WAAPA 30th

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

They're the stars of smash hit musicals across the country ... leading ladies in a class of their own, a club, with connections to a famous friend from Perth ... who's turning thirty. Yep ... the WA Academy of Performing Arts ... "it is almost as famous as the celebrities it's created isn't it? It is some of them have probably trodden on these boards" Director Julie Warn reckons you might even recognise a few of the faces, tv star ... Marcus Graham, Logie legend ... Lisa McCune and of course ... Hollywood heart throb ... Hugh Jackman. "I actually met Hugh when he came over for the boy from Oz and that was really exciting for us" A couple of years ago, Suzie Mathers was a starstruck student ... now, well, she's a star herself. "I have never felt like such a rock star, we finish the show and the whole place goes mad"

WAAPA also opened doors for graduate Lucy Durack ... who's wowing audiences in Wicked, "i think there are lots of ingredients as to why WAAPA is so successful ... i think one of the reasons is it is so far away from the industry" "It really is like planting yourself for three years for an intense training purpose" just like her character Mary Poppins ... it's been a magical journey for Verity Hunt-Ballard. She landed the lead role, alongside veterens Marina Prior and Deb Burn ... that was nothing compared to auditioning for WAAPA. "Tough challenging and i think thats why they have such a full on audition process cause it takes certain people to move 1000's of kilometers away and then deal with a very intense three years"

Julie says "we have 1000's of people applying every year and typically we take fairly small numbers" In the musical theatre course, WAAPA takes just nine boys and nine girls each year. Today's students ... tomorrow's stars, they come from around the country ... and believe it or not ... they reckon WAAPA is so successful ... partly because it's right here in Perth. "You put your life on hold and thats one of the good things about being in perth, your in a little bubble" but with sacrifice comes success ... and WAAPA's graduates are celebrated on stages around the world ...They might be mega stars ... but today they're singing the praises of a little place in perth which makes dreams come true.

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Upcoming events to celebrate WAAPA's 30th Anniversary:

* 'Anything Goes' Cole Porter's musical comedy at the Regal Theatre - 11-19 June

* WAAPA Showcase at The Playhouse - 16 & 17 July

* WAAPA/ECU Open Day - Sunday 25 July, 10am - 3pm

* WAAPA 30X30 - massive free event in and around Perth CBD: 30 x 30-minute performances. Fri 30 July, 12-2pm