This month's Younghart Spotlight lands on 17-year-old Billie-Rose Russell from South Australia who just so happens to be the owner of Cool Beans Theatre.
Like other musical theatre kids, Billie is infatuated with all aspects of the art of musical theatre and the family-like community that comes along with it. "A few years ago, I struggled to know where exactly I wanted to go within the theatre world, I knew I loved performing but also knew I loved teaching. This left me conflicted and confused however I knew one thing, that my goal was to learn as much as possible in all areas of theatre" says Billie-Rose.
In doing this, Billie-Rose flew to Brisbane and was lucky enough to get work experience with the Harvest Rain team on Grease - The Arena Experience. During that week she witnessed our Youngharts founder, Tim O'Connor share a diary entry he had written during his high school years that clearly outlined his ambitions for the future. The key line that stuck out to Billie-Rose was "I am going to make a place where people who love musical theatre can perform and train and feel like they belong". Billie-Rose said that "the moment he read this, something within me sparked. I knew that I wanted to create the same incredible yet indescribable feeling of happiness that I get when performing, for others."
Billie-Rose left Brisbane with new skills, friends and a drive to create. She wanted to develop another platform for young creatives to gain experience in a non-judgmental and positive environment. In the next year, she gathered local theatre kids in Adelaide and they performed live theatre at several local history and Halloween events. When asked to perform at Barlow Shoes 150th Birthday function, they formed a tap troupe, choreographed a show themselves and tapped down to the Adelaide Town Hall. "The people loved it" says Billie-Rose.
As the troupe participated in more events, they gained the interest of other like-minded people that wanted to perform, write and be involved with theatre. They gathered professionals in the industry as mentors to guide their participants in their area of interest. During this period of growth, Tim made an Instagram post for the 'Tomorrow Makers' fund hosted by AMP, in which Billie-Rose quickly decided to apply. She was lucky enough to gain funding for the company, allowing them to successfully produce their first musical theatre production!
This show was "The John Dory" and it recently made its Debut in The Adelaide Fringe Festival. The original show was written, directed and performed by youth with the assistance of their lead mentor Kim Spargo. This has been a monumental step in the journey of growth for Cool Beans. They are currently writing their next original musical and score with the assistance of University student composers, providing the students with opportunities to create and perform their own work in a positive and forgiving environment. The show provides opportunities for a cast aged 8-24 years, no matter the skills and abilities and they hope to see it launch later this year.
While Billie-Rose and her team hope for Cool Beans to continually grow, they hope the same for the participants as performers, creatives, leaders, friends and individuals. They appreciate all the support that they've gained so far and can't wait for the future. It all started with a desire, inspiration, some passion and a drive. Be a doer, there is no reason not to be.