Anthony Callea in harmony for Ultimate School Musical: Fame
by David Knox
TV.com Staff Writer 04/19/10
He may have ARIA Awards and platinum record sales but the former Australian Idol finds himself a singing teacher all over again, for a good cause.
When he was asked to be the vocal coach for Ultimate School Musical: Fame, Anthony Callea had to dig deep to recall his days as a singing teacher.
The former Australian Idol star was about to face the students of Essendon-Keilor College in Melbourne, to prepare them for a stage production of the musical Fame.
"When I was 18, 19 or 20, I was teaching a bit of singing, but I'm 27 now and I haven't done it for quite a while," he admits.
"So getting back to basics I had to think, 'How do I do this now?' Because when you do something for so long you just do it, you don't really think about it.
So it's like 'OK, I need to explain breathing. I need to explain how to open your mouth.' I actually have to think about it. How do I do this? How do I express to these kids how it's meant to be done and at the same time teach them a show?
"But we didn't have time to sit there and go 'technically this is how you have to sing'.
We didn't have the luxury of time to teach them from scratch and put on a show."
In the FOX8 reality series he is joined by Eddie Perfect as director, Kelly Aykers as choreographer and Ruby Rose as host. The four give the students a crash course in the performing arts, leading up to a public performance of the musical at the prestigious Regent Theatre in Melbourne.
Callea admits it was such a frenetic gig there were times he was pulling his hair out.
"I had many students cry on me! I had one running out of the room! I think I had one that air kicked me!" he recalls.
"So it was a bit emotional at times for the kids. It is something that you have to be quite sensitive about, because the sound that they are producing is actually coming out of them. You have to be quite sensitive about it because they are kids at the end of the day, and you don't want to hurt their feelings."
Almost without exception the students had never set foot on a stage before, so to tackle the singing, dancing and acting of Fame in a short time-frame proved tricky to students and teachers alike.
"It was hard on these kids and it is a big ask," says Callea. "But you know what, we found some great gems and there were quite a few kids that actually surprised us and stood out. We walked away from it going 'I'm so glad we've got that guy, and we're glad we got this girl because they're going to make our job a lot easier.'
"The thing about this whole show really is about giving these kids some sort of experience that they would never have come across in their school life. It's about encouraging these kids and giving them an opportunity."
Ultimate School Musical: Fame airs 7:30pm Tuesdays on FOX8.