If you look up the word “versatile” in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Alinta Chidzey.
During her years as a performer, she appeared in an incredibly wide range of roles both on stage and screen, as well as in various concerts. Stage one credits include the Australasian Tour of Mama Mia!Demeter in Catsand the Dutch season of Dirty dance.
She became a staple of The Production Company, starring in many 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 Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder), for which she won the Green Room Award for Best Female Artist in a Supporting Role.
Alinta is arguably best known for her sassy portrayal of Anita in West Side Storya performance for which she won the Australian Dance Award for Most Outstanding Performance, and was nominated for a Helpmann, a Green Room Award and a Sydney Theater Award.
Newly announced as Australian Velma Kelly, Alinta has quite a bit before heading to the cellblock. In July, she will be on 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 will sing at Arts Center Melbourne’s Morning Melodies next week. Accompanied by her band, Alinta will perform a tribute to the jazz divas.
How do you feel about 2019 so far?
It’s a massive year. It’s amazing, it’s very comprehensive with a lot of creative stuff that I’m very grateful for. It’s one of those moments where everything lines up, which is a miracle in this industry. Usually I can’t do one because I’m doing another, but here everything went well.
You’ve sung in so many different styles throughout your career! How’s that for you?
I love being a chameleon. I like not feeling like I’m stuck in one box. I 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 feeling limited in the diversity of what I can do vocally and in terms of performance. The things that I do… I’ll just try any style. I like the challenge of it, and I like flexing my muscles to try and mimic that particular part of my voice.
What helps you switch between different styles?
I would say that being able to listen to the different tones of these songs is really important. I think knowing the time and the eras it comes from is probably the main thing. Understanding the location of where it is, research. If it’s a show, I’ll research the time, place and the different cultural influences it has had. And stylistically, I’m going to coach in the area and make sure I sing in that style.
Chicago coming to Australia is absolutely huge. Are you excited to play Velma?
It’s an iconic piece that I’ve always wanted to do. the fact that it finally happened in the right place and at the right time of my life is truly a dream. I am delighted. It’s definitely a show that’s been 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 on this show that are so good you almost forget them until you hear them again. I can’t wait to see them come back to life, because each time it’s done, it’s going to be different because of the people and how they take it. I want to bring my own flair to Velma. It’s going to be so much fun working with Natalie [Bassingthwaite] and Casey [Donovan], they are just great people. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun. And the creatives are fantastic… the audition process was more of a workshop than an audition, and I really care about it because I feel like I’m growing as I learn, I’m not here to prove anything , I am here to collaborate . I think that’s a great energy to have in a room.
You are actually working on A little night music first, is not it ? What are you waiting for with that?
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] whom I know, but with whom I could not do a show.
Was there a particular role or show that stood out to you?
For me, playing Anita in West Side Story has always been the one with whom I have been very connected. I think the piece itself, the music, the choreography, the book, they’re 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 its impact on the audience, as well as the performers. This is another show for me where I was able to practice all my skills, with dancing, singing and acting at a very high level. It’s a difficult piece for that reason you have to keep all your skills at a high level. It’s 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’ve laughed so much at rehearsals at the show. Working with the fantastic Chris Ryan and Mitchel Butel was simply outstanding. Another show where, for such a short rehearsal period, it was set up so quickly. the costumes and the set were so amazing. The book is so funny… It’s not a show where you walk away remembering the songs, but everyone walks away laughing and it’s such a gift to give to an audience too although to myself!
What can we expect from your next Morning Melodies performance?
It’s a combination of things. All the songs I have selected are songs by women who have influenced my life. They are all iconic women who have 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 rotation on the music we’ve chosen. They all have a little something extra! And I threw one of ours [originals] in the diva mix!
How’s it going with your husband?
It was amazing. We started playing together about 7 years ago. We’re releasing our debut 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 part of it. He is from Holland and I dragged him halfway around the world to live here! Although I lived there and did Dirty Dancing in Holland about 9 years ago. It’s been a great process of working, creating, writing and playing together.
Alinta performs at the Arts Center Melbourne morning melodies Monday, April 15 for 2 performances only (11 a.m. and 1:30 a.m.). For tickets and more information, visit the Arts Center Melbourne website.
Click here for more information and tickets to A little night music.
For more information and tickets for the Chicago visit: chicagothemusical.com.au