Daniel Assetta takes out the 2015 Rob Guest Endowment Award

Rob Guest Endowment Recipient Daniel Assetta with Delta Goodrem at the Rob Guest Endowment Gala 2015, taken at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney, on Monday, 9 November 2015.
Rob Guest Endowment Recipient Daniel Assetta with CATS cast mate Delta Goodrem at the Rob Guest Endowment Gala 2015. Image by Robert Catto

22 year old Daniel Assetta has won the coveted Rob Guest Endowment Award after performing at a star studded Grand Final Concert in Sydney last night.

Presented by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW and hosted by David Campbell and Lucy Durack, the exciting event, now in its 7th year, featured performances by Rob Mills, Caroline O’Connor, Jemma Rix, Mark Vincent, the 2014 RGE winner Joshua Robson, as well as cast members from CATS and Matilda the Musical. 

Competing against five other outstanding Semi-Finalists on the Lyric Theatre stage (the Matilda set has never seen such an array of musical performances!) for a panel of expert judges including Kellie Dickerson, Kelley Abbey, Peter Casey and Gale Edwards, Daniel Assetta took out the prestigious award with his performance of ‘Goodbye’ from Catch Me If You Can and ‘Memphis Lives in Me’ from Memphis the Musical. Assetta is currently staring as Rum Tum Tugger in the current Australian production of CATS, and his cast mates (including birthday girl pop sensation Delta Goodrem) were  in the wings ready for their closing performance when the winner was announced.

Daniel took home $20,000 as the major prize winner, and finalists were each awarded $1,500.

The Melbourne’s East End Theatre District Artist Development Award – a $5,000 cash prize for a ‘promising young music theatre talent’ – went to current Les Miserables cast member Robert McDougall, who performed ‘New Words’ (In The Beginning) and ‘Epiphany’ (Sweeney Todd) for the competition. This award is an initiative of Mike Walsh and the Marriner family.

Blake Appelqvist, who will perform his VCA showcase today in Sydney ahead of beginning rehearsals for Ghost The Musical later this month performed ‘I’ve Been’ from Next To Normal and ‘What Do I Need With Love’ from Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Darling of the independent stage Hilary Cole, took to the stage with ‘I Remember’ from Evening Primrose and ‘If You Hadn’t But You Did’ from Two On The Aisle.

Queensland’s Georgina Hopson, who recently starred in Harvest Rain’s Into The Woods with Rachael Beck, Eddie Perfect and Rhonda Burchmore, showed her vocal versatility with ‘If I Loved You’ (Carousel) and ‘Someone Like You’ (Jekyll and Hyde).

Ashleigh Rubenach, who is currently in rehearsals for The Sound Of Music, chose another Rogers and Hammerstein classic in ‘Wonderful Guy’ (South Pacific) and finished her program with the haunting ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’ from Phantom of the Opera. 

The six finalists at the Rob Guest Endowment Gala, 2015. Image by Robert Catto
The six finalists at the Rob Guest Endowment Gala, 2015. Image by Robert Catto

The Playbill Future Prospect Award went to Rubin Matters. This award, generously sponsored by Playbill, is a $1,500 cash prize to a semi-finalist who didn’t make the finals but the judges wanted to encourage to return to the competition next year.

This year saw the return of two categories recognising further excellence in other fields of musical theatre. The Rob Guest Endowment Technical Award in Honour of Sue Nattrass was awarded to Drew Cipollone and the Rob Guest Endowment Musician Award was won by Jack Earl. Funded by the Capitol Theatre and the Sydney Lyric Theatre, both winners took home a $10,000 cash prize intended to help fund the tuition and experience needed to help them become leaders in their field.

The Rob Guest Endowment executive committee, Kellie Dickerson, Stephen Found and Bernadette Hayes, were blown away by the calibre of talent on stage at the Gala Concert.

Rob Guest Endowment Patron, John Frost AM, says the Rob Guest Endowment Awards are an incredible legacy.  The late Rob Guest had a career that spanned over 40 years, making him a much loved Musical Theatre star and a household name to audiences throughout Australia, New Zealand and overseas.

Less well known to audiences was his role as mentor and adviser to many young performers he worked with over the years, helping them through rough spots and guiding them in their career development. Following his sudden and unexpected death in 2008 while performing the role of the Wizard of Oz in WICKED, the Rob Guest Endowment was set up as a tribute to this outstanding performer to continue his work in nurturing and progressing young developing talent in the Musical Theatre industry.

“Rob Guest was an inspiration to all, and a great teacher and mentor to those he worked with,” said Frost.

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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