Australian Theatre Festival NYC To Honor Caroline O'Connor And Producer Neil Gooding At 2023 Gala

The Gala will take place on Sunday September 10, 2023, and is supported by The Australian Consulate-General New York.

By: Sep. 06, 2023
Australian Theatre Festival NYC To Honor Caroline O'Connor And Producer Neil Gooding At 2023 Gala
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Co-Artistic Directors & Executive Producers Mark Barford, Connor Delves & Jillian Geurts have revealed the full lineup for The Australian Theatre Festival NYC 2023 Fundraising Gala.

To be held at The Players NYC, a prestigious theatrical club on Gramercy Park, the Gala will take place on Sunday September 10, 2023, and is supported by The Australian Consulate-General New York.

The Gala will honor Broadway, West-End & Australian theatre icon Caroline O'Connor and Producer Neil Gooding, whilst celebrating the work ATF does in showcasing Australian stories & artists in NYC. The evening will feature performances from Caroline O'Connor, Mi-kaisha, Adam Rennie, Jennifer Reed, Isaac Hayward and Daniel Edmonds. The Gala will be hosted by Kathleen Simmonds & America Josh will join as Auctioneer!

Tickets & Tables are still available for purchase at

Now in its fourth year, the festival celebrates Australian stories & artists in New York City.

The Gala will honor 2 Australians who have contributed to the artistic and expat community here in New York and will feature performances by NY-based Australian artists. It will be an evening to celebrate Australian achievements in the U.S and contribute to both building community and furthering the bonds between our two countries. All funds raised from the Gala will go directly to supporting Australian artists in the 2023 Australian Theatre Festival NYC.

The 2023 Gala is made possible thanks to the following sponsors:

Gala Sponsor - The Australian Consulate-General New York

Co-Chair - Madison Square Garden Entertainment

Wine Sponsors - Xanadu Wines, Yering Station, Unico Zelo

Beer Sponsor - The Pony Bar

Spiked Coconut Water Sponsor - SUNBOY

Auction Sponsors - Moulin Rouge The Musical, Global Creatures, Six The Musical, The New York Pops, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, The New York Knicks & Matt Davies Photography.

See below for more on this year's honorees and performers.

Caroline O'Connor has the kind of career most performers dream of. From Australia to the theatres of New York's Broadway and London's West End, and the world's preeminent concert stages, she remains one of the most respected, admired and sought after triple threats internationally.

In 2020 she was awarded an AM (Order of Australia) for her extraordinary service to Theatre. Caroline began her professional career as a ballet dancer with the Australian Opera after studying at the esteemed Royal Ballet School in London. In Australia, Caroline's credits are firmly stamped in theatrical history. In addition to the recognition she received for her roles as Velma Kelly in Chicago (Mo Award, Green Room Award, Australian Dance Award), Anita in West Side Story (Mo Award, Green Room Award) and Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, Caroline also garnered accolades for her peerless interpreting of Edith Piaf in Piaf (Helpmann Award, Green Room Award), Judy Garland in the world premiere of End of the Rainbow (Helpmann Award, Sydney Stage Award) and Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (Helpmann Award). She played Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (State Theatre, Melbourne) and created the roles of Polly/ Mary Douvan in Dream Lover. She starred in MTC's production of Kiss Of The Spiderwoman and Rose in Gypsy (State Theatre, Melbourne) and Dolly Parton's 9 to 5. Bombshells was commissioned by Simon Phillips (Melbourne Theatre Company) and written for Caroline by award winning playwright, Joanna Murray-Smith. It played in Australia before touring to sell-out performances at the Edinburgh Festival (Fringe First Award), in America and Canada and the Arts Theatre in London (Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play) and was filmed for the ABC. Renowned Australian playwright David Williamson penned the play Scarlett O'Hara at the Crimson Parrot for Caroline.

Caroline came to world attention as tango dancing Nini Legs in the Air in Baz Luhrmann's film Moulin Rouge. She played Ethel Merman in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely, starred in the Australian film Surviving Georgia and as Sheila Cruz in the ABC's Carlotta.

On Broadway: Velma Kelly in Chicago at the Schubert and Ambassador Theatres. She originated the role of (Miss) Shields in A Christmas Story: The Musical at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre and then Madison Square Garden. She performed the musical's showstopper "You'll Shoot Your Eye Out", at The 67th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall. Caroline created the role of Lily Malevsky-Malevitch in the world premiere of Anastasia the Musical at the Broadhurst Theatre (Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Award Nominee)

US credits include : Sarah Jane Moore in Assassins (Milwaukee Rep), Phyllis in Follies (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), Bombshells (Milwaukee Rep), The Hatpin (NYMF) and her solo concert The Girl from Oz at New York's landmark jazz club, Birdland.

