Strictly Ballroom Creative Team
Read on to learn about the fantastic creative team behind IMTC's major production of 2018, Strictly Ballroom - The Musical.
Cienda McNamara - Director
Cienda McNamara is an award-winning actor and director who has worked with many of Australia's renowned and emerging performing arts companies, both on stage and off.
Cienda has been seen on stage in Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble's production of Richard III. She was a resident artist with the Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe as a part of its in-schools program. In addition to touring, she performed in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet. (Del ArtE award).
In January 2014, Cienda presented and appeared in Hardly The Portrait of A Lady, at Short+Sweet Cabaret Festival in Sydney, winning awards for Best Female Performer & Best Script. In April 2014, she appeared in Trouble for Drop Bear Theatre at the Tamarama Rock Surfers theatre, Sydney. In July of that year, she performed Hardly The Portrait of A Lady at the Tasmanian Cabaret Festival as part of The Festival of Voices. In September 2014, she appeared in A Doll's House, adapted by Lally Katz and directed by Steven Mitchell-Wright, for La Boite Theatre Company and Brisbane Festival, winning a Matilda Award (Queensland Industry) for her portrayal of Kristine.
Cienda’s other acting credits include Minefields and Miniskirts, Assassins, Anything Goes, Children of Eden and Antigone.
Credits include: Undies: The Cabaret and The Hum Series, featuring Megan Shorey (Joymas Creative); Private Lives and A Doll's House (Starlight Theatre); The Fool's Journey (Judith Wright Centre); This Way Up (Brisbane Powerhouse); Rhythm Junkies (Red Hot Rhythm); Historia (She Said Productions) and Parade (Warehaus Theatre Company, at QPAC's Cremorne Theatre). Cienda has a particular interest in William Shakespeare, directing the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble as well as Shakespeare Bits for Carpe Diem Productions. For the Grin and Tonic Theatre Troupe she directed a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She worked as an Assistant Director with Jon Halpin on Betrayal and Heroes for Queensland Theatre Company and for Lindy Hume on Opera Queensland's production of Candide.
In 2012, Cienda was selected to become a member of the prestigious Lincoln Center Directors Lab in New York City, where she worked with leading members of the Broadway community.
In February 2013, Cienda directed the workshop of SPARK for Joymas Creative. She also developed and directed the premiere of Joymas Creative’s The 25 Project in May 2013. She directed World Goes 'Round for the Queensland Conservatorium and Rhythm Junkies: Revived, the new incarnation of the highly successful Rhythm Junkies from 2012 (this show went on to receive an award at the 2014 Australian Dance Awards). She was also Co-director of The Taming of The Shrew for the Brisbane Shakespeare Festival and 4MBS.
Cienda worked on the Australian premiere of The Waiting Room at Melbourne Theatre Company, under the direction of Naomi Edwards. She also directed the Australian premiere of Ryan Scott Oliver's 35mm: A Musical Exhibition and directed Only The Good Die Young, which played at the Queensland Cabaret Festival and a season at The Butterfly Club, Melbourne. She directed a production of Benjamin Britten's The Little Sweep for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and a new production of Little Women for the Brisbane Academy of Musical Theatre. Most recently, Cienda directed A Little Night Music for the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra.
Paul Mercurio - Casting Director
One of Australia's most accomplished and recognised television personalities, Paul Mercurio has explored and succeeded in his pursuits of dance, choreography, acting, television presenting, cooking, beer brewing and writing.
Many will know Paul from his early dancing endeavours and his role in Baz Luhrmann's critically acclaimed film, Strictly Ballroom. Since then, he has carved out an impressive dance and acting resume, performed in 14 feature films, countless Australian television shows, choreographed over 30 dance works for stage and screen and performed in various theatre productions. Paul has been nominated for both a Logie and an AFI award.
Later in his career, Paul began to follow his passion for food and beer brewing while he was a judge for seven series of the Seven Network's popular and long-running Dancing with the Stars. He has hosted several successful cooking shows, including his own show, Mercurio's Menu, for four consecutive seasons – 52 episodes seen in over 48 counties around the world.
Paul has taken his passion for food and beer into writing, having authored three cookbooks, his second book, Cooking With Beer, being declared the fourth best beer book in the world by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2012. It is currently selling in eight countries and in four languages.
