Wizard role to the Max

Cockburn Gazette - - STAGE -

JAMIE Mer­canti, aka Slim Jim, is no stranger to mu­sic theatre and his role as the Wizard in APAN En­ter­tain­ment’s pro­duc­tion The Wizard of Oz is cer­tainly his most poignant.

“Max Kay was ac­tu­ally touted for the role of the Wizard be­fore his pass­ing,” Mer­canti said.

“I was a great fan and friend of Max.

“It’s great im­pe­tus for me to per­form as the Wizard and hope­fully hon­our Max at the same time in a small way.

“No mat­ter whether it was a rock band, theatre, mu­sic theatre or opera, he was one of the great­est ad­vo­cates the WA en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try ever had.

“A lot of us will feel like Max is look­ing over us.”

Grow­ing up in Nol­la­mara and Kar­rinyup, Mer­canti at­tended Trin­ity Col­lege on a singing schol­ar­ship, per­form­ing mostly clas­si­cal mu­sic with St Mary’s Cathe­dral Boys Choir.

A dou­ble ma­jor in jour­nal­ism and theatre arts saw Mer­canti work a brief stint as a drama teacher at Melville SHS and var­i­ous per­for­mance roles be­fore start­ing band Slim Jim and the Phatts.

His in­tro­duc­tion to APAN En­ter­tain­ment pro­duc­ers Ma­rina Del Basso and Hamish McS­por­ran came in 2016 when they in­vited Slim Jim and the Phatts to per­form as the pit band in their pro­duc­tion of Grease. Since then he has also ap­peared in their sea­sons of Beauty and the Beast and Legally Blonde, which have all fea­tured an adult cast with pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence along­side young artists.

“They al­ways say they have peo­ple like my­self and other pros in this show to help the kids see how they should pre­pare them­selves and the pro­fes­sional eti­quette re­quired to work in a large en­sem­ble,” Mer­canti said. “But the qual­ity of these teenagers is ex­tra­or­di­nary; they’re all triple threats who can sing to a very high stan­dard, their dance skill is ex­tra­or­di­nary and their act­ing is phe­nom­e­nal.”

Mer­canti said The Wizard of Oz was one of those classic sto­ries that evoked fond memories for ev­ery­one, no mat­ter their age.

“The songs are so beau­ti­fully writ­ten and not just Some­where Over The Rain­bow, which for me is in the top three songs of all time when it comes to a syn­the­sis of melody and lyric,” he said. “I do feel all the other songs in there are so catchy and provoca­tive.

“Peo­ple will walk away singing them.”

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