The Wedding Singer Musical – presented by Playback Productions

What better way to spend a balmy Melbourne evening than to head into the lovely St Kilda for some theatre. When I heard that Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer had been adapted into a musical I couldn’t help but get excited and start singing ‘You spin me right round baby, right round.’ The movie brings back so many fun memories for me and I was intrigued to see how the live musical would be transformed. I am happy to say that it did not disappoint!

The Wedding Singer is currently playing at Theatre Works in the eccentric suburb of St Kilda. The musical, which is a variation of the movie is presented by Playback Productions, produced by Connor Absolum and is led by director by Monica Cioccia.

The production, which runs for 2 hours (including interval) takes us back to a time of satin bridesmaid dresses, puffy shoulders, crimped hair dos, and, legwarmers.

Set in 1985 the story follows rock-star wedding singer Robbie Hart as he dances and sings upon the stage, he’s the wedding singer everyone wants to have and he loves weddings! That is until, his fiancé, Linda, leaves him at the altar. Robbie is simply heart broken and can no longer find happiness in others weddings. He then befriends Julia, a waitress at the reception centre, who is about to be married to Glen, a Miami Vice wannabe and all round jerk-off! As Robbie and Julia become fast friends and soon it leads to more, but can Robbie get the happy ending that he deserves, or will it be too late!

The storyline does take a slight twist when compared to the movie version, but the cleverly worded lyrics to the new songs are hilarious and work very well with this story. I was completely engaged throughout and felt for Robbie as he fell into his spiral of despair.

The stage is simple with a few sets and props but the costumes are what I loved! The cast wear an array of brightly coloured truly 80’s outfits such as parachute pants, shiny tracksuits, Madonna lace outfits, and, piano key neck ties! The music choice is fantastic and the band is excellent, they had me dancing and bopping along in my seat.

The lead roles of Robbie Hart (Leighton Irwin), and Julia Sullivan (Katlin O’Keene) have remarkable voices and create beautiful harmonies together, and their chemistry on stage came through to the audience. The supporting roles of Holly (Grace Maddern) Sammy (Dion Kaliviotis) and Glen Guglia (Tim Haughton) also offer both comedic relief and fantastic singing and dancing. Grace Maddern also choreographed the production and features in an upbeat club dance scene number called Saturday Night in the City.
The dialogue and scripting was really funny and while it did contain some of the memorable lines of the film it also had it’s own unique twist.

The Wedding Singer does have drug references and adult themes, so I wouldn’t recommend it for young children. But if you are a child of the 80’s or just love the scene, or are a fan of the movie, then I would definitely recommend head to St Kilda to see this show before it finishes on October 23rd!

Production Details:
14 Oct 2016 – 23 Oct 2016
Time: Thu to Sat 7.30pm & Sat/Sun 1pm
Where: Theatre Works 14 Acland Street, St Kilda VIC 3182
Price: $38 full / $36 concession. / $34 group 10+ [plus booking fee]

Robbie Hart: Leighton Irwin
Sammy: Dion Kaliviotis
George: Danny Nercessian
Julia Sullivan: Katlin O’Keene
Holly: Grace Maddern
Glen Guglia: Tim Haughton
Rosie: Cathy Phillips
Linda: Rosie Alexander
Ange: Emma Watts

Note: This review will also be published with The Australia Times Theatre magazine and I would like to thank them for giving me the opportunity to attend the production last night.  


Sarah K.Gill © 2016


How to overcome stress during times of change and uncertainty

Most people have had to deal with change and uncertainty at some point in their lives. Whether it is changes to your financial situation, unexpected illness, education issues, or changes within the industries in which we make a living.

Everyone deals with change differently, some better than others. Change is a normal part of life, and it can lead to positive outcomes. Sometimes, though, the impact of the change in our lives can result in an amount of uncertainty, and this then leads to stress.


If you find yourself kept awake at night with worries and thoughts swirling around your head, then the impact of uncertainty and change may be affecting you more than you think.


