Alinta Chidzey on theater, music and all that jazz!

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If you look up the word “versatile” in the dictionary, there should be a photo of Alinta Chidzey.

During her years as a performer, she appeared in an incredibly wide range of roles both on stage and on screen, as well as in various concerts. The credits of the first stage include the Australasian Tour of Mom Mia!, Demeter in Cats, and the Dutch season of Dirty dance.

She has become a staple of The Production Company, playing in a range of roles including Mary Magdalene (Jesus Christ Superstar) Magnolia (Show boat) and Kathy Selden (Sing in the rain), Svetlana (Chess), Niki Harris (Curtains) and, more recently, Sibella (A men’s guide to love and murder), for which she won the Green Room Award for Best Supporting Female Artist.

Alinta is arguably best known for her sassy portrayal of Anita in West Side Story, a performance for which she won the Australian Dance Award for Most Outstanding Performance, and was nominated for a Helpmann, Green Room Award and Sydney Theater Award.

Newly announced as Velma Kelly of Australia, Alinta has her work cut out for her before heading to the cell block. In July, she will grace the MTC stage as Petra in the Sondheim classic. A little night music alongside some of Australia’s most respected artists, and later this month she is releasing an album with her band The Jazz Emperors.

But before all that, she’ll be performing at the Arts Center Melbourne’s Morning Melodies next week. Accompanied by her group, Alinta will perform a tribute to the divas of jazz.

How are you feeling about 2019 so far?

It’s a huge year. It’s amazing, it’s very complete with a lot of creative things that I’m very grateful for. It’s one of those times when it all comes together, which is a miracle in this industry. Usually I can’t do one because I do another one, but here everything went well.

You have sung in so many different styles during your career! How is that for you?

I love to be a chameleon. I like that I don’t feel like I’m stuck in one box. Guess that’s why I do so many things – when I’m not doing theater I work with my band [The Jazz Emperors] and write new music. I don’t like to feel limited in the variety of what I can do vocally and in terms of performance. Things that interest me… I will try any style. I love the challenge and I like to flex my muscles to try to mimic that particular part of my voice.

What helps you switch between the different styles?

I would say that being able to listen to the different tones of these songs is really important. I think knowing the times and eras that he’s from is probably the main thing. Understanding the location of where it is found, research. If it is a show, I will research the time, the place and the different cultural influences it had. And stylistically, I’m going to be coaching in the area and making sure I sing that style.

Alinta Chidzey as Velma, Cast Donovan as Mama Morton and Natalie Bassingthwaighte as Roxie |  Photo by Peter Brew Bevan
Alinta Chidzey as Velma, Cast Donovan as Mama Morton and Natalie Bassingthwaighte as Roxie | Photo by Peter Brew Bevan

Chicago coming to Australia is absolutely huge. Are you looking forward to playing Velma?

It is an iconic piece that I have always wanted to make. the fact that he finally arrived at the right place at the right time in my life is truly a dream. I am ecstatic. It’s definitely a show that was done, but it’s a show where the music is so fantastic. Even though we did the launch the other week, there are so many songs in this show that are so good you almost forget until you hear them again. I can’t wait to see them come back to life, because every time it is done, it will be different because of the people and the attitude to adopt. I want to bring my own style to Velma. It’s gonna be so much fun working with Natalie [Bassingthwaite] and Casey [Donovan], they’re just great people. I think we’re going to have a good time. And the creatives are fantastic… the audition process was more of a workshop than an audition, and I really like it because I feel like I’m growing up learning, I’m not here to prove anything , I’m here to collaborate. I think it’s a great energy to have in a room.

You are currently working on A Little Night Music first, is not it ? What are you waiting for with this?

A Little Night Music, stylistically, is definitely more “legitimate”. I work with Simon, with whom I did my first show. I’ve never worked with Ali McGregor before, and Verity [Hunt-Ballard] with whom I know, but with whom I have not been able to do a show.

Was there a particular role or show that stood out for you?

For me, playing Anita in West Side Story has always been the one I have been very connected to. I think the play itself, the music, the choreography, the book, is so strong. And it still is. It’s such a powerful piece and it’s one of the few musicals where I feel like all the elements came together with the impact it had for the audience, as well as the performers. This is another show for me where I was able to exercise all my skills, dancing, singing and playing at a very high level. This is a tough piece for that reason you have to keep all of your skills at a high level. It is definitely a highlight. But then also A Gentlemen’s Guide [To Love and Murder], I had so much fun with this last year [laughs] I don’t think I laughed so much at the rehearsals at the show. Working with the fantastic Chris Ryan and Mitchel Butel was just amazing. Another show where, for such a short rehearsal period, it fell into place so quickly. the costumes and the set were so amazing. The book is so funny… It’s not a show where you go away remembering the songs, but everyone left laughing and it’s such a gift to give to an audience as well as ‘to myself !

Gareth Keegan and Alinta Chidzey in Showboat. Image by Belinda Strodder

What can we expect from your next Morning Melodies performance?

It’s a combination of things. All the songs I selected are songs from women who have influenced my life. They are all iconic women who made their mark and their music has truly stood the test of time. My husband is the musical director and saxophonist of my band, and he arranges the music and reinvents it in a jazz style. So it’s a bit of a spin on the music we have chosen. They all have a little something in mind! And I threw one of ours [originals] in the mix of divas!

How did it go with your husband?

It has been incredible. We started playing together about 7 years ago. We’re releasing our first album on April 26th, we’re doing an album launch of our own original album. It was great to work together. He understands my world as much as he is a part of it. He is from Holland and I dragged him to the other side of the world to live here! Although I lived there and did Dirty Dancing in Holland about 9 years ago. It has been a great process to work, create, write and perform together.


Alinta performs at the Arts Center Melbourne’s Morning melodies Monday April 15 for 2 shows only (11 a.m. and 1:30 a.m.). For tickets and more information, visit the Melbourne Arts Center website.

Click here for more information and tickets for A little night music.

For more information and tickets for the Chicago visit: Chicagothemusical.com.au

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