From classroom to centre stage
ACU student Abigail Adriano is swapping schoolbooks for the stage after being cast in Opera Australia’s Miss Saigon.
Abigail, a second-year Bachelor of Arts (Western Civilisation)/Bachelor of Laws student, will make her professional lead role debut at the Sydney Opera House.
“When I found out that I got the role of Kim, I was jumping for joy. This is a dream come true,” Abigail says.
She has deferred her studies to cope with the rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule, and says the flexibility offered by ACU’s Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP) allowed her to pursue her dream of musical theatre stardom.
“Performing has been an absolute dream of mine ever since I picked up a microphone at family karaoke,” she says. “When I found out that I was playing Kim, I told my parents that dreams come first so my studies will need to wait.
“EAPP allowed me to juggle study with the audition process, which made it all possible.”
Abigail grew up as part of an extended Filipino family in Western Sydney where her mother works for St Vincent de Paul and her father runs a local coffee van.
From family karaoke to singing with the choir at St John of God Catholic Church in Auburn, Abigail has always enjoying performing.
“I’m at church every Sunday serving – and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the gift God gave me,” she said.
“I want to give thanks by giving my gift there first.”
She was at home near Parramatta working at her tutoring job when she got the life-changing call from her agent.
"As soon as I picked up the phone he said, 'You got it.' I just started screaming and crying.
“This show means so much to me, and to perform at the Sydney Opera House, a place I’ve walked past and dreamed about is incredible.”
Of the hundreds of auditioning hopefuls, the 18-year-old was the clear standout. Opera Australia CEO Fiona called Abigail “a star in the making”.
“Developing and giving opportunities to young talent is an extremely important part of Opera Australia’s contribution to cultural life and being able to give Abi this opportunity to make her main-stage lead debut, and in her hometown, is thrilling,” Ms Allan said.
The rising star began dance lessons at the age of six, and at the age of 11, she was cast in Tim Minchin’s Matilda the Musical.
On the small screen, Abigail played the co-leading role of Rose in the Netflix/ABC television series The Unlisted. She also appeared on The Voice Kids Australia and has worked on numerous advertising campaigns.
Abigail is excited to play a role originated by Filipina Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga – a singer she has idolised since childhood.
“My sister and I would listen to so many different musicals,” she says. “One day, she popped on a video and it was Lea Salonga… I saw myself in her.”
“As a kid you’re drawn to characters you can see yourself in. For me, Kim was that role. Not only because she is Asian like me, but because despite all the challenges she faces, she never backs down.
“It means the world to play such a strong female role, but also to follow in the footsteps of the incredible women who’ve played this role before me, and that I have looked up to my whole life.”
The musical is inspired by the opera Madame Butterfly and tells the story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim who falls in love with Chris, an American G.I., during the Vietnam War. Separated when Saigon falls, Kim embarks on a journey to find Chris and reunite with him and their son.
Miss Saigon is one of the most successful musicals in history, having won 70 major theatre awards, including three Tony Awards and two Olivier Awards and been performed in 15 different languages, in over 32 countries and 350 cities.
Also passionate about the arts? Explore our courses.