Here are my tips on how you can overcome the stresses that come with times of change and uncertainty.


Take back control:

The issues most have with uncertainty stems from the lack of control of a situation. The best way to turn this around is to take back the control for yourself. Write a list of the things that are worrying you, and make a note next to the ones you can change. You can then write a list of realistic goals that you can impact and look forward to achieving.


Keep positive:
It is easy during times of change and uncertainty to blame others for your worries and see only the downside. Remaining positive is the best way to get through any change. Whether you are dealing with workplace changes or other changes in your life, keeping an open mind and remaining optimistic will adjust your mindset and allow you to deal with the shifts in a constructive way.


Write it down: 
If the worries and thoughts keep coming, write them down. Research has shown that writing down your worries in a journal or on a list can help to get them out of your mind. It is a technique used by many to get the thoughts out. You don’t need to take any action other than writing them down.


Seek support from others:
In times of stress and worry, it is important to find those who can offer support, whether that is professional or personal. You don’t need to bear the weight of your stress on your own.


Take a break:
To assist with taking your mind off things for a while, take time out to do something you enjoy. Go for a walk or read a book, or even go away for a weekend mini-break.


Exercise regularly:
Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. Many of these are symptoms of uncertainty and change. It can be as simple as going for a walk during your lunch break or joining a gym class or yoga class.


Practice mindfulness:
When life’s changes and worries get too much, our minds become overcrowded with these thoughts swirling continuously and cause us stress, anxiety, and could also lead to sleeping difficulties. Take back your mind by practicing mindfulness techniques to assist in centring your thoughts and changing your thought patterns to live in the present moment.


Times of change and uncertainty can be frightening and stressful, but it is important to recognise that you cannot control it all. Think about and change what can be changed, and learn to let go of the things you cannot and above all, keep positive.



Sarah K. Gill © 2016.




How music shapes us all…

It can easily be said that music influences everyone. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t like music. I think that if I ever did, that would be a sure indicator to me that we probably wouldn’t get along.

It seems that lately I have been drawn back to this same thought and feeling whenever I listen to music. Music can influence my mood dramatically. If I am feeling down I will normally put on an Above & Beyond remix, usually my favourite track, ‘On a Good Day.’ Or if I’m already in a good mood, an emotive song can take me there with it, such as ‘No Ordinary Morning’ by Chicane or take today, for example, Prince’s ‘Purple Rain.’

When I heard the news today that another of this world’s bright and talented star has gone from this earth I was heartbroken, I am nowhere near over the passing of David Bowie and now Prince is gone from this world as well.

Bowie and Prince were the two biggest influences in my life as a child and as an adult. I remember dancing in the lounge room with my sisters to Prince’s ‘Thunder’ and then as an adult belting out ‘Diamonds and Pearls’ when I have the house to myself.

I call myself lucky to be able to say I saw him perform live on stage, and what a performance it was. It is something that will stay with me for the many years to come.

Today has been happily spent listening to both Prince and Bowie, and I think it is a day well spent. Music is such an important thing in our lives, and we need to take the time to appreciate it and those who make it before they return to the stars.

Music shows us how to express ourselves, it’s a beautiful form of art and one that only a handful of people can do faultlessly. Prince was one of those people, as was Bowie. I feel privileged to have had his music in my life and to have it here today. I will keep listening, and keep on letting it shape my life through the years to come because it is up to us to keep the music and the memories breathing.



© Sarah K. Gill, 22/4/2016

The Future of Publishing

The publishing industry has been through many changes and has evolved throughout the years. Some say it has changed for the better, some say for the worst. The most significant trends in the industry at the moment are that of e-books, self-publishing, the device age, evolving technology and the stakeholder influence surrounding the industry.


