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NIDA Alumni and Graduates Announced in New Touring Musical RENT

NIDA Design Alumni and Diploma of Musical Theatre graduates have been announced in the new Australian touring production of RENT, the multi-Tony Award-winning rock musical by Jonathan Larson.

The new ensemble cast features Diploma of Musical Theatre graduates Nathaniel (Tana) Lagaáia, Calista Nelmes and Sam Harmon, while NIDA’s Design alumni Ella Butler (2017) and Dann Barber (2014) reprise their roles as Costume Designer and Set Designer from the 2021 Sydney Opera House production.

Tana Laga'aia and Calista Nelmes

Tana Laga’aia (Diploma of Musical Theatre 2022) and Calista Nelmes ( Diploma of Musical Theatre Graduate 2018)

Ella Butler has worked across costume and set design for theatre, film, and live performance. Some of her clients include Google, YouTube, Belvoir Street Theatre, SBS, and Arcadia, CATSINaM, Aquarius Films, the ABC, Pinchgut Opera, Griffin Theatre Company, Hayes Theatre Company, Smart Artists for Tim Minchin and Jungle Entertainment.

Set Designer Dann Barber is an award-winning set and costume designer. He designed Yentl for the Kadimah Yiddish Theatre at Arts Centre Melbourne in 2022, 33 Variations at the Comedy Theatre in 2019, Angels in America at fortyfivedownstairs in 2017, Wittenoom in 2023, and The Amateurs for Red Stitch Actors Theatre in 2022. Dann’s other musical theatre work includes design for Barnum the Musical at the Comedy Theatre in 2019 and Chess at the Regent Theatre in 2021. He was an associate costume designer for the Australian Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty in 2016 and for Melbourne Theatre Company’s Shakespeare in Love in 2019. In film, he has worked with his good friend film director Michael Hili on a range of video clips for artists Flume, Mark Pritchard, and Thom Yorke. Dann has won two Green Room Awards for Best Design in Cabaret for his set and costumes in The Ghetto Cabaret at fortyfivedownstairs in 2019 and the best independent set and costume design for The Mermaid at La Mama in 2021.

Ella Butler Samuel Harmon and Dan Barber

Ella Butler ( Design 2017), Sam Harmon (Diploma of Musical Theatre 2019) and Dann Barber ( Design 2014)

Graduating with a Diploma of Musical Theatre in 2022, Tana Lagaáia quickly made his professional debut at the Hayes Theatre as Mitch Mahoney in the 20th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. He is excited to be making his touring debut in the role of Benny, the former friend and current landlord of Mark, Roger and Mimi.

2018 Diploma of Musical Theatre Graduate, Calista Nelmes continues her stellar career run from Jersey Boys in New Zealand to reaching the Top 12 performers in this year’s season of The Voice. She joins the cast as Maureen, the spirited performance artist.

Sam Harmon, who graduated in 2019, joins the cast as an on-stage swing (Mark/Roger/Benny cover). Sam was recently seen in The Marvellous Elephant Man, Sydney Fringe Festival.

Jonathan Larson’s RENT opened Off-Broadway in 1996 and quickly became a global phenomenon. The show earned Larson multiple Tony Awards along with a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a distinction not received again by a music theatre work until 14 years later. Though Larson himself never saw the impact of his masterwork – he died suddenly in the early hours of the day the show opened to the public – its longevity serves as a testament to the emotional resonance of his creation and an embodiment of its ever-present message ‘no day but today.’ Don’t miss the chance to discover the show that took Broadway by storm.

For tour details and bookings, visit