Mackay – March 2, 2012

It’s always very exciting for John and I to be invited to a place we have never been before. Not so much for the chance to view the local scenery, but to be able to meet the people that make up the personality of the area.It is also interesting for us to visit different schools and see what fresh ideas we can pass on to other schools around the country.

While we are jazz specialists, we have both had extensive experience in other areas of the music industry – pop, rock, musicals, cabaret. And just as well as we found ourselves, for the 2nd day in a row, at a school that was working on their musical!

St Patrick’s College in Mackay are in the final stages of rehearsal for their adaptation of Cats. I was very excited as I (secretly) adore this show. It is a very challenging show for young performers. The score changes keys and time signatures regularly – often in the same song. The ranges stretch the most experienced of singers, and don’t get me started on the harmonies – ALW, we need to talk about the illogical alto parts!

The students at St Pat’s have been learning their parts diligently, and building the stamina required to sing and dance at the same time. I met with the very talented singers who had been assigned featured roles. and their biggest obstacle was developing their cat’s personality – and therefore, voice. There is a fine line between singing too “pretty” and sounding like….well, sounding like a cat being strangled in a dark alley. For many it was quite a challenge to overcome, but they all did amazingly well when the cast came together in the afternoon and performed all of Act 1 for me. What a treat!

Meanwhile, John was putting the St Pat’s band through their paces, then headed off to nearby Mercy College to work with the younger musicians there.

It was a fun and challenging day for all. A big thank you to Bianca Johnston from St Pat’s and Judith Hodge from Mercy for making it possible.

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