The introduction of e-books has certainly changed the publishing industry. No longer do readers need to go to a bookstore to purchase a physical book or wait for a book to be delivered if ordering online. These days, it is as easy as a click of a button and an e-book can be downloaded within minutes. This has increased readership around the world and in some countries taken over the sales of paper books. For example, in Australia the sale of e-books has increased; ‘In the 12 months to September 2014, 7.0% of Australians aged 14+ bought at least one eBook via the internet in an average three months. Australians aged between 35 and 49 are the most likely to have bought eBooks, with 9.1% doing so in an average 3 months, slightly up from the previous year (8.7%). During the same period, the proportion of this age group that read a book (either fiction or non-fiction, print or digital) increased from 55.0% to 56.7%.’ (Roy Morgan Research, 2015) 


This then begs the question, is the paper book dead? Some people think so, I asked contributor and editor of The Australia Times Health Magazine, Perrie Massouras. ‘I think it will become more of a niche/collector’s item. We are living in the digital age now where everyone wants their entire life/hobbies accessible via one device.’ (Massouras, 2015).


However, I disagree with Perrie, taking a walk into any bookshop shows that there are still paper books being made and sold. I recently walked into a five-level Foyles in London and the store was packed full of people buying anything from science fiction to self-help books. While I do own a kindle for my e-books and I love that I can carry around my whole collection of Neil Gaiman novels on one device, I still enjoy buying books in their paper form.


Self-publishing has changed over the years and it previously had a bad reputation for poorly edited and typo ridden books. But these days more and more authors are turning to self-publishing to get their stories out into the world. The quality of self-published books has changed and many of them have been edited or reviewed by a third party.
A new report says self-published authors (or as they often prefer to call themselves, indie authors) now earn 31 per cent of eBook sales on Amazon, and are earning more eBook royalties than writers published by the big five publishers. (Sullivan, 2014)


There are many advantages for an author to go down the self-publishing road, they can reach more readers, it is more cost effective, and has the potential for higher royalty rates.
However, as Perrie Massouras’ states, ‘The market has a potential for becoming saturated with poor quality products.’ (Massouras, 2015), and this will influence the amount of people who will actually buy and read the book. In fact, many readers are deterred from buying self-published books for this reason.
‘Success stories in eBooks are often the exception to the rule. Only a few Australian e-publishers have made their money back in the last year, much less Australian eBook writers.’ (Writers Victoria, 2012).


Its a case of information overload in the world of publishing today. Readers are now able to access information from their phones, tablets or e-readers. There is simply too much content. The market is saturated with articles and stories of similar content, and the competition is high. The device age has changed the publishing industry dramatically and there are both positives and negatives to this. On one hand having information easily accessible is great for reaching a wider readership and there is much variety in what is on offer. On the other, because there are so many people sharing their own opinions and there is no way to filter the information there is a question on both the quality and validity of the information available online. It would be a better world for publishing and writing if all writers of the device age were disciplined in conducting their own research and ensured accuracy of the information being provided.


Another interesting trend in the publishing industry is the creation of YouTube writers. These individuals have started out as a YouTube channel posting various videos and offering opinions on certain topics. One of the YouTube personalities is PewDiePie, he started out as a YouTube channel and then after he had attracted quite a following he took to writing a book. The book titled This Book Loves You made it to a few bestsellers lists and his YouTube channel has over 40 million subscribers.
‘Judith Curr, the president of the Atria publishing group, says, a lot of people doubted that kids who watch YouTube would be interested in reading books. But as it turns out, they not only like to read, they also like owning a physical book by an author they love.’ (Neary, 2015).


The introduction of eBooks changed the way that readers experience a book, and a latest trend called ‘Interactive Fiction’ has changed it even more. Described as the future for electronic literature, ‘interactive fiction’ allows each reader to experience the story differently and in their own way. The eBooks allow readers to access a different section of the book through links and then they follow their own path through the story. Readers can follow a different character to a point where many paths cross, which allows them to experience the same events through multiple viewpoints. Its also interesting to note that this technology has been around for a little while and it has not yet been fully explored by publishers, ‘Melville House has a line of “illuminated” novels with QR codes that lead to extra digital content; Picador published “The Kills” in 2013, a “digital-first” thriller that links to online films from characters’ points of view.’ (The Economist, 2015).


