The challenge is on. The cast of Hunter Drama’s production of RENT, Jonathan Larson’s celebrated rock musical, hit the studio to record their covers before opening night at the Newcastle Playhouse on October 20. Allon Silove at 90 Degree Studio Academy, Newcastle, recorded the tracks, which were released on the Hunter Drama Facebook page. A new video has been posted each week since August when Ali Hodge, who will play Mrs Jefferson in October, covered The Eagles’ Desperado.
Desperado – Ali Hodge
Alison has more than 15 years of stage experience. Since moving home to Newcastle, she has appeared in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Mary Poppins’.
If This Is It – Nick Stabler
Over the years, Nick has played a wide variety of roles including Billy Flynn in Chicago, Perchik in Fiddler on the Roof, Chris in Miss Saigon and Chad in Disney’s High School Musical to name a few.
Stabler will play Benny in the Hunter Drama’s RENT production, and covered Newton Faulkner’s If This Is It on August 8.
Heartbreak Hotel – Josh Holloway
Newcomer Josh Holloway went for a classic rock tune for the third installment of the series, covering Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel.
Holloway has appeared in a handful of shows around Newcastle, including Hunter Drama’s production of Peter Pan. He will play The Man in RENT.
Thriller – Tyler Chapman
You haven’t heard Thriller like this before.
Tyler is a 19 year old singer/songwriter from Newcastle. Since the age of 7, he’s been busking the streets and honing his skills and has created his own fusion of folk, pop and RnB sounds in his music.
He will play Mr Jefferson in October.
Born This Way – James Tolhurst
A versatile dancer and teacher, James Tolhurst has a range of experiences as performer and choreographer. Working closely with the Metropolitan Players, James has performed in and choreographed productions of Grease, Phantom of the Opera, Hairspray, Mary Poppins and Wicked.
Tolhurst covered Born This Way by Lady Gaga and will play Squeegee Man in RENT from October 20.
Runaway – Bec Fitzsimmons
Bec Fitzsimmons, who will play Joanne come October, has been performing professionally for over 10 years, working with bands in genres ranging from pop, to rock, to country music. She has worked closely on projects with Darren Percival, Ian (Dicko) Dickinson, Gary Pinto and Bill Chambers.
In the sixth edition of the cast covers challenge, Fitzsimmons delivered this performance of Bonnie Raitt’s Runaway.
Nightminds – Allison Van Gaal
Allison Van Gaal, who will play Mimi’s Mother in RENT, graduated from Newcastle Conservatorium of Music with a Bachelor of Music (Voice) and also has a Graduate Diploma of Teaching.
She performed Missy Higgin’s Nightminds in the seventh installement of the cast covers challenge.
Let’s Stay Together – David Geise
Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together was David Geise’s contribution to the weekly challenge.
Geise, who will play Tom Collins, is a seasoned performer and session vocalist who has been working professionally in the music industry for the last 10 years. He has sung lead vocals in a variety of Newcastle Bands, including for the successful trio KDL, and has frequently lended his voice for radio commercial work.
Make You Feel My Love – Kacie Bourke
Nineteen-year-old Kacie Bourke, who will play Lexi Darling in October, took on Adele’s hit take on Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love.
Bourke has been singing, dancing and acting since the age of 6 and last year graduated from The Hunter School of the Performing Arts. For many years Kacie was a featured soloist in Newcastle’s Starstruck.
The Blower’s Daughter – Luke Baker
Luke Baker’s bio described him as “the busiest performer in Newcastle Theatre”.
This year he has already performed as Marius in Les Miserables and Mickey in Blood Brothers. Luke is a senior music teacher at St. Francis Xavier's College and has been working as a vocal teacher in Newcastle for the past 10 years.
His cover of Damien Rice’s The Blower’s Daughter promises incredible talent for RENT, in which he will play Angel.
Wayfaring Stranger – Megan Connelly
Megan Connelly made her theatre debut in Metropolitan Players' 2013 production of Phantom of the Opera. With a newfound love of musical theatre Megan went on to perform with Metropolitan Players in their productions of Hairspray, Mary Poppins, Wicked and Les Miserables.
Connelly will play Mrs Cohen in RENT.
RENT tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City's East Village in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV. Tickets are available from Ticketek.