March 9, 2016
By Name and By Nature
By name and by nature, Melody Beck is in perfect harmony and from New York to Noosa, she’s hitting all the right notes. Profile catches up with Melody to find out more about her competition-winning show, ‘UNSEEN: A Tribute to Marni Nixon’.
As she prepares to wow audiences with her self-penned tribute show to ‘the voice of Hollywood’ Marni Nixon at the Noosa Long Weekend Festival 2015, Melody Beck reflects on her 2014 appearance at the festival.
“Coming to Noosa (in 2014) was a highlight, I came straight from New York to Noosa and it was a great two weeks,” she enthuses.
While cabaret and tributes work in harmony, it’s not often the modern day performer has the opportunity to meet the legend their show is based on – while in New York in 2014, Melody met now 86-year-old Marni Nixon while performing a double billed act at the Laurie Beechman Theatre.
“I got to meet her and do my show for her in New York when I was there and she loved it. She said I was very audacious but she admired that and would love to help me in any way she can with the show. We’ve been in touch, I’m going back to New York and hope to see each other then.
“After meeting Marni I felt even more inspired, not just with cabaret but writing and singing and performing, she just really pushed that into me even more,” Melody beams.
The 25-year-old brings the glam ‘60s era of Hollywood to life in classical musical theatre style as Marni Nixon; American soprano and ‘ghost voice’ for featured actresses, such as the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, in movie musicals.
“I love Marina Prior, people on Broadway like Audrey McDonald, of course Marni Nixon, she’s done so much and is so versatile. The classics as well, Audrey Hepburn, Julie Andrews, and Marilyn – who doesn’t love Marilyn!” she says.
After meeting Marni I felt even more inspired, not just with cabaret but writing and singing and performing, she just really pushed that into me even more,”
The bright lights of NYC are part of an impressive career trajectory that began as a passion for singing and performing from an early age, and involvement in musical performance and theatre, in classical, contemporary and music theatre idioms.
“It’s always been in my family, I grew up singing, my mum’s a singing teacher, my parents met in theatre, I’m one of five kids and we all sing in some way or are musical in some way,” Melody says.
“My mum maintains I started singing before I could talk!”
Melody trained at the University of New South Wales in Music and Theatre Performance, then started auditioning for and writing shows – with her first show ‘UNSEEN: A Tribute to Marni Nixon’ taking out the Your Theatrics International Cabaret Contest 2014.
Building on the early success of the show, Melody went to New York for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and toured around Australia to various cabaret festivals in Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart, Brisbane and of course, Noosa.
“It was wonderful, I walked out on that stage and it was a beautiful venue and everyone was so warm and welcoming, and within the first two minutes they were with me on the journey which is what a performer wants, it was so wonderful, everyone has been so kind and it’s been so well received,” she smiles.
“Cabaret is one of those art forms where it can be anything … it’s undefinable.
“I think it’s having that connection with the audience and making people feel something, that is the most wonderful thing because then that fills you up with joy as well. It’s that connection, I love that, and telling stories.”
Currently living in Sydney’s north-west and working as a singing teacher to complement her shows (and playing clarinet and piano), Melody shares she is writing another stage show with her partner, musician and arranger Bernard Lagana on the lives of Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth.
“They are an incredible couple who are English jazz legends and this woman has a four-octave range and Johnny is a wonderful saxophone player and we happen to have those kind of qualities as well,” she says.
And of course, aiming to bring Marni Nixon back to Noosa in 2016.
“The Long Weekend Festival is a wonderful vehicle to connect with other artists, we all come here with our different shows, just seeing the passion and talent of the other performers is brilliant.
“And just being in this community, I absolutely love Noosa, everyone is so warm and welcoming and love the arts and performance.”