Sunday, April 25, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Callea In harmony

Anthony Callea in harmony for Ultimate School Musical: Fame

by David Knox 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.

School for stars
April 20, 2010

If anyone knows about rejection it’s Anthony Callea.

He lost Australian Idol to Casey Donovan in front of more than 4 million people (including regional viewers). In fact he very nearly didn’t even make the 2004 Top 12 finalists. After lucking out in his Semi Final he got a lifeline in the show’s Wildcard episode. Yet, after daring to sing The Prayer, he would eventually eke out a career with the fastest selling Australian single of all time.

Now on the other side of the audition panel for FOX8’s reality series Ultimate School Musical: Fame, he knows what it’s like having to let people down gently.

“It was a bit weird,” he tells TV Tonight. “I sat on panel and auditioned about 160 kids. So for me that was a first and I actually felt a little bit sorry for them. Obviously I know what it’s like to stand on that side of the desk. I’m usually on the other side, not sitting there judging.”

Callea serves as Vocal Coach on the series which leads a group of high school students through an intensive series of singing, dancing and acting classes, culminating in a public performance of the musical Fame.

“With the first few kids that came to the audition I actually said to myself, ‘How on earth am I going to get through this?’

“It killed me, it totally killed me because I had to say ‘No’ to most of them, and I don’t like getting a ‘No’ myself when I go to an audition,” he says.

“But at the end of the day we did have to remember they are kids. They are 12 to 18 year olds who never actually went to school and said ‘I wanna be on stage at the Regent Theatre.’ We actually invaded their school and said ‘You’re the school that we’ve chosen to put on a musical, so now come to us and audition for us and we’ll tell you if you are good enough.’”

The students in the series come from Essendon-Keilor College in northern Melbourne. Most of the students come from working class and multicultural families.

“It was a lot harder than what I expected it to be. It was great working with the kids but this is not a performing arts school. This is just an everyday school in Essendon and we’re working with kids who had never walked on a stage before,” says Callea.

“They’d never sung before, had never acted before, had never danced before. So they were totally raw and within a few weeks we needed to put on a full blown stage musical at the Regent Theatre. So how were we going to do this?”

Joining him for the task were performer-writer Eddie Perfect (Shane Warne: The Musical, Keating: The Musical) as Director, choregrapher Kelly Aykers (So You Think You Can Dance Australia) and host Ruby Rose (MTV, The 7PM Project).

The stage musical Fame, currently playing in Melbourne, is based on the 1980 movie which in turn inspired the hit television series of the same name. It features former Dance contestants Talia Fowler, ‘Timomatic’, Marko Panzic, and BJ Rork, plus actors Andrew McFarlane and Brian Wenzel. Creatives from the production, including director Kelley Abbey and producer John Frost will appear across the FOX8 series.

Callea wouldn’t be drawn on what cross-promo deals, if any, were at play between Foxtel and the Melbourne musical, but admits he didn’t have much say in the choice of material.

“We didn’t have any say in the show that we were doing. It worked obviously because John Frost is doing it, they teamed it in with a musical which is currently going to happen. So it makes sense because it actually had some relevance to why the kids were doing it. But we didn’t really have any say in what musical we were doing,” he says.

Having already watched the UK version of the show, Callea says he walked into this production with a fresh approach. Amongst the group that was selected to comprise the Fame company, the former singing teacher says they uncovered some budding talent.

“We did find a couple of singers in there. So it did make my job a little easier when it came to some of the leads. Still, it was a bit of task for me and something that I haven’t really done before.

“At the end of it all they really appreciated us going to their school and spending time with them and giving them this opportunity. You could tell they appreciated it. They were really good kids, all of them. To have a group of 20 something kids to work with, and all of them be appreciative, it was great,” he says.

“It never really felt like a chore.”

Ultimate School Musical: Fame airs 7:30pm tonight on FOX8.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Finding Fame

Finding fame in ultimate school musical

Kelly Aykers, Ruby Rose, Eddie Perfect and Anthony Callea.

Imagine you are in high school, sitting in your weekly assembly.

Suddenly, It girl Ruby Rose walks through the door and announces your school has been chosen to present her ultimate high school musical: Fame.

She then introduces the director, the choreographer and the vocal coach.

The director is Eddie Perfect, the man behind masterpieces such as Shane Warne – The Musical.

The choreographer is internationally renowned Kelly Aykers, one of the most popular choreographers on So You Think You Can Dance Australia.

The vocal coach is none other than the man who shot to fame in Australian Idol with his rendition of The Prayer, which became the fastest selling Australian single in history.

Exciting much?

Daunting much, when you realise you are going to have to perform in front of that group of people.

It gets even more scary when the final participants in the show are introduced, including John Frost, the producer of the Australian production of Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, Chicago and, of course, the new production of Fame, which is about to open in Melbourne.

Joining him is Australia's most popular choreographer and the choreographer- director of the professional production of Fame, Kelly Abbey.

That line-up would be enough to scuttle even the most seasoned performer, but the students at Essendon Keilor College stepped up to the challenge and wowed the team, which had to choose the cast for the production.

And despite not being a performing arts college, or even a college particularly known for embracing performing arts, Anthony Callea said an impressive cast had been found.

But for him, the challenge wasn't just sorting the wheat from the chaff: it was finding himself on the other side of the judging panel.

“It was ... totally mentally and emotionally draining for me,” he said.

“Each person who comes through, you want to give them your time and you want to give them some sort of feedback but it's hard ... you don't want to say no to these kids ... I just didn't know what to do.”

But with a job at hand, Anthony quickly drew on his Australian Idol experience and managed to help the kids out

“I thought it was pretty good that I was able to relate to these kids,” he said.

“It's not someone who is sitting on the other side of the desk who doesn't know anything about singing or performing.

“I have experienced it before. I know what it's like to get out there and sing. I know the butterflies and the games your head plays with you before an audition.”

And while the butterflies and the games make great television, the real joy is the reactions of the students who score their dream roles in the production.

For Anthony, the joy came from watching the journey of the students as they went from shy retiring types to true stars.

“If anything good came out of this show, it is the personal growth and the confidence of the kids,” he said.

With an intense rehearsal period where the team took the students from amateurs to hopefully being as professional as they could possibly be, the journey the students from Essendon Keilor College take is exciting, fun, emotional and passionate television.

And with a performance of the show to look forward to at the end, will it all turn out as planned?
“The end result surprised me,” Anthony said.

Ultimate School Musical premieres on Austar's Fox8 on Tuesday.
source SunshineCoast Daily

Monday, April 5, 2010

A.C Ace At Acer

New clips of Anthony's brilliant run as Special Guest Artist for Whitney Houston's Australian Concerts have surfaced. These somgs, from the Acer Arena Show, include a complete recording of his new song "I'll Be The One"...Enjoy!