The 2007 school year must seem like a lifetime ago for Old Paradian Nicholas Kyriacou. But between recent rehearsals for the spectacularly-successful musical Kinky Boots, Nicholas found precious time to pen a thankyou note to the College’s Musical Director Martin Macaulay.
“The music department was really where I started as I never had any formal training,” Nicholas recalled. “I remember getting involved with the College musicals, the first of them ten years ago in 2007 through Fiddler on the Roof in South Morang . . . those experiences taught me the value of hard and smart work, and I would have been in Year 8 at the time.
“Marcus De Fazio, a good friend, said to me, ‘Come and have a go at Fiddler on the Roof’ and I thought ‘Oh I’ll have a go at it’. Anyway, I did it and backed it up the following year with West Side Story.”
So it was that Nicholas discovered that creative side, which later prompted his pursuit of community theatre and in turn resulted in him landing a series of lead roles. As he said: “Those roles made me feel that despite having no formal training I was capable and knew I could do it”.
By 2010, Nicholas sought out singing, dancing and acting opportunities quite independently of his Parade commitments. The following year, on the end of what was his VCE year, Nicholas pursued the craft through studies at the Victorian College of the Arts.
In 2015, Nicholas completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in music theatre and last year landed his first professional work at the Melbourne Recital Centre - plying his craft with the likes of David Hobson, Debra Byrne and Lisa McCune in the short season of Follies – In Concert.
Nicholas then followed up with a role in Dusty The Musical – and was committed to American Idiot in Brisbane when the call came through for Kinky Boots. He subsequently auditioned, landed the role of a ‘swing’ (industry speak for covering a succession of character roles) and must now nail no fewer than 12 character roles when he takes to centre stage. Not surprisingly, Nicholas has been putting in the hard yards at rehearsals at Her Majesty’s Theatre before the show goes on the road to Sydney next week.
Of Greek Cypriot heritage, Nicholas’s paternal grandfather relocated to Australia with his English-born wife at the time of the great post-World War II migration. Years later, Nicholas, then a 12 year-old, returned to his grandfather’s homeland and to this day carries enduring memories of what he says is a truly beautiful place to which he one day intends to return.
The story of his grandfather’s exodus from Europe also serves as a salient reminder to Nicholas that nothing in life comes easy.
“As I have started to get more and more work, I’ve been reflecting on the time when I graduated and couldn’t get any work,” Nicholas said.
“My Mum said to me the other day that although we live in a world where it’s ‘bang, bang, bang’, other things still take time - and I have worked hard, studied and auditioned over a long period because I understood that this was the reality and it would take a while.”
Through it all, Nicholas has had to supplement his income with a succession of part-time jobs - which is fine for this 23 year-old who found his calling up the road at South Morang.
Already Nicholas has mapped out a five and ten-year plan for his future in this tough, uncompromising industry “and my ultimate destination is New York City”.
But wherever work takes him, one thing’s for sure – he’ll be forever indebted to the Bundoora campus and to all the teachers, particularly Mr Macaulay.
As he said: “When I sat there writing between rehearsals I thought back to Parade and the really good starting point which was the musical department”.