Stars push equality, empowerment in Shakespeare musical
After years of fat-shaming and harsh criticism, singer Casey Donovan has finally found her voice in the male-dominated world of entertainment.
The former Australian Idol winner joined a chorus of prominent women taking a stand against inequality in honour of International Women's Day on Wednesday.
"Look it's never easy, it's always you kind of sit there and you pre-think everything before it comes out of your mouth," Donovan said of her 18 years in the music industry.
"The more we can just stand up and say our piece and have conversations and not come from anger, come from you know conversations of 'how do we fix this and move forward?' I think is the most important thing we can do ... and be loud and proud."
Women's empowerment has been a key focus throughout Donovan's career and is also a central theme in the new production & Juliet.
Donovan, a proud Gumbaynggirr/Dunghutti woman, plays Juliet's nurse and confidante, Angelique, a character she strongly relates to.
"There's lots of little bits of encouragement the nurse gives and I think for me, I kind of take some of that for myself because people have told me that life is short and I think it's always about getting back up. She's always reassuring in that way and she's always teaching me something everyday," she said.
The Luke Sheppard-directed show opens at Melbourne's Regent Theatre on Thursday and is described as a modern twist on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
Indigenous star and lead actor Lorinda May Merrypor, who plays Juliet, said the jukebox musical was a great platform for female voices.
"It's totally a show that champions women and diversity in so many different aspects," she said.
New York City-based choreographer Jennifer Weber said the inclusive casting meant broad representation.
"This show is so important because it has such complex female characters in addition to characters all across the gender spectrum, which is important to us," Weber said.
"This show is really a celebration of everyone everywhere on that gender spectrum and no matter who you are, you can find yourself in this show and have something to look up to."
The star-studded cast performs a series of iconic pop songs like Baby One More Time, which helped self-described "insecure" songwriter Max Martin fall back in love with his hit music.
"Anyone who's creative can relate to that ... if you create I think you're always going to be insecure about your work," the Grammy award-winning producer said.
"That's part of the whole process. You really want to do something great but you're going to question yourself, I think it's just part of being in this kind of (industry)."