West End: Mabel Normand in Jerry Herman's Mack and Mabel (Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical), Street Scene and On the Town for the English National Opera. Romance Romance, Life of the Party, Budgie, Matador, Talent, Hot Stuff, Me and My Girl and Cabaret. Other UK theatre credits include Gypsy, Chicago, West Side Story, Hold Tight it's 60s Night, Showboat, Baby, Salt of the Earth, Damn Yankees, A Chorus Line, Into The Woods and The Rink , Southwark Playhouse (Best Actress, Off West End Awards)

Caroline became the "toast of Paris" in La Monde when she played Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd at the Chatelet Theatre. Caroline had the honour of headlining the BBC Proms' Hooray for Hollywood concert, Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday Concert and Kander and Ebb's Night of 1000 Voices Salute , all at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall, London. Caroline's solo show The Showgirl Within was produced at London's Garrick Theatre.

Concert performances worldwide: From Broadway to La Scala, From Broadway with Love (Sydney City Recital Hall), Bernstein's New York with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (Sydney Opera House) A Tribute to the Musical (Palermo, Sicily), Hollywood Symphony (Lille, France), Charlie Chaplin's Smile (Amsterdam) American Songbook - Andrew Lippa and Friends at the Lincoln Center, NY. Caroline has recorded four solo CDs, What I did for Love, Stage to Screen, A Tribute to Piaf and A Tribute to Garland. @carolineoconnorofficially

Neil Gooding is currently one of the producers of Back To The Future The Musical on Broadway & the West End. Neil was also a producer for the premiere of What's New Pussycat in Birmingham, as well as Harmony (New York), Islander (New York) and LEAP (Australia). Other producing credits include Drummer Queens, The 39 Steps (New York), the Helpmann Award winning Sweet Charity, The Empire Strips Back, Handle With Care (NYC) starring Carol Lawrence and Alan Cumming's one-man version of Macbeth (Broadway). In 2014, Neil was the director of Passion, at the Arts Centre in Melbourne for Life Like Touring. He also directed the Australian premiere of Dogfight by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (Hayes Theatre), the national tour of Thank You For Being A Friend, and the World Premiere of Truth, Beauty And A Picture Of You. Neil has produced and directed Sing On Through Tomorrow by Matthew Robinson, LOVEBiTES by Peter Rutherford and James Millar, Love Letters starring Ian Stenlake and Rachael Beck, Irving Berlin: Songs In The Key Of Black starring Lucy Maunder, Mitchel Butel in Killing Time, The Divine Miss Bette starring Catherine Alcorn, as well as being one of the producers of the hit Australian play Holding The Man in the West End starring Jane Turner and Simon Burke. In 2009, he produced the original tour of Breast Wishes and directed and produced the Australian premiere of Gutenberg! The Musical! for which he was nominated for a Helpmann Award and a Green Room Award for his direction. In 2008, Neil produced (with WhiteBox) the World Premiere of The Hatpin starring Caroline O'Connor, Peter Cousens, Barry Crocker AM and Melle Stewart, which then went on to perform at the NYMF in New York. Neil also served as the Assistant Director on both of these productions. For several years, Neil was employed by Jacobsen Entertainment, where he responsible for the financial administration of the Arena Productions of The Man From Snowy River Arena Spectacular, the Long Way to the Top concert series, De La Guarda and Dirty Dancing, as well as being the tour accountant on the road with Ja Rule & Ashanti in 2003. Neil also worked for Delta Goodrem and toured Australia as her Tour Accountant on her Visualise Tour.

Neil is the author of Back to the 80's (which is now produced hundreds of times around the world every year), and Popstars. He has been awarded a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Law from the University of Queensland and was the Chairman and one of the founding members of Hayes Theatre Co in Sydney.

Mi-kaisha - "Mi-kaisha's voice is just like silk," says Triple J's Tyrone Pynor. With her velvety/honey vocals at centre stage, the NYC-via-Sydney vocalist draws equally from soul tradition and pop melody, guided by hard-hitting lyrics about her experience as a young Aboriginal and Pacific Islander woman. Growing up on the streets of her local music scene, the soundtrack of her childhood included soulful 90s tunes and the island music of her father's Koori Radio hip-hop show "Island Hopping."

"My existence is super political, but my music totally doesn't seem so at first glance," says Mi-kaisha. "And I think there's power in that." As an artist and storyteller, Mi-kaisha is also an advocate with a responsibility to actively support her communities and work against the systems that have perpetually oppressed Pacific Islanders and First Nations Peoples in Australia. Splitting her time between Warang (Sydney) and Lenapehoking (New York City), Mi-kaisha has just completed her Bachelors at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, NYU. The vocalist, songwriter, and producer has music in the works to be released in October and will be performing at the very first SXSW on home soil in Sydney.

