Top Acts 2012 Review

Last Friday evening I attended Top Acts, the final event in the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s Season of Excellence program, at The Palais, St. Kilda.

As usual, this concert was a combination of Victorian Certificate of Education 2011 performance examination pieces, selected from the various Top Class Drama, Theatre Studies, Music and Dance (including VET) concerts.

Focusing mainly on the Drama and Theatre Studies inclusions in this year’s Top Acts concert, I have to say the Theatre Studies monologues were outstanding.

Kieran Scallan (Caulfield Grammar School, Wheeler’s Hill Campus) performed a fabulous interpretation of Richard from Shakespeare’s Richard III, complete with American Presidential references. A finely executed performance with stunning use of gesture, accent and focus.

Jacqueline Essing from Kilbreda College, Mentone, performed a monologue from the character Doug, from the well-known Australian play Cosi. This was a highly accomplished performance of a mental institution patient with a passion for lighting fires. Essing’s use of facial expression and voice were particularly impressive, resulting in a very comical and engaging performance.

In hindsight, there was probably room for a third monologue performance from the VCE Theatre Studies course, taking the place of one of the four solo performances from Drama. Two of the solo performances were of a very high standard this year.

Samuel Howard from Viewbank College, Rosanna, performed a hilarious rendition of Baldrick from Black Adder. I suspect last year’s examiners may have seen quite a number of high scoring Baldrick solo performances, perhaps resulting in some difficult decisions for Top Class and Top Acts selection. Howard’s sense of comic timing was outstanding, with clever use of object transformation (saucepan). Lots of energy and skills turned into praise and thunderous applause from the mostly student audience at The Palais.

Eamon Glass from Beaconhills Colege, Pakenham, performed a Drama solo performance of The Household Appliance. Performing as a kettle, Glass had a cleverly written script and a highly physical piece, also with lots of energy. This was a fine performance, showing tight editing and refinement in its development.

Of note from other disciplines was Rachael findlay from Wesley College, Melbourne, singing The Girl in 14G, a very humourous number by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlon, originally written for musical performer Kristin Chenoweth’s debut album Let Yourself Go. Wow! What a voice! What character! What expression! I hope we see this young lady on the musical stage soon.

Probably the highlight of the 2012 Top Acts concert was David Sirianni also from Viewbank College, Rosanna (what’s in the water at Viewbank!?), and Isolation Performing Arts Studio, Airport West. Sirianni’s jazz dance to Cuban Pete was an absolute showstopper! Period. What a delight to see such wonderful work.

This year several of the student performers are still continuing their VCE in 2012, meaning there were a number of very talented young people in the Top Acts concert who were in Year 11 when they performed their examination last year.

Once again, Top Acts was a wonderful display of student talent in the performing arts in Victoria.

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