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Ara alumni rocking The Court Theatre stage

Jamming, acting, singing and rocking The Court Theatre stage together – that’s in the job description for recent Bachelor of Music Arts graduates Emily Farrell and Tyler Robbins.

They are part of a group of four Ara alumni who were selected to play rock band members in the upcoming musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The musical premieres in Christchurch on 11 May.

“It’s the first big role after Music Arts at Ara, the first proper job! I wake up every day and think it doesn’t really feel like work, it’s so much fun,” says Farrell.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a four-time Tony Award winner and was called “the best rock musical ever” by the Rolling Stone magazine. It’s a darkly humorous tale about sacrifice, gender identity and love in all its forms.

Cameron Burnett, who is another band member in the production, graduated from Music Arts in 2014 and he is hooked on the story line.

“It’s hilarious, it’s very witty and what I am most excited about is that every night will be different. Adam Rennie (who plays Hedwig) and Phoebe Hurst (in the role of Yitzhak) are fabulous actors and the music is just fantastic!”

Tim Heeringa, who is the fourth band member and Ara alumni, has previously worked with Burnett. According to all four, Music Arts is a giant network so it is not surprising that the band members loosely knew of each other before hitting The Court Theatre stage together.

“Our music director needed musicians who are also able to perform. You can’t just pick a musician and tell them they are in the limelight if they would rather be in the background, no matter how good they are with their instruments.

“While we were discussing finding the right team members, Tyler and Emily’s names popped up because they stepped up to the expectation. Plus Tyler came with a recommendation from the tutors at Music Arts for this audition,” says Heeringa.

Reminiscing about Music Arts at Ara, the four agree that they wished they had put more time into personal practice, taking opportunities to jam with others and broaden their skill sets by learning another instrument or how to sing.

“What I like about Ara Music Arts is that this place focuses on the technical side but also blends it with the business, the networking and the personal side as well. You walk in as a talented musician and you leave as a pretty well rounded artist, ready for the industry,” says Burnett.

“I miss being at Ara. I miss catching up with everyone and continuing to learn new things every day –mind you that seems to continue even outside of Ara,” says Robbins.

While it wasn’t difficult to learn their one most prominent line in the musical (“Yes Miss Hedwig!”) one thing everyone in the group struggled with was to learn the right pronunciation of their characters names.

“My character’s name is Skszp. It’s quite difficult to say since there are no vowels in the name. He is the musical director in the play and plays keys and lead guitar,” says Robbins.

Burnett’s role is Schlatko who is a shy yet slightly arrogant drummer in the band and Heeringa is Krzyzhtoff, a heavy metal rocker form Berlin.

“The simplest way to describe my role is to say I play the guitar, act and pretend to have the biggest ego in the room. I’m doing little solos and singing. One cool thing about being band members is that we all get to act with Hedwig,” says Heeringa.

Farrell, whose character Jacek was originally male but was changed for The Court Theatre production, agrees even though her interactions with Hedwig are often a tease.

“Hedwig has me on about being the only girl in the band a lot throughout the show.”

Hedwig and the Angry Inch will run at The Court Theatre for three weeks starting on 11 May. Tickets and more information can be found on The Court Theatre website.

Ara’s Bachelor of Music Arts alumni Farrell, Robbins, Heeringa and Burnett talk more about Hedwig and the Angry Inch in this video.

Watch this video to hear the four reminisce about their time at Ara Institute of Canterbury.

© Scoop Media

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