This year’s recipient of the Rob Guest Endowment Award was announced last night at the Gala Concert - congratulations Daniel Assetta and all of the finalists for outstanding performances!

The Rob Guest Endowment Award continues the work of its namesake’s encouragement of Australia’s young musical theatre talent by providing both support and encouragement in their careers. The Gala Concert evening continues to be one of my favourite evenings on the theatre calendar, and tonight’s admiration and celebration of this year’s six finalists hard work proved just what amazing talent we have. It’s a unique and irreplaceable evening, and recipient Daniel Assetta really nailed it’s purpose in his acceptance speech saying that it gives young performances the “courage to stand up here and deliver what they’re all about”.

The concert performances from each of the finalists were as follows:

Daniel Assetta (Recipent of the 2015 Rob Guest Endowment Award) “Goodbye” from Catch Me If You Can “Memphis Lives in Me” from Memphis

Robert McDougall (Recipient of the 2015 Melbourne’s East End Theatre District Artist Development Award) “New Words” from In The Beginning “Epiphany” from Sweeney Todd

Blake Appelqvist “I’ve Been” from Next To Normal “What Do I Need With Love” from Thoroughly Modern Millie

Georgina Hobson “If I Loved You” from Carousel “Someone Like You” from Jekyll & Hyde

Hilary Cole “I Remember” from Evening Primrose “If You Hadn’t But You Did” from Two On The Aisle

Ashleigh Rubenach “A Wonderful Guy” from South Pacific “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” from Phantom of the Opera

The six also opened the concert together performing “Magic To Do” from Pippin.

Alongside the finalists' 12 performances are showcases of some of Australia’s current offerings, and boy do we have some fantastic productions with amazing casts happening right now! We were treated to songs from the casts of Matilda The Musical and Cats, an exciting sneak peek of the upcoming Ghost The Musical with Rob Mills and Jemma Rix, a captivating performance of "Why God Why?" From Miss Saigon performed by last year’s recipient Joshua Robson, a powerful “Til I Hear You Sing” from Mark Vincent, a musical treat in “My Man” by the incomparable Caroline O’Connor, and finally a moving duet with Lucy Durack and a recorded Rob Guest of “Tale As Old As Time” from Beauty and the Beast.

I think what really makes the Rob Guest Endowment Gala Concert evening so special is the happy supportive vibe from what everyone keeps referring to as the “theatre family”. Everyone is there to watch some truly talented performances and give their support to these young up and coming stars, the cheers are deafening and there is a genuine feeling of excitement that spreads throughout the audience. It's fantastic to be a part of, cheering and giggling with the hosts and giving us all the feeling, as Daniel himself said, that we “couldn’t be more happier”.

Congratulations once again to Daniel and all of the finalists!