Adelaide High School Head Prefect, Naomi Crosby, will be keeping the class in order tonight at the Festival Centre.
The Class of Cabaret, that is; a program where 27 young singers are mentored by some of the country’s cabaret greats before performing in a showcase of their talents.
Naomi is just one of many young hopefuls who auditioned for a highly sought after position in the program last year.
Winning a place in the production means being coached by the likes of musical director Matthew Carey, and mentored by Michael Griffiths, Kim Spargo, Amelia Ryan and Stacy McCandless, and Naomi is enjoying all the class has to offer.
“I’m loving it! It’s such a great experience. I can’t even believe I got in! I auditioned last year when I was in year ten for year eleven and I didn’t get in,” she says.
“I remember being so cut up because I’d heard such great things about it. I got in this year and everything has been so amazing. It’s everything I love doing: meeting new people, opportunities, talking to Barry Humphries. I love it!”
The 17-year-old, who is currently studying year 12 says becoming a performer changed her whole persona at a very young age.
“I was a very moody child. I was really quiet. I was born in Scotland and it’s a tradition there that you give money to the babies if they are cute. I was really cute, apparently, but I would scowl at people all the time. I think I got money, but I was a pretty aggro kid,” she laughs.
“Then when I was in year five, a teacher gave me an opportunity to join a choir called the Funky Jazzers. I was so nervous! I started crying when she asked me to sing a solo, but then within a week, my whole personality turned around. I started wanting to do musicals; I auditioned for a dance troupe where I was able to dance at the Festival Theatre, I wanted to perform.”
Naomi moved to Australia at age three, became a Funky Jazzer at Lockleys North Primary school and is now helping grow the performing arts program at Adelaide High School.
“I do solo, ensemble and performance so I get assessed on singing by myself and with a jazz band at school. I’m doing Creative Arts with Class of Cabaret as well,” she says.
“The school used to be very focused on academics, rowing and cricket, and they still are, but the performing arts are growing. We’re doing shows all around Adelaide. I sang at the Relay for Life. I’ve been really lucky. They’ve given me lots of opportunities.”
Through experience with school programs, dance troupes and the opportunity to take part in various performances, Naomi has set herself a goal to become a performer and brighten people’s lives.
“I’d love to do it as a living. I like performing so much that I don’t mind where I go with it, as long as I get to do it,” she says. “I really like performances that uplift; performances that don’t just make you feel good, but make people feel things – even if it’s playing Miss Hannigan in Annie or being an evil character. If it makes someone relate or feel an emotion, that’s where I want to be as an artist.”
As well as coaching the performers with their songs and onstage patter, Class of Cabaret took the youths away on a bootcamp of intensive cabaret training.
It’s experiences like these that have brought the cast close together, which Naomi says is one of the best parts of the program.
“We’ve already made such great friendships. I’ve made two best friends that I wouldn’t have made if it weren’t for Class of Cabaret. It’s been so good,” she says.
Making best friends and taking advice from legend of stage and screen, and Cabaret Festival Director, Barry Humphries, are just some of the perks of Class of Cabaret.
“Barry Humphries said something that really got to me when he spoke to us. He was talking about how he prepares for his show. He said he comes in before the show and looks at where the audience is going to be, when there’s no one there, and he says to himself that people in the audience have goodwill. It’s got to be pretty bad for them to leave,” Naomi says.
“So I took that on board because people do come to see you as a performer. They’re looking for something, and what I’ve learned from this experience is that you can actually do that from your own gifts and experiences and what you love. You can do something for somebody else. Cabaret isn’t just about getting up there, wearing a nice dress and singing the best you can. All the mentors have all been very giving as well.”
And tonight at Class of Cabaret, Naomi Crosby will give you a smile, her rendition of a family favourite, and she’s not quite sure what else you’ll get.
“The audience can expect some awkward jokes!” she laughs. “And a lot of smiling – I always smile when I’m nervous. I’m singing ‘Climb Every Mountain’ so they can expect to be expecting; I couldn’t tell you what they should expect! I don’t know myself, to be honest! I want it to be uplifting.”
Catch Naomi and the rest of the Class of Cabaret at the Festival Theatre tonight at 6pm and 8:30pm.
By Libby Parker