The bright lights, footlights and limelight beckon Jessie – New Zealand Herald

Jessie O’Connor is leaving Whanganui to study performing arts in Melbourne. Photo / Paul Brooks

After making her mark on various stages in Whanganui, Jessie O’Connor leaves us for Melbourne.

“I’m going to APO Performing Arts Academy, ” she says. “It’s a musical theatre-based programme. ” She’s doing an one -year course with the option to audition to continue. She says it’s small enough so there’s no room to hide.

Whanganui people will have seen her sing and act as the lead in Whanganui High School’s production of Mamma Mia! at the particular Opera House, as well as Into the Woods at Amdram in which she played The Witch. Both performances received high praise plus attracted attention from community members willing to help her achieve her goal to further her studies in Australia.

A lot associated with that support came from Graeme Prince, proprietor of Riverside Motels where the O’Connor family lived for some months after arriving from Australia. Graeme is the local assistant Rotary governor and he went to see the girl performance in Mamma Mia! after hearing her perform at the motel.

“I took the group of Rotarians along with me plus got Rotary interested. I thought then, this girl is going somewhere, ” he says. “I decided I was going to search around and get [financial] assistance for her, originally through Rotary, but then I started searching elsewhere as well. ”

Because of that, she is getting support from the particular Rotary network and also from other local interested parties. Graeme is also sponsoring the girl through the motel.

“I’ve loved musicals since I was a little kid, ” states Jessie. She was born within New Zealand, moved to Western Australia, then to NSW and, later, back to New Zealand.

In a primary school show in Perth she has been an ant dressed up as Michael Jackson — “I remember coming out upon stage for the first time and all of these people were looking at me and pointing. ”

The girl loved it: the performing and the interest.

“It wasn’t until later when I did my first actual musical, Into the Forest , in Year 7, after I had just arrived in NSW.

“I was the only Year 7 in the whole display and We absolutely loved it. ”

She also plays violin.

“I love drama and I really like music too, playing violin and everything. So every time I had been in a production I’d just go into hyper-crazy mode where I would listen to all the songs and learn almost all the lyrics… it brought out something different in me personally and I wasn’t sure why.

“It was not until I actually had to move from Australia back in order to New Zealand I realised it was something I wanted to try plus do along with my life. ” No matter what, Jessie wanted to give it a go.

“I was lucky to be able to do Mamma Mia! at Whanganui High School. It has been the biggest audience I had ever performed within front associated with, an amazing set, amazing actors to be across from, and then being up there singing Winner Takes It All in front of everyone… ”

That was the feeling she desired to have, as often as possible.

“Okay, game plan: let’s figure out how to do this properly, while furthermore being realistic about the particular whole thing. It’s not an easy path in order to go down plus not everyone is successful, yet I at least want to give it a try. ”

After higher school, Jessie took the gap year, got a job at Brand new Vista Rest Home, took singing lessons and read 60 books.


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“It had been nice in order to feel settled for a year and figure out exactly what I want.

“Now, I’m excited and ready to work.

“I want to thank Whanganui and all the amazing people who have helped myself. ”

Her friends, teachers, mentors plus everyone who knows her are right behind this talented young woman. Graeme Prince is right: Jessie O’Connor is going places.