Adelaide-based performing artist, Elisabeth ‘Libby’ Anderson, has been offered, and has accepted, a place in the Bachelor of Music Theatre (BMT) course at the Elder Conservatorium of Music following a competitive first round of auditions in September. With a further audition season scheduled for late November, she impressed the panel enough to be offered a place following the initial round.
Anderson has been a client of The Serenade Files’ music studio since January 2019. Her conscientious attitude has resulted in significant development of her vocal craft. The Year 12 student of Torrens Valley Christian School reflected on her recent success in an interview between juggling shows at night and her studies during the day.
What inspired you to pursue music theatre studies after high school?
There are many reasons why I’ve chosen to study music theatre. From as early as I can remember, music theatre has been all I’ve wanted to do. When I was six years old I was taken on an overseas family holiday. Included in our travels was a night spent on the West End to see Mary Poppins. I vividly recall this wonderful experience.
My mum possibly enjoyed the show slightly less, given the consistent pestering she endured. Throughout the entirety of the show, I flooded her with questions ‘how can I do what that girl does?’, ‘how did she get up there?’, ‘I want to do that’. This was really the awakening as such, of my passion for the arts. As I complete my time at school, I remain as passionate about music theatre as I ever was (if not more!).
I love the profound impact that theatre can have on an audience. I am particularly taken by its ability to teach people about both themselves and others. I love experiencing it for myself and more so, providing this experience for others. I cannot wait to begin my studies, furthering my skills and experience in this wonderful industry.
Give us a brief overview of your performing arts training to date?
A large proportion of my performing arts training has been dance-focused. At age five, I began taking dance lessons at Premier School of Dance. I have continued my training with Premier and remain a current student. My classes include training in classical ballet, jazz, tap, music theatre, hip-hop, contemporary and lyrical genres.
This training has included performance in competition and examination capacities. Of these exams, I have recently completed the Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dancing (CSTD) jazz and tap syllabi. I also completed Stage 1 and 2 Dance as an external student at Golden Grove High School.
I began formal voice lessons at approximately age 12. Many of these years were spent being taught by Erin McKellar, who studied Jazz voice at the Elder Conservatorium. From January of this year, I have been having voice lessons with the lovely Jennifer Trijo. Both of these wonderful teachers have been Estill trained and I have also completed the level 1 Estill voice course.
Of the three facets of music theatre, I am least trained in acting. I participated in acting workshop classes with Adrian Barnes, which were approximately eight months in duration. Aside from this, my acting training has been solely from guidance within various performances and musicals. Many of these have been with Adelaide Youth Theatre.
How did you feel during your Bachelor of Music Theatre audition, and thereafter when you were offered a role in the course?
As anyone would be, I was quite nervous in the lead up to my audition for the Bachelor of Music Theatre. After various ‘up and down’ auditions over the years, more than anything, I so badly wanted to be happy with my personal audition performance. Yes, I certainly wanted to score a place in the course, however, in the lead up to my audition, I found myself voicing concerns more to the likes of ‘what if my voice gives out on me?’, ‘what if I don’t execute this to my best ability?’, ‘what if nerves get the better of me?’.
After many rehearsals, I finally found myself in a place where I was ready (as ready as I would ever be, at least!). I woke up on the Friday morning of my audition and reminded myself that I was ready. Not only had I been preparing for this audition for months, but for the past several years. To my surprise, my arrival at the Madley rehearsal studio (where the audition would take place), wasn’t accompanied by an unbearable sense of nerves. I was filled with anticipation but was also unusually relaxed and excited for what was to come.
In contrast to the stigma surrounding auditions, the process that followed was one of extreme warmth and one which I really enjoyed. I forced myself to remain focused throughout my audition. However, the personable and warm nature of the panel enabled me to relax and simply be myself. I was really pleased with my performance in the initial audition and callback round. Following this, I had to exercise the great art of letting go as I eagerly awaited the results. When I received the call this week to say that I had been offered a place, I was elated, grateful and overjoyed. I feel extremely blessed.
What advice do you have for anyone auditioning for the BMT in the future?
To be honest I consider myself something of a newbie to auditioning, but there are a few pieces of advice that I would pass on to potential future auditionees.
Firstly, early and thorough preparation is everything. Personally, there is no greater catalyst for audition nerves, than being underprepared! By preparing with adequate time, I found that I was relaxed and comfortable with my audition material. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I would encourage anyone auditioning to just be yourself. Cliché, yes, but it’s true. Many times I have fallen into the trap of comparison. In fact, this might have been the first audition that I entered with a focus on what I was able to offer, rather than concerning myself with both my own shortcomings and what others possess that I do not.
I believe altering my mindset in this area allowed me to be the best version of myself. Finally, I would remind others that they cannot control the process or dictate audition outcomes. What they can do is show the panel who they are with honesty, vulnerability and passion. I will continue to remind myself of this as I move forward in this industry.
How do you hope to use this training, as an artist, for your personal career goals?
I see this training as an invaluable opportunity to grow in both skills and understanding of the music theatre industry. I am excited to work collaboratively with like-minded students and staff, expanding my expertise and love for this craft. My hope is to complete the course and be in a position to audition for opportunities in professional theatre. Just as importantly, I hope that throughout this course I can further discover who I am as a unique artist.
Anderson is currently part of the cast of Mamma Mia! which must close Saturday 26 October. Visit the Elder Conservatorium of Music’s website for more information about auditions for the Bachelor of Music Theatre course.