About

Sassy, soulful, smart and sweet, Melissa straddles the worlds of jazz, cabaret and theatre, performing internationally, producing new stage works and singing in a variety of ensembles.

Over the past twenty years she has delivered critically acclaimed performances to audiences 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 for 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.

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.

Melissa has appeared with the iconic Women in Voice (QPAC 2008, Qld tour 2012, JWCoCA 2017), 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.

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 two children Ella Abigail and Sasha Rose.

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

2013-2017

Subtext: Love Between the LinesAnywhere Theatre Festival

2015

Avenue QArts Theatre (Brisbane)

2014

Ella, Marilyn, Marlene and MeEdinburgh Fringe Festival and UK NRTS tour

2007-2009

Wicked BodiesLa Boite Theatre/ Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre

2004

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

2003

TaliesanMog Roith (Eugene Gilfedder) – Woodford Folk Festival

2002

Ultimate MongrelCement Box Theatre &
La Boite Newboards Festival

2001
1999

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

1999 – 2001

InheritanceCracka Theatre Troupe (Brisbane Season)

2000

SchooliesCracka Theatre Troupe (tours of south-east Qld)

1998

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

1998

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

2013 & 2014

Minx MoxieWoodford Folk Festival

2013

Push It!Brisbane Cabaret Festival & Stockholme Syndrome

2012

Women in Voice 18 (2012 tour)Queensland Regional Tour

2012

Oh, Lady Be GoodEdinburgh Fringe Festival & UK NRTS tour

2011-2012

Songs from the HeartQueensland State Library (Tea and Music)

2011

Ella meets MarilynButterfly Club (Melbourne) and Brisbane Jazz Club

2010

Close to YouBrisbane Cabaret Festival  (Judith Wright Centre)

2010

Of War and LoveQueensland State Library (Tea and Music)

2010

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

2009

Lush LifeEdinburgh Fringe Festival and UK NRTS tour

2008

Women in Voice 17Playhouse Theatre, QPAC

2008

Melissa and the Cunning AccompanistAdelaide Fringe Festival; Sydney; Melbourne

2008

Mischievous MinxBrisbane 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 TimePowerkids Festival (Brisbane Powerhouse)

2014

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

2013

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

2013-2014

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

2012

Baby Loves Singing, Dancing & YouEdinburgh Fringe Festival

2011

The Dinosaur ShowTell Tales Entertainment (Sydney-Brisbane-Melbourne)

2004-2009

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

2005-2006

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

2004-2006

Curator / Department Head – Visual Arts
TEACHING
Presentation Skills, Stagecraft  & Self Directed StudiesJMI – Jazz Music Institute

2011-2014

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

2011

Progam mentorTalkin Jazz Youth Engagement Program

2006-2011

Guest mentor – promotion & presentationZen Zen Zo Physical Theatre

1998-2004

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

1999-2002

Secondary school workshop teacherCracka Theatre Troupe

1998-2002

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

published 2006

Honours (1st Class) DramaUniversity of Queensland

1998

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

1997

AWARDS
University MedalUniversity of Queensland

1999

Alrene Sykes Memorial PrizeUniversity of Queensland

1998

Valedictorian of ArtsUniversity of Queensland

1997

POSITIONS
Inaugural Artistic DirectorBrisbane Jazz Club

2008

PresidentBrisbane Jazz Club

2004- 2007

Vice PresidentBrisbane Jazz Club

2002- 2004

Board MemberZen Zen Zo

Current

ARTS MANAGEMENT / PRODUCING
Woodford Folk Festival

2011-2014

ProducerSaviours 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 / PerformerThe Queensland Premier’s Christmas Concerts
(The Hon Anna Bligh)

2009 and 2010

Creative DirectorTell Tales Entertainment Qld  (children’s theatre)

2006-2009

Senior Program ManagerVIII World Shakespeare Congress (UQ)

2005-2007

ManagerANZSA 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).

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