Jenni Little and cast in 42nd Street, presented by Music Theatre Company 2015 at the Victorian College of the Arts.

Meet Jenni Little, Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music Theatre) graduate

Jenni Little graduated from the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Music Theatre) in 2015. Since then, she has performed in Follies: In Concert, The 25th Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Kinky Boots. Here, she talks about how the VCA prepared her for a career on the stage.

I knew on the day of the audition at the VCA was the right place for me. The way our course coordinator Margot Fenley worked with actors on the floor that day was thrilling to me. I wanted to learn from her and was excited that someone who came from such a strong, truthful storytelling perspective was the head of a music theatre course. I still find that exciting!

I don’t think any other music theatre program in the country covers such a breadth of learning and still prepares you for working in a commercial theatre environment. I graduated feeling like I had equally strong training in the areas of singing, dancing and acting, and also felt comfortable stepping into a television of film environment.

I loved how immersive the program was. They were long days but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Having the opportunity to immerse myself in my passion for three years, surrounded by a wealth of incredible resources, was a dream come true for me. The emphasis on studio-based training meant that we were always up on our feet learning physically and quickly – and learning from our classmates as much as from our own work.

Jenni Little and Blake Appelqvist in 42nd Street, presented by Music Theatre Company 2015 at the Victorian College of the Arts.
Jenni Little and Blake Appelqvist in 42nd Street, presented by Music Theatre Company 2015 at the Victorian College of the Arts. Photo: Drew Echberg.

It’s a very inspiring location to study in because you feel like you’re very much a part of the creative community before you’ve graduated. The VCA campus is within walking distance of the theatre district, the museum, the gallery and the CBD. You’re right in the middle of it. The on-campus spaces were a haven for practising in between classes, and for someone like me who loves slightly left-of-centre cast recordings and hard-to-find sheet music, the Lenton Parr Library was an absolute mecca.

The Music Theatre students and teachers are an amazingly tight-knit, small and supportive group. I loved being surrounded by a group of like-minded people who shared my passion.

I had the opportunity to learn from so many visiting artists in a masterclass setting while at the VCA. We were lucky enough to work with and learn from American composers, songwriters and vocal technicians, as well as Australian producers, directors, casting directors, actors and music directors. I will never forget getting the opportunity to work with American composer Adam Guettel when he visited in 2013. That was an absolute life-changer for me.

VCA is a massive supporter and facilitator or new musical theatre works and I was lucky enough to be a part of a number of workshops and creative developments. Being a part of a project’s genesis and helping a creative team to realise their vision was an amazing experience to have as an artist while still studying. Taking part in those projects helped unlock a love of facilitating new pieces that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.

Jenni Little and cast in 42nd Street, presented by Music Theatre Company 2015 at the Victorian College of the Arts.
Jenni Little in 42nd Street, presented by Music Theatre Company 2015 at the Victorian College of the Arts. Photo: Drew Echberg.

When I was in second year I was one of five students in my year chosen to take part in the Global Atelier Project in New York City. We spent ten days taking part in masterclasses with industry professionals and seeing as much theatre as we could jam into our itinerary. It was an absolutely mind-blowing and I took so much away from it. I still refer back to my notes from that time – it was an amazing learning experience.

We discovered that all of the people we worked with in the States shared the same techniques and ideologies that we were being taught at the VCA. To know that we were being taught the same things that performers who go on to perform on Broadway are taught was pretty fantastic!

The most valuable thing VCA offers Music Theatre students is a combination of world-class training and the opportunity to work with and learn from directors and performers who are currently working in the industry. Forging positive working relationships with industry professionals before you’ve graduated is invaluable – and at almost every audition I step into, I know someone on the panel from my time at the VCA. It makes life so much easier.

At the VCA, the message to us was: you are an actor, first and foremost, and every creative problem you’ll ever have in rehearsal as a singer or a dancer can be solved through your training as actors. This is always a great comfort to me. When stepping into a professional rehearsal room for the first day where there are often people I’ve admired on stage since I was little, it is a comfort to know that I can just relax and simply do the work I know how to do because of my training.

As told to Sophie Duran.

Read more VCA & MCM Student Stories.

Banner image: Jenni Little in 42nd Street, presented by Music Theatre Company 2015 at the Victorian College of the Arts. Photo: Drew Echberg