Anthony Bingham is the director of choral studies at Mentone Grammar. He worked with year 12 student Kristi Lenton in the recent school production of Les Miserables, in which she played the lead role of Cosette. They share a passion for music and singing, and Kristi is keen to have a career in musical theatre.
Kristi says …
I grew up on the outskirts of London, so I’ve always been in that musical theatre scene with the West End so close. I started singing at a young age – I was nine when I started getting lessons, and my sister was a singer, too.
I’ve been in Australia for two years – my family moved here for a change in lifestyle.
I first saw Les Miserables in Melbourne in 2014. I also knew the show because my mum was really into it. When it came to school, I really wanted to audition for it. The audition process at Mentone Grammar is really intense. The waiting period between the audition callback and the cast list being announced was really nerve-wracking. I was just waiting for that email to come through for ages.
I played Cosette in Les Miserables this year and I was also in the school production last year. Balancing my work and performing wasn’t too bad. Being prepared and knowing all the notes and not having to rush it last minute helped a lot.
Performing is actually a nice release from all the stress of school; you can just forget it all while you’re on stage, so that was really nice.
I learned a lot from Mr Bingham because he knows so much about music. In Les Mis, he taught me the performing side of things, so it’s more fit for stage and for performing.
Anthony says …
I’ve always been around music. One of my grandparents was an operatic tenor, so I got an exposure to music from a very young age.
When I finished school, I ended up at the Victorian College of the Arts studying to be an opera singer and classical vocalist. I also studied conducting and orchestration while I was there. I ended up teaching purely by accident. I filled in for a friend who was an accompanist with the National Children’s Choir of Australia and I just fell in love with it. That was three or so years after graduating from the college of the arts and I ended up going back to school to get a dip ed. I’ve been teaching ever since.
I was the co-musical director and conductor for Les Miserables. Kristi has private lessons with another teacher and would prepare a lot of the show’s pieces in those lessons. In our sessions she would do a bit of extra coaching, more looking at the tempo, characterisation, sound and developing the artistic point of view.
Kristi is one of the loveliest kids I’ve met. She was very prepared, professional and enthusiastic, very much a pleasure to work with.
Students like Kristi have taught me that students can push each other in a really nice way. They work really well together and the year 12s this year have been a really good example of that.
Mentone Grammar \ 63 Venice Street, Mentone● 9584 4211 ●mentonegrammar.net