Opera singer in blue collar musical

RISING STAR: Edward Laurenson of Remuera is one of the leads in The Factory and is also part of NZ Opera’s emerging artist programme.
RISING STAR: Edward Laurenson of Remuera is one of the leads in The Factory and is also part of NZ Opera’s emerging artist programme.

Edward Laurenson used to sing along to Queen and The Eagles as a youngster.

"I always wanted to be Freddy Mercury. That's how I learned to sing," the 24-year-old says.

He took part in school musicals and joined the barbershop group at Auckland Grammar.

His parents wanted to make sure he focused on his studies, but promised to pay for singing lessons if his grades were good enough.

"When I was told I could sing I started looking at the possible pathways and identified the areas that needed work. Acting was a big one, as was dance," he says.

The former Remuera Primary and Remuera Intermediate student kept up the private singing lessons while studying for his commerce degree at Auckland University.

Logistics is his other passion and he says he will go back in a heartbeat and do his masters and PhD if his singing career does not work out.

But there is no sign of that happening. He has been accepted into NZ Opera's emerging artist programme.

Those selected are given small roles, or understudy, and receive vocal, stagecraft and language coaching. They meet international opera stars and have workshops with them.

"I have a huge stack of music to learn. There's a lot of hard work involved," Mr Laurenson says.

He has permission to take time out from the programme to be part of an entirely different musical experience. He has a part in The Factory, a Pacific musical about the Samoan migrant experience in the 1970s, put together by the Kila Kokonut Krew.

"I couldn't pass this up. I haven't seen anything like this in New Zealand before.

"I'm excited for these guys. They've made something really special," he says.

The story is based around a young Samoan woman who arrives in Auckland with big dreams and is set to work in a textile factory.

The Factory had a sell-out premiere season at the Mangere Arts Centre in 2011 and is coming to Q Theatre from March 6 to 11 as part of the Auckland Arts Festival.

The cast of 14 perform song and dance numbers from an original score by Poulima Salima, alongside a seven-piece live band.

Mr Laurenson plays the son of the factory owner who falls for a Samoan girl in a tale of forbidden love.

He has several solos and duets, and expects there will be some complicated dance moves to master too.

"I was really surprised how polished the show is. It's seriously of international standard."

The Factory is at Q Theatre, March 6 to 11. For ticket information see qtheatre.co.nz or phone 309 9771.

East And Bays Courier