Because of the device age, eBooks and self-publishing I believe that stakeholder input and influence is not as strong as it used to be. Of course with publishing books and articles in newspapers they will have stakeholder sway over them. But there are other avenues for writers who want their work published and don’t care about how it is done. This will be dependant on the all-important question – will I get paid for this article? As a lot of paid work will have stakeholder involvement and influence over what gets published and what doesn’t.


While other writers have described the future of the publishing industry as being bleak and miserable for new writers to get anything out there. I am optimistic that there are still opportunities to be found in the industry. The industry has changed significantly and technology has been the larger factor in those changes. I feel that technology and the device age in particular, has opened up more doorways for creative people to step through. Technology has allowed publishers and writers to reach more people, and I think that is a great thing.
I think that the publishing industry will continue to change and grow and I am excited for what those changes will bring.


© Sarah K. Gill, 2016




How to have a strong marriage – tips for newly weds

A good friend of mine, and bride to be recently asked me what it takes to have a successful marriage. I was surprised by the question and then she explained that my marriage is one that she admires and she looked to me for advice as she and her fiancé prepare for the rest of their lives together.

The question led to me to reflect on my relationship and on what I have learnt in the five years that I have been married. Upon my reflection it seems my friend was right to ask me for my advice. It turns out that I do know a few things about being married.

Here are my tips for newly weds and new couples on how to have a strong and successful relationship.

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage
Let me start by saying this, no marriage or relationship is perfect and that’s not a bad thing. If someone tells you that their marriage is faultless, they are either lying or they are in denial. This would be my first piece of advice to any new couple or newly wed, once you realise that no relationship is perfect you can move on to what really matters and build a strong relationship together.

Everyone has his or her own individual faults and imperfections. That’s what makes them interesting and what probably drew you to them in the first place. If you asked my husband what my biggest flaw is I am sure he will tell you its that I nag too much, and if you asked me I would probably ask you how much time you had!

My point is, don’t be delusional about your relationship and don’t worry if you argue about whose turn it is to take out the rubbish. Every relationship has its up and downs, some worse than others. The important thing is that you get through them together; you’ll be stronger for it on the other side and it will bring you closer.

Communication – talk to each other!
This is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give you. Communication, talk to each other and I mean really talk. Don’t just talk about what you have planned within the next week. Open up about your inner most desires and your feelings. Yes it sounds cliché but it is an important part of any relationship, you need to communicate with each other on a deeper level and reach a level of understanding.

Only then will you begin to grow as a couple and learn more about each other in the process. A good relationship is built on strong meaningful communication and the ability to recognise each other’s body signs and thoughts. You will get to a point where you know how each other think and feel and that will not only make you better people but it will create a connection between you that is strong and long lasting.


Laugh about the stupid arguments
There have been many arguments in my marriage. Most of them are about small things, like who left the light on all night or whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher.
These arguments are petty and completely normal, but the one thing that we do without fail when one happens is make each other laugh.

My husband always cracks a smile when I start getting angry about small things and then I simply cannot keep a straight face – let alone stay angry. That’s when we both realise how ridiculous it is and we both laugh and then move on.

It’s important not to let the little things bother you too much. Yes, it’s the little things that make up life, but don’t let them run your life.
Learning to laugh with each other helps you to recognise when you are being trivial, it is a great skill to have and can do a lot to defuse little arguments before they get out of hand.


Never go to bed angry – no matter what
Going to bed angry with your partner is not a good way to end a night. It leaves you both feeling upset and tense and can lead to a disrupted sleep, which will in turn have you both feeling grumpy in the morning.

So don’t do it, it’s as simple as that. Swallow your pride if you have to and apologise even if it isn’t your fault.

Make amends and start the new day fresh and on a clean slate, your marriage will be better for it and while it may be hard to stick to this advice, especially if you believe you aren’t in the wrong, it is an important step to growing together as a couple.

