Rob, you’ve just announced a tour but aren’t you guys still filming the rest of the first season?
We just finished filming the Grand Final show on Saturday so we’re having a few weeks break and giving the kids some rest. We’ve got some rehearsals coming up in a month though.
What can you tell us about the format for the show? Will it be much like it is on TV?
I think it’ll just be a lot of songs, probably less of me and more of the team. There’s also going to be the 'Lil Banditz Krew, they were in the heats and also in the wild card semi final. They’re amazing youngsters, we’ve got them on the tour as back up dancers and to feature throughout the show.
There’s talk of doing a few medleys and there’s talk of a little acoustic set in there as well, you’ll get to see Sean play guitar, Adrien will probably play drums and Tia will be playing piano. I’m looking forward to putting it all together. We’ve got meetings on at the moment trying to figure out the best fit and the best songs to do for the tour. The kids will have a fair input as well.
Will you MC the whole show or sing any songs yourself?
I’ll be singing a few songs with the kids and I’ll be MC but I’ll be getting the kids to do as much as I can. People want to see the kids and the Young Talent team, not me. We’re always trying to get the kids to do as much as possible, even as far getting their own hosting skills up, which is all part of performing. We’re not just teaching them how to sing and dance, it’s also about talking and presenting.
Reality TV is where you got your start but do you think it’s a good environment for kids to grow up in?
For me, I did drama and music in high school but I’ve learned more as I go along, it just happens to have been in the public eye. The kids have got great parents and they’ve got great people surrounding them at the moment. They’re learning lots from the show and from this tour they’ll learn a lot as well. I think it’s healthy, as long as they keep stock of what their reality is and what the real world is and that it’s just another job to get you to the next job.
Reckon there's any truth to the adage you should never work with kids in showbiz?
No, the kids are brilliant; they’re all great performers and they’re really eager to learn. That’s the thing about working with kids, they’re so genuine and they tell you exactly how they feel all the time. They even look up to me and it’s kind of nice to be a strong role model for them, I really like it. It’s helping me grow up as well.
Now you’ve finished filming the first season, are plans already underway for the next season of the show?
At this stage we’re concentrating on the tour and if the show comes back, it won’t be til next year. The good thing about it it’s not a pre-owned show like Idol or the Voice or X Factor – it’s owned by Johnny Young and Channel Ten so we can do whatever we want with it.
Why don’t you bring the part where Johnny Young sings 'All My Loving' in the audience like he used to?
We get the kids to say ‘Goodnight Australia’ in the audience which is pretty cool but they don’t sing ‘All My Loving’ because the song’s a bit weird.
What’s Johnny like to work with?
He’s amazing, he’s got the best aura about him. He is Channel Ten royalty: what Bert is the Channel Nine, he is to Channel Ten. Not only did he do YTT for nineteen years, he also started up the GO!! Show and all these other music shows he wrote, produced, directed and starred in basically. He’s very warm, he’s very nurturing and generous and someone I admire immensely. He always texts me after every show saying ‘great work’, ‘good show’ and ‘keep up the good work’. He’s always there – he warms up the audience at the start of the show for every episode we film.
Did you watch YTT much as a kid?
Mum said I did but I can’t really remember. Dad said we used to watch the footy replay at that time, I was more into footy as a kid. I’ve seen some clips on Youtube when I found out I got the job and I watched a fair amount of clips. It was interesting to see the show evolve over the 19 years it was on air – that’s what I love most about it, how Johnny kept reinventing the show.
Do you have any old favourites out of the cast members or any favourite moments from the show?
I loved the shoulder pads on Danni Minogue and the teased hair. And Vinni Del Tedo, Bevan. Bevan’s last song that he sang.
Any favourites out of the new generation of the cast?
It’s like saying you’ve got a favourite child, you just can’t say it, no way!
For a lot of kids coming to the show, this will be the first live concert they’ll see. Do remember the first live music show you ever went to see as kid?
The first live show that I ever saw was Phantom of the Opera. That was pretty amazing, I remember just being in awe of the sets and the stage and the singing. That pipe organ was so haunting, I still remember it today. As far as a live concert goes, I think the first thing I saw was Matchbox 20 at Rod Laver Arena.
You’ve been in musical theatre a lot yourself recently and you’re part of the cast in Legally Blonde...
Yeah, it opens October 4. I love musical theatre. I auditioned for a few shows since Wicked and I was lucky enough to do a show called The Last Five years in up here in Sydney which was great, we got nominated for best musical at the Sydney Theatre Awards so I was pretty rapt with that. I’m always searching for different challenges whether it’s onstage or on screen.
You also played in bands in a lot of venues around Melbourne before you moved up to Sydney. What are some of your favourite live music venues around these parts?
You can’t go past the Espy. I love the Vineyard and anyway along Brunswick Street, so many great live venues along there. I think my favourite would be the Blue Diamond, which is really nice. They always have salsa and jazz, it’s a really cool and beautiful bar in Queen Street.
Time Out's list of unforgettable Young Talent Time moments:
1. Dannii Minogue and her lesser-known sister Kylie get their hair overdone for a duet of 'Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves'
2. A sixteen year old Nicole Kidman introduces BMX Bandits in a white embroidered white jumpsuit
3. Natalie gets to sing Neverending Story on a magic carpet while Dannii looks bored
4. Asher Keddie sings an age-inappropriate version of Dr Love at age nine on the talent quest
5. Joey Dee sets prepubescent hearts aflutter and is rumoured to be the cast member who became the object of Marieke Hardy's overattentions, inspiring a whole chapter in her book
6. Bevan and his mullet exit the series with a power ballad medley and a plume of dry ice