Adam Rennie is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Originally from Sydney, Adam is now based in NYC. He was recently seen as Hedwig in the New Zealand premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (The Court Theatre). Australian credits include New York Times Critics Pick, Who's Your Baghdaddy (Curveball Creative); Melba (Hayes Theatre Co.); Love Never Dies (Really Useful Co); Prodigal (Bryant&Frank); The Producers; Crazy for You (The Production Company) Jekyll & Hyde (TML); Dr Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Show (Gordon Frost Organisation) and Will Bloom in Big Fish (RPG); American Credits include Nick Hurley in Flashdance (NETworks); Once We Lived Here (Urban Stages); Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Ogunquit Playhouse); Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Hilton Head); NYC3 & Shades of Bublè (EPIC). May we all feel respected, valued & Worthy.

Jennifer Reed is so happy to be back with the AUS Theatre Festival having performed in the last two festivals. She is a professional singer having worked across Australia, now in NY and the tri-state area. She has performed multiple times off-Broadway and regionally in many theatrical productions.

Isaac Hayward is an Australian award-winning music director, conductor and multi-instrumentalist who has worked on a wide range of projects internationally. His work in the USA includes Bad Cinderella(Broadway), King Kong (Broadway), Phantom of the Opera (Broadway), Unmasked Paper Mill Playhouse / Really Useful, and Into the Woods Holy City Arts & Lyric Opera. In Australia and elsewhere, his music direction and conducting credits include Muriel's Wedding the Musical Sydney Theatre Company / Global Creatures, for which he won a Helpmann Award, West Side Story Opera Australia, The Rabbits Opera Australia, The Secret River Sydney Theatre Company / Edinburgh International Festival / National Theatre, London The Mikado New Zealand Opera, Come Rain or Come Shine Melbourne Theatre Company, and Ladies in Black Queensland Theatre, for which he was nominated for a 2016 Helpman Award.

Isaac's arranging and orchestration work includes Ladies in Black, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, The Lord Mayor Christmas Carols, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Michael Falzon, Casey Donovan, Dami Im and Kate Miller-Heidke, Isaac has also worked with Alex Lacamoire on projects for Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, Sadler's Wells Theatre, and Netflix.

Daniel Edmonds is a musical director, composer, music supervisor, arranger and pianist. Daniel is currently working on SHUCKED on Broadway. Daniel wrote the music, co-wrote the lyrics and was the executive music producer of Lea Salonga's latest single Dream Again. Proceeds of the song benefit Covid-19 charities including The Actor's Fund. Daniel also performed with Lea and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Lea Salonga In Concert, which aired in 2020 as part of PBS Great Performances. The concert also spawned a live album.

In the theatre, Daniel was the musical director of the world premiere musicals King Kong, Strictly Ballroom and Dream Lover. For Strictly Ballroom, he worked closely with the film's original creative team, including Baz Luhrmann. Daniel was the originating music director of King Kong in Australia, which was an ambitious and multi-year collaboration with an international creative team and artists including Marius de Vries, Sarah McLachlan, Massive Attack, Guy Garvey and The Avalanches. He was also the music director of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which won the Helpmann Award for Best Musical in 2018. Other theatrical credits include Chicago, Pippin, Fame and Hairspray. He was the musical supervisor for Only Heaven Knows and You & Me, and in 2019 was the music director of the 2019 Adelaide Cabaret Festival Gala, working closely with Julia Zemiro.

He has written music for screen and stage, including the short films Butcherbird and Monolith (both directed by Dave Paterson), The Suitor (directed by Kate Riedl), as well as for Guy Edmonds and Matt Zeremes' feature film Super Awesome. Daniel wrote original music and songs for La Boite's production of The Wind In The Willows, which toured nationally. As a composer and songwriter, he has a number of new projects currently in development.

Daniel has appeared on stages in Australia, New Zealand, London and New York with acclaimed artists such as Lea Salonga, Caroline O'Connor, David Campbell, Meow Meow, Paul Capsis, Simon Burke, Rhonda Burchmore, Johnny Manuel, Tim Draxl, Michael Falzon & Swing On This, Courtney Act, Marcus Corowa, Esther Hannaford, Lucy Maunder and Mat Verevis. He has also recorded and produced numerous albums, and given masterclasses both at home and abroad.

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The Australian Theatre Festival NYC, is an annual celebration of Australian stories and artists in New York City. We aim to: create opportunities for an exchange of culture through the presentation of diverse theatrical content, cultivate the development of Australian artists and their work on a global stage, and connect Australians living in New York to foster a sense of community through a festival setting.

The Australian Theatre Festival NYC is led by Co-Artistic Directors Mark Barford, Connor Delves & Jillian Geurts.


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