Local thespians Marty, Emma and Jakob Newell are making Showbiz Queenstown’s latest production Oliver! a real family affair.
Married Showbiz couple Marty and Emma are no strangers to the stage, and this year their nine-year-old son Jakob will make his first appearance as an orphan in the popular musical. Oliver! runs from tonight till May 22 at the Memorial Hall.
Marty, 35, is Showbiz’s immediate past-president and has had leading roles in Queenstown such as Thenardier in last year’s Les Miserables, Jesus in 1999’s Jesus Christ Superstar and Sonny in Grease in 1995.
Apart from helping build the set, Marty’s taking a year off to allow for more family time while Emma, 30, – a former Showbiz actor and assistant director – concentrates on behind-the-scenes work, including designing the Oliver! poster and programme.
Jakob, their eldest child, loves being involved despite some reservations before auditioning.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it because I didn’t get in [to Les Mis] last year,” Jakob says.
“I was thinking I was going to do it when I’m older, like 16 or something.”
But knowing their son is a “natural performer”, parents Marty and Emma “bribed” the St Joseph’s pupil with $20 to give it a shot.
“It’s really fun but some of it’s hard because of the notes – I can’t hit the really, really high notes,” Jakob says.
Jakob’s siblings Maddox, 4, and Isabella, 3, are also budding performers.
“We’re like the [Sound of Music’s] Von Trapp family,” Emma says, laughing.
“We sing every day. We have a kindy-time song, we have a bedtime song.
“We have Guitar Hero World Tour , so we rock out at home as a virtual band. The kids are just starting to get to the stage where they want to be involved, which is great,” Emma adds.
“In saying that, if they don’t want to be involved, there’s no pressure to be.”
Seeing Jakob on stage for the first time will be special for the family.
“Marty’s dad, who used to act, died when Marty was five,” Emma says. “The fact his dad didn’t get to see him on stage but Marty gets to see his kids sing is extra special.”
Marty adds: “I can’t wait to actually see Jakob perform. It will be a very moving experience.”