Gretel Scarlett: Rob Guest Endowment Finalist 2011

The 2011 Rob Guest Endowment will take place at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne next week (Monday 10 October) and in the lead up to the gala concert, will feature a short interview with each of the 6 finalists.’s Cassie Tongue asks each finalist 10 quick questions about life, the industry and their pre-performance rituals!

Our first interview is with WAAPA graduate Gretel Scarlett, who will be touring with the blockbuster musical Wicked to Asia next year, and has performed in the Australian tours of Wicked, Mama Mia and Breast Wishes. 

Gretel Scarlett

1. When did you know you wanted to be a performer?

I began performing as a young child, so I was always the girl at either singing, dancing or speech and drama lessons. The town I grew up in had a lot of older kids accepted in to WAAPA, so I do remember saying when I was around 10 years old, that I was going to study Music Theatre at WAAPA. I did detour along the way though – I moved to Sydney at 15 years of age to study Full-time ballet at Alegria Dance Studios; but somehow the professional ballet world wasn’t for me. I completed that year and went back to school to finish my education. After graduation, I decided to study Nuclear Medicine at The University of Sydney. Towards the end of my first year, my hunger for the stage returned and at age 17, I had my first audition for WAAPA, was offered a place, I accepted and the rest is history!

2. What do you hope to achieve from the Rob Guest Endowment process?

The process has allowed me the opportunity to work with and perform in front of such a high calibre of industry professionals. Being a part of this Rob Guest Endowment process has allowed me to both challenge myself and further hone my performance skills. I am hoping that my participation in this award will allow me to continue to learn and grow as a young Australian performer, and to help explore and further my own artistic versatility.

3. When you found out you were a finalist, what was the first thing you did?

I was so thrilled to hear that I was invited to be one of the six finalists. It was a rather full on day, having done the red eye flight from Perth with no sleep, a two hour dance call and then waiting around to sing; so I received my call as I was crazily on my way to the Sydney airport to fly back to Perth for an 8 show week of Wicked, two full rehearsal days followed by my first Elphaba tech run! Of course I was ecstatic to hear such wonderful news, but damn I was tired!! HAHA!

4. What is the most exciting thing about music theatre in Australia?

Having worked in a number of shows now, all lead by such industry professionals with an abundance of experience under their belt, I personally feel that the most exciting thing about Australian musical theatre is how supportive the more experienced actors and directors are, and how nurturing they are towards the up and coming generation of performers. I have been so fortunate to have worked with so many older and well know actors who have been so willing to pass their wealth of knowledge and advice down to me. It truly is one of the most rewarding things about theatre in this country! Similarly, The Rob Guest Endowment is indicative of how enthusiastic this theatre veteran was, in encouraging and advising young professional artists to develop and shape their careers.

5. If you could play any role (regardless of criteria such as age, gender, etc) what would it be?

Mama Rose… or Norma Desmond… or JC Superstar… Enough said.

6. What’s your go-to, belt-it-out-in-the-shower song?

I’m not really a shower singer, but generally my showers are always before work, so it’s the Warm Me Up iPhone App! If not, generally anything top 40, Sara Bareilles, Brooke Fraser, Eminem…

7. How are you preparing for the upcoming concert?

Learning lyrics…

8. Do you have any pre-performance rituals that you follow?

Yes I do actually… it’s to be the last to the stage! Anyone in Wicked will understand this – Especially Stage Management and the Sound guys! I’m usually hanging backstage entertaining the Wardrobe and Wigs department until the pre-show announcement.

9. What’s the best piece of theatrical advice that you have been given?

A director once told me to never try to mimic someone else’s performance in a role and to understand that we are all different. Yes there are boundaries, but realistically, each person brings something different to the role; both new and fresh. It’s actually a great piece of advice for understudies and people working alongside understudies.

10. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?

Dearly, I would love to have a lead role in Australia under my belt by that stage; but my long term goal is to either work or study in Australia or London.

More About Gretel…

Gretel Scarlett graduated from WAAPA in 2008 after being awarded the prestigious Leslie Anderson Award for the best overall Showcase Performance, The Hal Leonard Award and the 2007 Finley Award. Upon graduation, Gretel was cast in the 2009 Australian tour of Breast Wishes making her professional debut in the role of Sal.

Gretel was then cast in the 10th Anniversary Tour of Mamma Mia! understudying and performing the main juvenile roles of Sophie Sheridan, Ali, and Lisa. Gretel is also currently appearing as the Witch’s Mother in the 2011 Australian tour of Wicked, as well as understudying the roles of Nessarose and Elphaba. She will be continuing her Wicked journey as part of the 2012 International tour.

Gretel’s theatre credits include Hello Again, Oklahoma!, Sweeney Todd, West Side Story and the lead role of Mrs Johnstone in WAAPA’S production of Blood Brothers.

Having completed her Trinity & AMEB Classical Voice and Speech/Drama Examinations, Gretel also studied full-time Classical Ballet at Alegria Dance Studios under the guidance of RAD Dual Examiner Hilary Kaplan, completing her final RAD Examination (ARAD), Cecchetti Ballet Exams as well as Contemporary, FATD Jazz & Tap. Gretel’s choreographic credits include official WAAPA Choreographer for Sweeney Todd and Loving Repeating, Associate Choreographer for both Hello Again (WAAPA) and also Hello Again (Darlinghurst Theatre).

More information on the Rob Guest Endowment:

Triple Threat? Be Our Guest 

2011 Rob Guest Endowment: Finalists Announced

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and was the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

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