Victoria’s stars of the future

On Friday night, St Kilda’s iconic Palais Theatre will host an evening of some of Victoria’s most exceptional emerging performers in a concert event like no other – known most aptly as Top Acts. Clare Pickering went behind the scenes to talk with returning artistic director, Naomi Edwards, about this one night only extravaganza.

Jessie Hamilton, Top Acts
Jessie Hamilton, Top Acts

Top Acts is the pinnacle event in the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) Season of Excellence and the culmination of a series of concerts held throughout 2011 called Top Class.

All performances were produced as part of VCE studies in the disciplines of Music Composition, Music Investigation, Drama and Theatre Studies, VCE Dance and VCE Vocational Education and Training (VET) Dance.

These concerts include performers from government, Catholic and independent schools that not only showcases the extraordinary talent of these performers, but provides the current students and teachers with an insight into what a Class A performance is.

The very best of these performers are then selected to participate in Top Acts.

As Edwards explains, “It is my role to put the show together as a night that flows.  The pieces chosen are the best of last year’s drama, theatre studies, dance, music performance and original musical works – selected from over 170 performers in the Top Class concert series.”

Edwards, began rehearsing with the students on a one-on-one basis arranging the work to be performed on stage. As Edwards explains, “These acts have been prepared for an exam situation, so changes need to be made for performance to the audience, getting the students to open up and play to a larger space.  The drama students are guided to improve their clarity and ensure their storytelling is clear.”

The students then come together to rehearse for one day as a full company prior to the technical rehearsal and performance.  And of course these students are continuing with their own individual rehearsals right up to opening night.

What sets this concert event apart from most other high school performances is the level of excellence.  Edwards says participation in this event means she “demands a higher level of professionalism and attitude from these students”.

This event heralds the completion of a long journey of the students’ pieces and forms an important part of their professional development.  Edwards says that friendships and collaborations are often formed by participants in Top Acts and is a “kick off to a new phase in their creative lives”

Top Acts includes over 30 solo and group performers showcasing their works over two hours.  The acts range from solo drama pieces to percussion, flamenco and music investigation.  It is a smorgasbord of interpretation, creativity and exploration, providing a delectable feast for the audience.

Edwards, who has worked with Opera Australia, the Melbourne and Sydney Theatre companies, Bell Shakespeare Company and currently teaches at the Victoria College of the Arts (VCA) knows a great about talented artists.

“Many people underestimate what young people are capable of – their talent, hard work and dedication.  I am always overwhelmed by how fantastic the students are.  They are truly spell binding.  Their level of creativity and innovation is extraordinary.  They are accomplished artists in their own right.”

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the extraordinary journey of the players and performers of Top Acts.

Top Acts

Friday 25 May at 7.30pm

Palais Theatre, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda

More information:

Tickets and bookings go to or call 13 61 00

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