Melissa Western - singer, actor, writer

Melissa Western – singer, actor, writer

Brisbane-based singer-actor-writer Melissa Abigail Western was born in Manchester, England … the only daughter of a jazz-singing English father and an award-winning Sri Lankan model mother. By turns sassy, soulful, smart and sweet, Melissa straddles the worlds of jazz, cabaret and theatre. She performs internationally, performing and producing new stage works and singing with a variety of ensembles. Her passion is taking to the stage in front of a live audience, seamlessly weaving song, movement and story into an experience they will want to share and cherish. Over the past fifteen years she has performed to audience and critical acclaim locally in Brisbane, nationally throughout Australia and internationally in the UK and France. Her self-penned one-woman musical Ella, Marilyn, Marlene and Me was an official sell-out two consecutive years at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, garnering five star reviews from ThreeWeeks “absolutely brilliant… enthralling vocal talents wowed the audience” and four stars from The Scotsman “Melissa Western is on fire… it’s mainly about the eyes, the face and the voice.” In 2013, Melissa’s new original comedy-cabaret entitled Sweet, Sour and Saucy received critical and audience acclaim, Western being touted as a “force of nature” (Broadway Baby, 5 stars). The show went on to be nominated for three Matilda Awards in 2015: Best Musical/Cabaret, Best Female Actor in a Leading Role and Best Set Design as well as Western being named Favourite Leading Female Performance in the 2015 Del Arte Charts. Sweet, Sour & Saucy has toured Queensland, Western Australia and the UK.

She has appeared twice with the iconic Women in Voice (QPAC 2008, Qld tour 2012), and has created countless cabarets including Push It! Songs about getting pregnant, giving birth and having kids, Oh Lady Be Good: A tribute to the great chanteuses of the 20th century. Other festival and venue highlights include Australia Day Festival Southbank, Qld Premier’s Heroes Ceremony, official Australia Day ceremony Southbank, performing sold out seasons of Oh, Lady Be Good at The Jazz Bar in Edinburgh and Blind Tiger, London, critical acclaim and official “Sold Out” status for her show Baby Loves Singing, Dancing and YOU! at the Edinburgh Festival, being hand-picked as the feature performer for former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Australia Day reception, touring Queensland with former Premier Anna Bligh for her Christmas Concerts (2009, 2010 and 2011), UK tour (Lincolnshire/Nottingham shire), Lush Life and Ella, Marilyn, Marlene and Me – Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Jazz Bar – Edinburgh, Women in Voice – QPAC, The Vault – Edinburgh Fringe Festival, L’église – Avaux (France), Powerhouse Theatre – Brisbane Cabaret Festival, Brisbane Jazz Club, Speigeltent – Qld Music Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, Valley Jazz Festival, Mackay Entertainment Centre, Adelaide Fringe Festival, The Tivoli, Gold Coast Jazz and Blues Festival, The Basement – Gold Coast Arts Centre, La Boite Theatre, Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre.

She has recorded her own original CD Stepping Stone as well as releasing a live jazz CD, Live & Intimate and featuring on High Tide vol II (Brisbane Jazz Club), Tailspin: Brisbane Big Band tribute to Paul Gibens and Singin’ and Swingin’ with her Dad, Alan Western.

Melissa is a Churchill Fellow, was Valedictorian of her graduating Bachelor of Arts at UQ, holds a University Medal from the University of Queensland, first class Honours degree and was awarded her Masters of Philosophy in the field of Drama. In 2014 she was awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to study improvised musical theatre in the UK. She has trained intensively in musical theatre at RADA (London) and NIDA, physical theatre with Zen Zen Zo, and has trained in dance for over fifteen years including: classes with Luis Pinto (Megajam), Jasmine Meakin (Hip-hop, Sexy Cool), Simone Pope (flamenco studio) and with teachers at the Broadway Dance Centre (New York).
From 2002-2009 Melissa was heavily involved with the Brisbane Jazz Club serving as the club’s youngest ever President. Under her stewardship the club thrived and now maintains its position as one of Australia’s premiere live jazz venues.

Melissa lives in Brisbane with her husband and performance partner Tnee and their two children Ella Abigail and Sasha Rose. They regularly tour together around Australia and to the UK.

 

THEATRE / MUSICALS
Barbara & Barry’s Sweet, Sour and Saucy National Australian and UK touring. Over 50 venues including Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts.

2013-2017

Subtext: Love Between the Lines Anywhere Theatre Festival

2015

Avenue Q Arts Theatre (Brisbane)

2014

Ella, Marilyn, Marlene and Me Edinburgh Fringe Festival and UK NRTS tour

2007-2009

Wicked Bodies La Boite Theatre/ Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre

2004

The Madness of Sweeney Mog Roith (Eugene Gilfedder) – Woodford Folk Festival

2003

Taliesan Mog Roith (Eugene Gilfedder) – Woodford Folk Festival

2002

Ultimate Mongrel Cement Box Theatre &
La Boite Newboards Festival

2001
1999

Boneless Chicken Brecht Cracka Theatre Troupe (tours of south-east Qld)

1999 – 2001

Inheritance Cracka Theatre Troupe (Brisbane Season)

2000

Schoolies Cracka Theatre Troupe (tours of south-east Qld)

1998

An Entirely New Sensation Cracka Theatre Troupe (tours of south-east Qld)

1998

 

MUSIC & CABARET
A Night in Paris Gold Coast Jazz & Blues Club (Gold Coast Arts Centre)

