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Mariah Gonzalez – Class of ’20

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Uncategorized

Mariah Gonzalez is a multi-talented artist based in Sydney, and an alumna of Brent Street, Australia’s renowned performing arts school. She has a rich history in professional work across TV and Musical Theatre from a young age. In early 2022. Mariah took on the role of Diana Morales in A Chorus Line with Darlinghurst Theatre Company, followed by originating the role of Annabelle in The Deb, a production directed and written by Hannah Riley at the Rebel Theatre, ATYP. She then joined the cast of L’Hotel in the immersive show choreographed by Lucas Newland and performed at the Sydney Opera House. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Entertainment Business Management at JMC, Mariah is excited to embrace the responsibilities of covering the lead role of Mimi, ensemble swing, and dance captain in her dream show, RENT.

Mariah! An absolute Brent Street legend. Welcome to Word on the Street. Can you kick us off with a little introduction of yourself, your course and graduating year?

My name is Mariah Gonzalez and I live on Gadigal land. I’m 22 years old and I started dancing at Brent Street when I was 7 years old. I went on to completing my senior years of school at Brent Street Academy to then graduate my Full Time year achieving my Diploma of Musical Theatre.

So – you’ve been a staple in the Brent Street community for many years – and certainly excelled in many styles. What made you decide to go from the Academy to the Musical Theatre Course?

Being a Brent Street baby, I was trained in all areas of performing arts; dancing, singing, and acting. Deciding what to do for my Full Time course was honestly a decision between my (stubborn) self and Lucas. A big part of me wanted to stay comfortable and keep pushing for more dance training but Lucas saw and explained the benefits of learning more about the world of Musical Theatre. Lucas’s guidance is always something I will be grateful for!

Mariah in her 2020 Full Time Graduation Showcase performing “Something Better Than This”

And I guess the rest is history! So – let’s take things back a little bit – A Chorus Line. You’re less than a year out of Full Time and you’re cast in Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s production. A pinch me moment? Tell us everything – how it came to be and your best moments from the season!

Oh, how I cried after finding out that I have booked the role of Diana Morales in A Chorus Line, a Darlinghurst Theatre Company production. It was just as (the first) Covid lockdown had ended, the world of theatre had suffered and jobs were limited. I had a big drive to just keep pushing and thankfully, I did. I did my auditions on Zoom – which was crazy to me. Fortunately I’d been previously taught by Amy Campbell (director) at Brent Street, so I was grateful to have that connection with her when stepping into the audition. I was shocked that for my first ever show I would be working with so many people I had truly looked up to in the industry! I think my favourite moment of doing this show had to be the first audience we had and the standing ovation. It was unreal to me that people in Sydney had also experienced my debut as Diana Morales, a Latina character played by me, representing my Latin Community on the big stage. I was so proud to be on that stage every day. The antics behind the scenes and connecting with my role models was also something I will forever cherish in my heart.

Mariah in Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s production of ‘A Chorus Line’ (image supplied)

Let’s chat a little more about Amy Campbell – a huge figure in the industry and someone you’ve looked up to. How was it working with her?

Amy Campbell became an inspiration for me at 17 years old when I took her open class. I was inspired by the way she would describe movement and how it can be seen and felt different on everyone, and finding freedom in that. During Full Time she was one of my teachers and I was so excited to keep studying how her brain works when it came to choreography and direction. I was very grateful to have her as the Director of my first show and to keep learning from her. Booking A Chorus Line, I was 19 years old and working alongside so many greats of the industry like Angelique Cassimatis…oh my days. Angelique was my idol for all my training at Full Time – every class I took from her I put 120% into. She was and still is my biggest inspiration. It was all a dream come true. I went into every rehearsal as a sponge, ready to soak up as much information as I could from not only Amy Campbell (director) but also Andrew Worboys (musical director), Sally Dashwood (assistant choreographer) and Zara Stanton (assistant musical director).

Let’s fast forward to 2024 – you’re currently in the touring production of RENT as an onstage Swing, Mimi cover AND Dance Captain! How do you go about navigating so much responsibility? 

Before RENT, I had never been a swing and was a bit nervous on the process of it but luckily, I had Luca Dinardo there to guide me as well as my super swing, Sam Harmon. You must have a sharp brain for swinging. Thankfully, due to my training, I can learn and retain choreography quite easily so I find it very fun. I can now say I have mostly stepped into every ensemble role in this production of RENT and I absolutely love the thrill and adrenaline of it. I was very lucky to work alongside Luca by being her dance captain for the show. The way Luca spoke about driving movement and steps with intention was a big eye opener for me on how differently choreography can be taught and how great her teaching and leadership was. She taught me so much about movement in general and leading as Dance Captain for the company and I will forever be so grateful for that.

Mariah pictured with Luca Dinardio at RENT’s Naarm opening night (image supplied)

What’s the secret to juggling so many hats in a show? Any tips to share?

With all of these roles, I only allow myself to let one hat/job title sit on my head at a time. I think it can be quite easy to stack on all of the hats and then crumble because it seems too overwhelming. I can’t lie, It is hard some days, but the love and dedication for the show always pushes me through. I also always try to lead with kindness. At the end of the day, you won’t grow as a person or gain anything in your career if you’re not connected with your people.

I’m sure you’ve heard many a quote or learnt many a lesson from your Brent Street teachers and mentors over the years. Can you tell us about one moment where you learnt a huge lesson (and who taught you that), or perhaps one memory you’ll never forget?

A moment I will always remember is when I was 16, in Matt Lee’s class at Brent Street. At the start of class, Matt went around and asked everyone what their goals were. I said, “I want to be a backup dancer”. Matt’s response was, “Okay…and what else?”. I was young and shocked that my answer wasn’t a good enough – yet I had never thought to expand my horizons to bigger and greater pathways in the industry. He didn’t tell me what the answer should have been – which I love also – he just told me that I “shouldn’t limit myself” and to “dream bigger”. I still think about this every day. Each day is a stepping stone to where I want to be in this industry and to keep growing as a creative.

Thanks for jumping on with me today Mariah – we miss you and having you around the studio! I’d love for you to leave us with one piece of advice for students who are about to finish up their Full Time training. What’s one thing you wish someone told you as you were transitioning into the big wide industry?

My one piece of advice is to always find a drive; something within yourself, pushing you forward to where you want to be. How do you find this drive? If you’re feeling you’ve lost your spark, try something new. Study something new, create and direct your own videos, learn about stage managing and the process of how shows are created, design and make clothes, write songs… do something that will still enhance your creative brain and will help you to grow. Plus, there’s more to booking work than simply being the most talented person who can sing and dance amazingly, and having more skills under your belt will always work in your favour!

  @mariahgonzalez__

Auditions are currently open for Brent Street’s 2025 Musical Theatre Course intake.
Register your interest and get a copy of the Prospectus at www.brentstreet.com.au/audition

Author: Jake Percey  // Marketing & CRM Manager