Paul was a featured chef on Channel Nine’s Today programme and became a Guinness Book of Records holder for the fastest sorting of coloured jelly babies using chopsticks! He opened his own beer cafe in 2014 which featured American-style low and slow, washed down with over 50 different beers from around the world.
In August 2017, Paul released his Beerlicious condiment range onto the market, featuring a hot beer mustard and a beetroot and stout chutney along with a range of four rubs for spicing things up on the BBQ.
Simon Lind - Choreographer
Simon has choreographed for a number of artists and television shows, including as resident choreographer for the final season of Australian Idol and the 2010-2012 seasons of Australia’s Got Talent, artistic director for the 2010 season of X-Factor (Australia) and regular choreographer on all four seasons of So You Think You Can Dance (Australia), including being asked to choreograph for international star and number 1 recording artist Kelly Rowland on the series.
Simon cut his teeth in the choreography business in live performances and video clips for a variety of well-known artists (see below). Working on television programmes like Channel 7’s Gladiators and Brisbane’s Carols by Candlelight at the beginning of his choreographic career helped him to form a greater understanding of working on television. Staging and music production for 30 Days of Fashion Magazines Go Live annually as well as writing, producing, directing and choreographing Toni & Guy’s 2010 Australian season launch extended his choreographic credits to take on full control of these events.
Simon’s list of corporate clients includes television commercials (TVCs) for Coca-Cola (Asia), YY Tea (Asia), Lam (Australia), 7Up (India), Target (Australia) and Optus Telecommunications (Australia). Corporate shows include Mars confectionery, Optus, AJC, Hewlett Packard, Strathfield Electronics, Amway (Worldwide), Scope, Herbal Essence, Hyundai, Myers, AP Eagers, Rugby Australia, Queensland Tourism and the World Energy Congress. A real highlight in Simon’s choreographic career was the honour of choreographing for Chris Lilley and his smash hit television series Angry Boys.
Commissioned for the past 5 years to handle artistic direction and choreography for the Brisbane City Christmas parades and pantomimes, drawing crowds in excess of 250,000 to the busy Brisbane CBD, has added yet another important role to his varied and accomplished career in the industry.
Music theatre engagements have seen Simon choreographing Essgee’s Australian production of The Mikado and The Production Company’s production of Singing in the Rain.
Simon’s choreography in performances include the Australian tours of West Side Story, The Boy From Oz, Jolson, Singing In The Rain, both tours of The Great Arena Spectacular (of which he was Assistant Choreographer for the most recent tour), Delta Goodrem (for her Australia-wide ‘The Visualise Tour’), Human Nature (for the past eight years and currently with their North American tours and Las Vegas residency), Kelly Clarkson, Will Young, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Brian McFadden, Shannon Noll, Vandalism, Paulini, The Young Divas, Katie Underwood, Cassie Davis and Australian Idol winner Wes Carr, as well as performing in countless TVCs for the Australian market and internationally. Simon has also completed a nearly seven-year engagement with Warner Bros, working as motion capture performer on the feature film release Happy Feet 2, playing the role of Mumble. This was the follow-up to the worldwide success Happy Feet, in which Simon was also a featured character performer.
Now artistic director and course co-ordinator at the famed DLDC performing arts studios here in Brisbane, Simon hopes to help inspire young performers of the future to achieve their dreams.
Robert Clark - Musical Director
On completion of an undergraduate degree in Music Education Robert
was awarded an lnternational Fellowship by the Australia CounciI to
undertake further performance studies at the world-renowned lndiana
University School of Music where he studied percussion and
conducting. Upon graduation he was appointed to the faculties of both
the University of Queensland and Queensland Conservatorium of
He founded the Queensland Youth Choir in rg84 and directed it for 15
years, ln 1986 he was recognised as a Young Australian of the Year for
his work in youth music development,
'Robert has performed with many nationaL and internationaI artists
including Frank Sinatra, Peter Allen, Tina Arena, Julie Anthony and
Robert's credits aLso include producer and musical director for the
2ooo OLympic Soccer GaLa Opening Ceremony in Brisbane, the grand
opening celebrations for the Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok, and for t4
years was the Musical Director for the Brisbane Lord Mayor's Christmas
Carols that was televised state wide