2013 & 2014

Minx Moxie Woodford Folk Festival

2013

Push It! Brisbane Cabaret Festival & Stockholme Syndrome

2012

Women in Voice 18 (2012 tour) Queensland Regional Tour

2012

Oh, Lady Be Good Edinburgh Fringe Festival & UK NRTS tour

2011-2012

Songs from the Heart Queensland State Library (Tea and Music)

2011

Ella meets Marilyn Butterfly Club (Melbourne) and Brisbane Jazz Club

2010

Close to You Brisbane Cabaret Festival  (Judith Wright Centre)

2010

Of War and Love Queensland State Library (Tea and Music)

2010

The A-Z of Cabaret Brisbane Cabaret Festival  (Queensland tour)

2009

Lush Life Edinburgh Fringe Festival and UK NRTS tour

2008

Women in Voice 17 Playhouse Theatre, QPAC

2008

Melissa and the Cunning Accompanist Adelaide Fringe Festival; Sydney; Melbourne

2008

Mischievous Minx Brisbane Cabaret Festival (Powerhouse Theatre)

2006

 

 

RECORDINGS
        Tailspin: tribute to Paul Gibens (feature artist) Brisbane Big Band

2013

        High Tide vol II (feature artist) Brisbane Jazz Club

2012

        Paris (feature artist) Gerard Civet (documentary)

2011

        Stepping Stone (original artist) 6-track CD funded by Arts Qld

2010

        Live & Intimate (jazz artist) 10-track live jazz CD

2008

 

CHILDREN’S MUSIC / MUSICAL THEATRE
Lissa & Nee Nee’s Adventure Time Powerkids Festival (Brisbane Powerhouse)

2014

Lissa & Nee Nee: Christmas is a Feeling Brisbane City Councillors Community Centre tour

2013

Lissa & Nee Nee’s Riverside Adventure Powerkids Festival (Brisbane Powerhouse) & Edinburgh Festival Fringe & Art with Altitude Festival & Southbank Australia Day Festival

2013-2014

Lissa & Nee Nee: Baby Loves Music & Movement QPAC Out of the Box Festival

2012

Baby Loves Singing, Dancing & You Edinburgh Fringe Festival

2011

The Dinosaur Show Tell Tales Entertainment (Sydney-Brisbane-Melbourne)

2004-2009

Captain Flash & the Fantastic Flying Machine Tell Tales Entertainment (Sydney-Brisbane-Melbourne)

2005-2006

Santa of the Never Never Tell Tales Entertainment (Sydney-Brisbane-Melbourne)

2004-2006

 

TRAINING / AWARDS
Melissa is a Churchill Fellow, was Valedictorian of her graduating Bachelor of Arts at UQ, holds a University Medal from the University of Queensland, first class Honours degree and was awarded her Masters of Philosophy in the field of Drama. She has trained intensively in musical theatre at RADA (London) and NIDA, physical theatre with Zen Zen Zo, and has trained in dance for over fifteen years including: classes with Luis Pinto (Megajam), Jasmine Meakin (Hip-hop, Sexy Cool), Simone Pope (flamenco) and with teachers at the Broadway Dance Centre (New York).  In 2012 she completed acting masterclasses at La Boite and IAHQ.
TEACHING
Presentation Skills, Stagecraft  & Self Directed Studies JMI – Jazz Music Institute

2011-2014

Masterclass facilitator – promotion & presentation JUMP |National Mentoring Program for Young and Emerging Artists (Supported by the Australia Council of Australia, managed nationally by YAQ)

2011

Progam mentor Talkin Jazz Youth Engagement Program

2006-2011

Guest mentor – promotion & presentation Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre

1998-2004

Drama tutor University of Queensland, EMSAH (English, Media Studies and Social History), Arts Faculty

1999-2002

Secondary school workshop teacher Cracka Theatre Troupe

1998-2002

ACADEMIC
   
M.Phil. Masters of Philosophy (Drama) University of Queensland

published 2006

Honours (1st Class) Drama University of Queensland

1998

Bachelor of Arts  (Double Major in Drama) University of Queensland

1997

AWARDS
University Medal University of Queensland

1999

Alrene Sykes Memorial Prize University of Queensland

1998

Valedictorian of Arts University of Queensland

1997

POSITIONS
Inaugural Artistic Director Brisbane Jazz Club

2008

President Brisbane Jazz Club

2004- 2007

Vice President Brisbane Jazz Club

2002- 2004

Board Member Zen Zen Zo

Current

ARTS MANAGEMENT / PRODUCING
   
Curator / Department Head – Visual Arts Woodford Folk Festival

2011-2014

Producer Saviours of the Lost Arts: Craft workshop series and Craft Fair: Brisbane City Council

2010-2011

Manager and Key Mentor Talkin’ Jazz Youth Program Brisbane City Council / Brisbane Jazz Club

2006-2011

Coordinator / Consultant / Performer The Queensland Premier’s Christmas Concerts
(The Hon Anna Bligh)

2009 and 2010

Creative Director Tell Tales Entertainment Qld  (children’s theatre)

2006-2009

Senior Program Manager VIII World Shakespeare Congress (UQ)

2005-2007

Manager ANZSA Conference (Australia New Zealand Shakespeare Association). 

1998

FUNDING
APA scholarship (1998), Creative Sparks Development Grant (2006), Career Development Grant (Arts Qld 2007), Music Development Grant (Arts Qld 2009).