Five Questions With . . .

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Australian professional singer and actor Lana Nesnas, who will perform in the cabaret dinner Puttin’ on the Ritz in Timaru.

Q What does your job involve?
As a performer, I am constantly learning new material for the various events my bands are booked to sing at, from awards nights to weddings and themed parties. As band leader and company director, I often collaborate with others to create new shows/bands/concepts, and market these to venues and agencies. The bulk of my time is spent in the usual business administration – getting jobs, invoicing and paying my artists.

Q How did you get into this line of work?
I started performing in school and amateur musicals from the age of 12, and found I loved all aspects of theatre, also working in lighting, sound and stage/production management. I graduated from Waapa (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts) in 2003 with a BA in music theatre and after a few years in professional musicals, discovered jazz and started my own trio. I’ve been working in bands ever since, and have now formed my own company to connect people and events with the great musicians I have worked with over the years.

Q What are some of the highlights of your career?
Watching children in Sydney-Melbourne “connect” to our amazing cast and relate to the anti-bullying message in Connected – The Musical. Understudying the amazing April Neho in South Pacific (my first professional musical) at the Theatre Royal in Sydney. Touring in the world premiere Australia-New Zealand of Dirty Dancing The Musical, understudying the lead singer and Baby’s sister Lisa. Helping produce, then performing in the world premiere of new Australian musical ATOMIC (NIDA Playhouse).

Q What are some of the challenges you face in the industry and how have you overcome them?
As a performer, it took many years to learn how to overcome “audition nerves”. Like many creatives, anxiety is an ongoing battle. I try to remain fully present in the moment, with no expectation or pressure to second-guess yourself based on what you “should” be doing. If I can walk out of an audition happy that I did the best I could do in that moment, regardless of what happened, and understand the rest is out of my hands, I find I can stop tearing myself down with worry and anxiety. Not easy, but doable!

Q What do you enjoy about performing in smaller centres such as Timaru?
Intimate spaces and smaller centres provide the opportunity to really connect with people on a personal level. While huge stages and equally huge houses have their own thrills, the audience are still out in the dark, in a row of seats, “watching” from the outside. Intimate spaces are much more immersive. Making eye contact (rather than performing to “the fourth wall”) and interacting directly with people has its own challenges and advantages – for a performer it can be confronting, but exhilarating. Mainly, however, I love being able to transport people out of their lives and into a new environment, story, or era – and smaller spaces give the audience that wonderful opportunity to really “join us” in our imagined world!