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Can you share a bit about your background and journey into the world of theatre? 

Tony: I discovered theatre through film. I grew up watching a lot of silent movies with comedians like Charlie Chaplin who had their beginnings in music hall and vaudeville. This led to a love for musical theatre, and a fascination with the relationship between Broadway and Hollywood, particularly during the golden age where most movie musicals were adapted from the New York stage. Eventually, I became inspired by the magic of the theatre. I was lucky that my Grandmother noticed this interest and during my teenage years, I was taken to everything; plays, ballet, opera, symphony. It was the ultimate education. From here, I was very fortunate to attend a local school of excellence program in the performing arts. They are a little more commonplace now, but it was an enriching experience to spend half my day in senior school studying dance, music and drama! This gave me an excellent grounding where I have strived to build my life around this singular passion for theatre, both as an actor and director.

What kind of informal or formal training did you undergo? How has this shaped your approach to your work?

Tony: I studied Drama at QUT and later completed postgraduate studies in guidance and counselling. On reflection, I could not have asked for a better place to complete my undergraduate studies. The Drama degree had such variety, from studies in acting to the entrepreneurial aspects of the creative industries. I experienced having my thinking challenged by academics who opened up a world of possibilities about what performance could look like. At the time, I found this disruptive approach quite daunting but ultimately it strengthened my perspective. My postgraduate studies taught me about the importance of building relationships and communication within the arts. I learnt never to underestimate the impact of supporting and empowering other creatives.  

Couldn't agree more, because it is precisely what Stage Buzz is all about too! Do you have a particularly memorable project from your theatre career so far?

Tony: Soon after I first graduated, I was invited to work as assistant director for the late, great Bille Brown, AM. From time to time, we are all touched by little pieces of magic. Working with Bille brought an incredible new focus into my creative life. His discipline and sense of structure was inspirational. Learning from Bille was an unrivalled masterclass. He exposed me to a directing style that struck the balance between explicit instruction and instilling a sense of discovery in his actors.

Sounds like a great opportunity for a post-graduate! Speaking of directing, can you share any strategies or techniques you use to maintain a positive and productive rehearsal environment?

Tony: I always promote the importance of effective planning throughout the production process. I believe it is essential to utilise the precious commodity of time within rehearsals. In conjunction with the entire creative team, I strive to develop a rehearsal and production schedule that compartmentalises the show to ensure a variety of activities are occurring, and every cast member is active within every rehearsal session. Importantly, this places the work at the heart of the entire experience. As well, I encourage all company members to engage fully as viewers, when they are not performing, during the initial runs. I consider this an important shared experience amongst the entire cast. This effective planning, coupled with a motivated and energised cast, fosters a positive and rewarding creative experience. As the late, great Broadway artist Ann Reinking once said, “the joy is in the work”.


Can you share any upcoming projects or productions you’re excited about, and what we can expect from them?

Tony: I am very excited to have launched my own business. I am an advocate for the transformative power of the arts. I recognise and value its ability to elevate all aspects of life. With this vision in mind, I have created ‘The Ovation Program’. This short course is an 8-week experience that offers a safe, inclusive, and productive environment, encouraging risk-taking and skill development. It has been tailored for those who are seeking to refine their craft, as well as those who are intrigued by the idea of stepping into a creative space. As well as learning about character building and voice and movement, the course also serves as a platform to finesse soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and self-motivation. I have structured the program with a clear beginning, middle and end with supportive instruction, guidance and feedback every step of the way. The course concludes with the presentation of short scripted scene learnt throughout the sessions.

(Register to participate in The Ovation Program: or email:

Congratulations on your business launch! Without giving too much away from the program, what advice do you have for individuals aspiring to pursue a career on the stage or behind the scenes?

Tony: I think Dame Julie Andrews said it best in her recent memoir, “Home Work”:

“You just don’t know in life. Life knocks you about and pushes you over boundaries. But be ready. Do your homework; that’s all I can say”.

I think there’s something profound in this view. Never underestimate the power of real preparation.

What do you love most about working in the theatre industry, and what keeps you motivated and passionate about your role?

Tony: In my opinion, it all comes down to sharing meaningful stories. We are all story-tellers who can take advantage of the opportunity to use the existing resources of local theatre or student theatre to amplify and enrich our community. I am also inspired by our rich history of artists, academics, technicians and musicians who make up the creative tapestry of our industry. But most importantly, it’s the unsung heroes, those who maintain our theatre spaces from front of house to backstage. These pieces of infrastructure allow us to practice our craft.  It is their quiet love for this artform that keeps us rolling along.

You're so right. Lastly, can you share any memorable or inspiring moments that have reaffirmed your love for theatre and the arts?

Tony: I recently attended the closing night of the Broadway musical, “Some Like It Hot” at the Shubert Theatre in New York City. YouTube has taught us that Broadway closing nights are very sacred events where audience members are particularly excited. There are many beautiful ‘fourth wall breaking’ moments where the actors have no choice but to quietly acknowledge the audience in order to keep the show moving. It is the ultimate shared experience of celebrating artistry. What I didn’t anticipate was the number of Broadway luminaries in attendance! Songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Director Casey Nicholaw along with Aaron Tveit and Patti LuPone. Sitting metres away from these legends was like watching two shows at once. However, what I found very striking was their humble, everyday nature as they applauded their colleagues and engaged in enthusiastic interval discussion about the show. They were just like anyone else I know having an incredible night at the theatre. It made me realise we are so similarly connected by this artform, with a deep love for the work and the craft.  


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