Q&A/The Festival Sessions/Fringe World Festival/Music

Shirtless in the 70s

16 January 2018

Alida Chaney is the director of Songwriter, a musical by Trevor Gibson that is based on his book, Shirtless on the Green Lino, which tells the story of his life as a songwriter in 1970’s Perth and London.

Ahead of the Songwriter’s Fringe World season, Alida talked to Seesaw about her own life as a performing artist, and what to expect from Songwriter.

Alida Chaney

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Alida Chaney: I have always known from the first time that I stepped onto the stage at the tender age of five that this was where I belonged. I performed in my first paid job at the age of 11.

S: Tell us about your training.
AC: I trained primarily as a dancer. The singing and acting came later when I went to the Arts Educational School in London. Also at several youth theatres in London. I have attended many courses for enhancing my performance including a musical directing course given by the late John Milson.

S: And your artistic practice?
AC: I teach musical theatre and still perform as much as possible. I have directed and produced shows for the past three years for Fringe.

S: Career highlight so far?
AC: In 2017 I got the chance to play Martha in the classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a play I much admire as the playwright Edward Albee is amazing. The play, which is in three acts, is very taxing and it really tested my mettle as an actor. My directing debut was directing the musical Blood Brothers. This so far has still been my directorial highlight.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
AC: Watching a show come together… seeing the actors/performers grow into their characters. It’s akin to watching your child take its first steps… magic.

S: What has been your funniest career moment so far?
Alida: Playing Miss Hannigan in Annie at The Regal Theatre in Perth… such a fun role.

S: Tell us about Songwriter!
AC: Songwriter is a brand new musical written by local Perth artist/musician Trevor Gibson. The show has some beautifully crafted songs performed by an amazingly talented cast of eight, which includes both Trevor’s and my daughters.

Trevor’s daughter Chelsea, who trained at WAAPA, is already very well known in Australia, having recently sung on ‘The Voice’ and backed Boy George at his recent concert here in Perth. She also regularly performs at The Ellington Jazz Club and in the IGA Carols by Candlelight in the Supreme Court Gardens.

My daughter, Amy, is the choreographer and has trained in musical theatre and dance, obtaining her Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts. She also plays the part of Jess, Scott’s girlfriend. The part of Scott is played by a relative newcomer to the Perth theatre scene, Emerson Brophy. An amazingly talented performer and musician, he was nominated for his role in The Wedding Singer this year. I predict a big future for him.

The songs are performed with very close four and five part harmonies from a small but highly talented ‘Greek Chorus’. It looks and sounds amazing.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
AC: The slide, as it reflects life so well, the highs and the lows…

‘Songwriter’ plays King’s Lair – Basement at His Majesty’s, 30 January – 3 February.


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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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