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A Moment to Shine

A Moment to Shine

21 Jun 2011

Friday May 27 was the special night of the year that the people who live in Metro Residences and their staff had looked forward to for months – the annual presentation of A Moment to Shine, in which they dance and sing in front of hundreds of people.

And judging by the reaction of the audience they, too, had been looking forward to the annual production.

The program organisers - Irene Clout, Jayne Penfold, Rhondda Vassallo and Greg Brown, who are nursing staff employed at Metro Residences - all agree that A Moment to Shine (AM2S) offers people opportunities they have never experienced.

Rhondda said that Metro Residences was very proud of the commitment of the staff involved who volunteer on a weekly basis over and above their employment hours to support the program.

“Several of them – all nursing staff - have been with AM2S since the beginning and include June Craig, Lydia Stephen, Kathy Gottwald, Sue Williams and Danny Fox.

This year, the 58 cast members added hoola-hooping to their repertoire and according to Irene, they showed they really know how to spin the hoops.

“They learnt the basics and for the past couple of months they have been practising regularly and are now among the best hoola-hoopers I’ve seen.

“The audience could see from the expressions on their faces how much they love doing it,” Irene said.

“This year was our seventh presentation and was also our biggest and the performers and support crew were really excited about it as they love music and A Moment to Shine has given them the opportunity to showcase their passion for performing.

“It’s been one of the best things they have experienced.”

Rhondda said the cast members enjoyed the pleasure of participating, being part of a team and making new friends.

“What’s really important is that they have had the satisfaction of completing a project that is supported by their local community and families and friends.

“The cast were unanimous in saying how much they enjoyed performing and how proud their families were of them when they were on stage.”

Jayne said that this year the cast, who ranged in age from 29 to 67, included 20 who have taken part in every concert.

This year’s A Moment to Shine took the form of a live studio recording on New Year’s Eve 1959 called “On with The Show”, a journey through the “wonder years” of rock’n’roll which included the Metro Globetrotters basketball troupe and singing by The Platters.

And what else could the Australian segment feature but clients pushing lawnmowers?”

Greg said that when they hit the stage, the cast had spent 15 weeks rehearsing.

The Minister for Disability Services, Andrew Constance, attended one of the last rehearsals and described the performance as “inspiring” and later met members of the cast and congratulated them.

AM2S, as it’s commonly called, began with 35 cast members supported by 10 staff and six volunteers who produced the show with no budget. Only one costume was used and the show ran for about 25 minutes. The Parramatta RSL provided the venue free of charge and the concert attracted 120 people.

Since then, ongoing funding has enabled the group to employ make up artists, hairdressers, lighting and sound technicians and have the costumes professionally made and a DVD of the concert produced. The teachers have professional standing in the performing arts industry.

Even though professionals are used, there are plenty of volunteers including include therapy and dance students, family members of the cast and staff and friends of families who have at times become part of the AM2S process by making sets and props and transporting the costumes to and from the theatre.

This family and wider community support is the best indication of the success of A Moment to Shine - from the opening audience of 120 to this year’s audience of about 600.

What started as a show for family and friends of the cast members has now ballooned to include a very wide community which has heard about the show’s professionalism and the enjoyment it provides not just the performers, but the audience as well.

The show is produced each year by Metro Residences in partnership with Imprint Productions, which was created to impart, encourage, inspire and train people including children and adults with a disability. Sarah-Vyne Vassallo has been the Artistic Director for AM2S for the past five years and brings with her a wide variety of experience in the performing arts.


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