rather surprised how much I enjoyed my time there, we saw some amazing things and performed at some stunning theatres, we even appeared on a televised concert in front of a crowd of about 15000 people it was quite surreal.

What was like to work on Ned: A New Australian Musical?
Ned was a wonderful experience, one of my biggest dreams was to originate a role in a musical and that dream came true, and to top it off in an Australian musical. In Ned I played Steve Hart who was Dan (brother of Ned) Kelly’s best friend and also a noted member of the Kelly Gang, we were even lucky enough to wear armour designed by some Ned Kelly experts but it was only about a third of the weight luckily.

While undertaking my research I discovered you’ve got some circus skills. What are these skills? 
Someone is saying I have circus skills?! Ah wait I did learn to stilt walk while I was working at Sovereign Hill, it was for a School Holdiay Program based around Magic, a terrifying experience to say the least.

Do you have any hobbies?
Hobbies, this is a weird question for me because my hobby is actually my job, Acting/singing are my hobbies I’m just lucky enough to get paid to do them on occasion.

Brent04What is your favourite food?
I love all food, really I do. but you can’t go past a good pizza.

Do you have a favourite movie?
Favourite movie is a tough one, I have a lot of films that I love and more and more are added to that list all the time, but i can tell you that if I’m feeling a bit ill, I’ll probably chuck on Back to the Future to get me through it.

What is your idea of a good holiday?
A good holiday to me is somewhere I can relax, that could be a beach, a nice hotel or even having a cold beer at a bar in a new city a holiday is pointless if you take all your stress with you to another place.

What is the last album you listened to?
Last album I listened to was John Mayer’s latest but I don’t remember being blown away.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what items would you take with you?
A whole heap of food and water haha.


Is there anything which you don’t you leave home without?
My keys because if I lock myself out it’ll cost a fortune to get back in, believe me.

What’s next for Brent Trotter?
I am doing a one night only concert performance of Ned: A New Australian Musical reprising my role of Steve Hart but apart from that, I don’t really know but that’s the beauty of it all, if I knew then it wouldn’t be fun finding out.

Brent Trotter is currently performing in Stage Art’s production of Spring Awakening which is being staged at Chapel off Chapel until 10 June. For further information about StageArt Australia, visit the website here.

Images supplied. Photos by Belinda Strodder.