Siobhan Ginty has worked hard to get where she is. It’s not easy looking after other people’s creative choices and maintaining the artistic integrity of a musical but Siobhan has found herself more and more in demand as a theatrical caretaker of sorts. The title of Resident Director is the person who, once the original director leaves the production, stays with the show and makes sure the scenes are working, the dialogue is accurate and the general tempo and ‘direction’ of the show runs smoothly. Siobhan is the Resident Director and Resident Choreographer on The Rocky Horror Show, which is touring to Korea and New Zealand shortly and she spoke to me on the last day of rehearsals in Sydney’s Woolloomooloo, during her lunch break.
I began by asking Siobhan how it was that she came to be working in this dual role? ‘It was something that I always wanted to do, but I didn’t actively go seeking this line of work, I kinda fell into it. My first big creative job was on the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne a few years ago, as an assistant choreographer’, she explains. The result of a formal job interview, ‘in an office’, she laughs, Siobhan was one of four assistant choreographers on the project. ‘That was my first big creative process and I loved it, sitting around the table and discussing options’, she clearly loves the work. After more of the interview it started to become more obvious to me how this all came about. Siobhan performed in the musical Titanic at the Theatre Royal directed by John Dietrich and choreographed by Jo-Anne Robinson. It was during this season that something happened between Siobhan and Jo-Anne, which planted a seed for the cross to the creative team.
In true show-business fashion the story will unfold thus. Someone in the cast of Cats (on which Jo-Anne Robinson famously works) got an injury and Siobhan was flown to Asia to fill the role. During this time ‘there was talk of me Dance Captaining the show but this didn’t eventuate’ she remembers. ‘She (Jo-Anne) was always putting her hand up for me and I expressed interest’ and as a result Siobhan was offered her first gig as Resident Choreographer on the musical Jeckle And Hyde. ‘On the first stint of Jeckle we went to Korea and Andrew Poles was Resident Director and we worked really closely together and really well together and I feel like he almost trained me. He was never the director and I was never the choreographer. I would suggest things and he would suggest things. It was just an awesome collaboration’, explains Siobhan with much respect. When the show returned to Asia, Andrew was otherwise engaged and he suggested Siobhan take his role. So she took over and became both Resident Director and Resident Choreographer. Cool.
What’s a day in the life of a Resident Director/Choreographer? ‘In rehearsals is every day’, she admits. ‘One of your principals goes off…. and you find out at the last minute…. and you have half an hour or 15 minutes to re-space people into a 2 hour show… and fit them into costumes’.
Siobhan trained at McDonald College in Sydney and then went on to complete a one-year course at David Atkins Dynamite Dance Studios. From there, she danced commercially and in the corporate entertainment scene before she joined the cast of Showboat at the Lyric Theatre as her first musical theatre season. Siobhan also appeared in Titanic – The Musical (Seabisuit Productions) and Kiss Me Kate (TPC). When asked what her favourite job was, the reply is an emphatic Witches Of Eastwick, ‘cos it was just such a brilliant cast and a brilliant intense creative process. From day one we were working on our individual characters, we all had a name and a relationship and we spent the first week (of rehearsals) doing drama workshops and character workshops and for me, that was just a great experience’.
As we can hear the cast going through their vocal warm up in the background Siobhan contemplates the groundwork or experience of much teaching as truly preparing her for a life of Resident Director and Resident Choreographer. ‘It’s people skills and energy I think. That’s what I learnt on Jeckle. Just knowing on different days what different people need.’ Ms Ginty is very well respected, enormously talented and is just as useful on stage as she is in the creative chair.
Siobhan is excited to work with the original creator and writer of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Richard O’Brien (who played Riff Raff in the film), when he joins the cast in New Zealand to play the
And then a step to the right.
By Chris Horsey