The Chronicle

Bonkers show perfect for times



Teaching football superstar Lote Tuqiri to dance inside a giant pinata is all in a day’s work for creative duo Antony Ginandjar and Ashley Evans. The LA-based power couple returned to their Down Under roots to choreograp­h the current season of The Masked Singer Australia – a show Evans describes as “absolutely bonkers”, and exactly what we need to be watching right now.


“There’s a carefree energy about it, and with all the madness going on, it’s so good to watch some lightheart­ed entertainm­ent,” says Melbourne-raised Evans, who, alongside partner Ginandjar, has creative directed for the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift through their production house The Squared Division.

“It’s the biggest and most fabulous form of PPE around,” jokes WA native Ginandjar, of the Network 10 show’s elaborate costumes. Among them, a giant pavlova, concealing singersong­writer Mahalia Barnes, and a kind of sea anemone masking US hit singer Macy Gray.

“Working on Katy Perry’s last tour we had dancing lips and TVs – in The Masked Singer it’s a kebab and pavlova,” he says.

Now in its third Australian season, The Masked Singer is a spin-off from a wacky South Korean singing contest, which sees public figures in outlandish costumes compete onstage while celebrity judges hypothesis­e over their identity.

At a time of widespread mandatory mask-wearing, judges Jackie O, Dannii Minogue, Dave Hughes and Urzila Carlson lead some light relief as the nation obsesses over who is behind the outlandish masks.

Ginandjar and Evans are among the privileged few in the know. Now back in LA, they’ve been fielding messages from intrigued Australian friends and family. “My dad texts me all the time wanting to find out who they are,” says Evans. While their lips are sealed, the pair hinted at some serious A-listers to be unmasked in coming weeks.


Already, the season has been a rollercoas­ter of shocks and wardrobe malfunctio­ns, including a performer’s mullet-coiffured fish head falling off during a bout of onstage push-ups. Gasps filled the set when chef George Calombaris popped out of a sparkly gold duster, and not Shane Warne as predicted, while last Sunday saw shock jock Kyle Sandilands emerge from a Rubble suit to the bewilderme­nt of judges, including his longstandi­ng co-host Jackie O. Regardless of musical talent, the costumes are a great equaliser, says Evans, requiring performers to sing and dance with limited vision, weighed down by heavy adornment.

“It’s insanity, and puts everyone on the same playing field,” he says.

Seeing their growth through the show has been a heartwarmi­ng element for Ginandjar, who says the masks are a licence to defy their public personas. “It’s so inspiring to see them get braver and braver, in their choices physically and vocally.”


Working on an Australian production was a fullcircle return for the couple, who met in Sydney 16 years ago as ensemble cast members for Grease. They got their big break as creative directors and choreograp­hers for American artist Kesha, relocated to LA and have been scoring gigs with a who’s-who of pop ever since.

“It feels great to have these opportunit­ies to come back and work with Aussies again,” says Ginandjar. It was also, seemingly, meant to be. Before The Masked Singer concept was bought by any western TV stations, he recalls an industry friend sending a link to the Korean show, suggesting they were cut out for the job. “We were like, ‘This is so crazy, I highly doubt this will be brought to Australia’ – but hey, here we are.”

The Masked Singer, Sunday–Tuesday, 7.30pm, Channel Ten. Follow @thesquared­divison

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 ?? ?? Singer Mahalia Barnes revealed as the Pavlova in The Masked Singer; left Jackie O shocked to see Kyle Sandilands revealed as Rubble from Paw Patrol; below, Lote Tuqiri as The Pinata.
Singer Mahalia Barnes revealed as the Pavlova in The Masked Singer; left Jackie O shocked to see Kyle Sandilands revealed as Rubble from Paw Patrol; below, Lote Tuqiri as The Pinata.

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