The Rob Guest Endowment commemorates the life and achievements of one of Australia’s most respected musical theatre performers, Rob Guest, who passed away suddenly in 2008.
Now in it’s 10th year, the six finalists compete for a prize of $20,000 intended to help them gain the performance experience, media training, guidance and a public image to become a leading artist in the Australian musical theatre industry.
Previous winners have included Georgina Hopson, Daniel Assetta, Joshua Robson, Samantha Leigh Dodemaide, Glenn Hill, Blake Bowden, Francine Cain and Danielle Matthews.
Over the next two weeks, in the lead up to the November 19th final, we will be getting to know each of the six finalists a little better. Now it is time to meet out fifth finalist: Todd Jacobsson.
Originally from Ballarat, Todd trained at BBC Studios before venturing off to tour the world as a guest entertainer with The Aussie Boys (Barry Ball Artists – USA), performing on board various cruise lines.
Todd is currently performing in the Australian premier of The Book Of Mormon, understudying the role of Elder Price, and will soon play the role of Tony in GWB/Opera Australia’s upcoming Australian/International tour of West Side Story.
Tell us about yourself.
Hi, My name is Todd Jacobsson, and I’m 23 years old. I grew up in Ballarat, Victoria, about an hour from Melbourne, and have spent my entire life working towards one goal, working in Musical Theatre. I spent my childhood and teenage years singing, dancing and taking every chance I could to perform in-front of anyone who’d listen! I finished high school and went straight on to cruise ships performing with The Aussie Boys, which took me all around the world. My first professional musical was at age 18 with The Production Company in The Pirates of Penzance, then followed by Guys and Dolls. I’m currently in my second year with The Book of Mormon playing ‘Elder White’ and understudying ‘Elder Price’ and next year will play the role of ‘Tony’ in the upcoming Australian/International Tour of West Side Story.
When did you know you wanted to be a performer?
Since I was a kid I was always singing and dancing. I started dance classes when I was 6, singing lessons the year after, and started doing musicals when I was 10. I remember for my 13th birthday my Mum took me to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne, it was then that I realised that some people actually get to do this as a full time job for a living. Once I figured that out I’ve never looked back, there was literally no other option!
What is your training background?
Unlike most people I actually didn’t go to a formal university for musical theatre, it wasn’t my intention, but it’s how it turned out. I grew up “studying” as a child, my life revolved around singing lessons, dance classes and all of the local community theatre I could do. At 18, my first job was singing on a cruise ship, and from there, I have learnt on the job from the people around me.
What does Rob Guest’s legacy mean to you?
Rob Guests legacy to me, is so important, To know that someone so prolific in our industry was so dedicated to nurturing young talent is such an inspiring trait, and although I was never lucky enough to meet or work with Rob, many of my friends have, and benefitted from the Endowment experience, and I think its to his credit that in such a hard industry he was so motivated in the helping of others.
This can be a tough industry. What keeps you going?
You can say that again, My absolute love for it! Any day I’m a little tired, or doubting myself that I didn’t hit that note, or didn’t book that job, I remember that this is the one thing I’ve wanted to do all my life, and at the moment, I’m one of the few people that are lucky enough to get to do that. Thats all the motivation that I need. Also to have the most loving and supportive group of family and friends around me certainly helps. My Mum has seen Mormon 50 plus times and is still the first person I call after an audition whether it was positive or not. She always tells me exactly what I need to hear.
What is the best advice you have been given?
Be “happy to be there and easy to work with”, I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve worked with some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, who are just as talented as they are kind, so there’s no excuses for anyone! Also, just to never stop learning, each audition, performance, or 8 show week is yet another opportunity to keep growing as performer and as a human.
Do you have any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
No superstitions as such, but I am a fitness junkie, and a workout pre-show brings out all the endorphins and puts me in the best state of mind mentally and physically going into the building. A good vocal warmup is essential at Book Of Mormon as we are screaming to the high heavens, and us mormon boys have a few little rituals we do before each show, simple things like tapping bibles before we go on, and a few other secrets that are special to us.
You are currently appearing in Book of Mormon. What is your favourite thing about working on this show?
I still pinch myself everyday that I’m in this show, Its such a worldwide cultural phenomenon and was always a dream of mine to be apart of, and I’m still as excited walking on that stage as when we opened back in Melbourne. My favourite thing is the nature of the show and the people in it, it’s such a silly, fun, high energy joyride nightly, that you’re laughing on and off the stage, and us 8 mormon boys are like a family, they’re the ones that make it easy to do the same thing every night for 2 years.
Next year you are appearing as Tony in West Side Story. How are you preparing for the role?
Yes! Something that still hasn’t quite hit me yet, but I’m incredibly excited about!
It’s still a little while away, but I know Tony is one of the toughest sings out there, so getting my voice into that rich legit sound is definitely a hard task at hard, but one that excites me. Acting wise, it’s also the complete opposite to Book of Mormon, so I’m excited to explore that heavier side of story telling, and getting to do with some of the most beautiful material to perform definitely helps, I’m a very lucky boy!