Home Grown is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting, developing, and promoting Australian musical theatre. They have recently teamed up with Songs for a Future Oz in a recent livestream concert, featuring twenty songs penned by Australian writers including Tim Minchin, Kate Miller-Heidke, Bryant & Frank, Matthew Lee Robinson, and so much more! Selected from over fifty-five submissions, singers included graduating musical theatre students from some of Australia’s leading performing arts schools, including the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, the Victorian College of the Arts, the Queensland Conservatorium, Federation University Arts Academy, and the Patrick School of the Arts.
Hosted by Liam Wigney, from WAAPA, keeps the concert light-hearted and fun, being well spoken and enjoyable to watch. The concert has been edited together strongly, with a prompt start time, great quality visuals, and some songs feeling particularly relevant to the current global climate.
Each performance is strong, emotive and passionate — with each song matching the performer perfectly, with great control and expression. At times stylistic choices came across somewhat distracting; such as Grace Phillips “talk singing” in Playing Nancy from Groundhog Day. Complete – sung by Hannah Swindon, Caitlin Rooke, and Kelsey Halge – features great harmonisation. Lower notes are super rich, creamy, and feel like warm honey, which differs from the others who have strong music theatre voices. This was a standout performance, which was highly enjoyable.
Amidst the classical, and traditional musical theatre numbers, there is great scope for fun and upbeat contemporary works by comparison. FaceTime (music, lyrics and performance by Connor Morel) is an enjoyable song, with the camera intercutting with the instruments. With cute lyrics, and Connor conducting his own backup vocals, has the piece feel like a throwback to old-school YouTube. It’s very palatable and deserves a spot on the radio.
David Duketis and Liam Wigney come in strong with The One Who’s Name is On My Heart from Mary Bryant. The two WAAPA boys have great chemistry, and stage presence. It was great to see an introduction to the song, and their reasoning for choosing it, which is somewhat lacking throughout the concert – it was a great offering, which made it standout from the others. This one is with an acoustic guitar and had me researching the original production afterwards!
The concert is wrapped up nicely by Wigney, who ends on a Covid-note that is relatable and optimistic. He encourages the audience to find out more about the songs – with music cards available on both organisation’s social media accounts. It was a great way to engage with audiences who might otherwise not be able to make live productions. Besides some changes to audio quality, the concert feature pre-recordings which allowed for a smooth-running livestream. It was great to see the level of passion and effect employed by this great range of future artists, allowing for hope to states still dealing with major restrictions.
by AIMÉE DOYLE