There is no denying that there will be arguments in your marriage, the hardest thing and most important thing to do in these arguments is to know when to stop and either let it go or apologise.


Make time for each other, even if you have to schedule it
Once the honeymoon period ends, and you start to get back into normal life you may find it hard to find time together. Life’s events can get in the way of your quality time so it’s important to make a commitment to spend time together.

Turn off your phones and schedule regular date nights. Go out for dinner, cook a meal together, watch a movie, do what ever you want to do there is no limit to it.

Why not even go on a date to a place you went to before you were married to remind yourselves what it was like when you first met.



Say I Love You; every single day
My final piece of advice is one of the easiest to do and yet so many people fail to do it.
Say I love you, every single day.

Many people forget these words; just because you’re married and it’s obvious that you love each other it doesn’t mean that you or your other half doesn’t need to hear the words.

So tell them, every day, for the rest of your lives.



© Sarah K. Gill 2016

How Mindfulness Can Impact Women in the Workplace

We all know that the corporate world is both a hectic and stressful place. If you want to avoid those stresses impacting your life, then you need to exercise self-care. Failing to make time for self-care means failing to make time for your overall sense of wellbeing.

Corporate women tend focus more of their time on meeting the needs of their job, families, and other commitments, which can lead to neglecting their own needs. There are startling statistics regarding the poor health and wellbeing in working professionals. According to the Australian Psychological Society (APS) Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey taken in 2014, Australians reported significantly lower levels of overall workplace wellbeing compared with findings in 2012 and 2011. Our wellbeing and home life is being negatively affected by our jobs and this needs to change.

It is unrealistic to think that we can remove stress and anxiety from the workplace completely, and a busy woman cannot be pulled out of her job for a huge portion of time, which can create anxiety in itself. However, there is a technique that is starting to be used more widely in Western clinical intervention and by many women to reduce the everyday stresses we face at work; it is called mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This creates a therapeutic reaction and can reduce ongoing stress women face at work.

The APS Stress and Wellbeing in Australia survey tells us that there are now lower levels of job satisfaction than findings reported in 2012 and 2011, and significantly lower levels of work-life balance than in 2011. The levels of stress that women face these days are much higher and are increasing the demands placed on our lives.
Because of this, companies are starting to pay attention and many of them offer work life balance options for their staff and a quiet place to recharge and calm the mind. There are also a lot of ‘Corporate Mindfulness’ programs available to assist companies in training their staff to have a mindful outlook on their lives and work.

But how can you work on achieving mindfulness in the workplace if your company has no such program? The key is finding ways to take a few minutes from each day. By tweaking that time here and there you allow yourself to sit and enjoy the sounds, smells, and sights around you or focusing on breathing exercises. You can go for a walk at lunchtime and sit for as little as five minutes to refocus and refresh your mind. If you are extremely time poor at work, you can close your eyes for two to three minutes while sitting at your desk and focus on your breathing. The most important thing to remember is that mindfulness doesn’t mean you need to clear your head completely or be in a dark room away from everything; it’s bout being aware in the present moment and focusing on what is happening in your mind and body at that time – no matter where it is or how long you set aside for it.

Like most women, you are probably significantly overwhelmed and highly stressed by the amount of work and how little time you have to complete it all. You may even spend your commute to work thinking about how much you have to do and worry at night about it leaving you tired and lethargic the following morning.

Stress can affect our lives and our health. Women can literally worry themselves sick, which can lead to taking time off work, which then causes a flow on effect of even more anxiety about your increasing workload and demands.

Take control of your own health by doing some research on how you can help yourself. With the application of mindfulness techniques in the workplace you will be able to catch yourself thinking negatively about work. Use your commute into work as the perfect time to listen to a guided meditation. By doing this you can redirect your thoughts into something positive and focus on what you can do at work and more importantly, what you can control. It won’t take long before you start seeing the benefits. You will start feeling better physically and mentally and will be able to go about your workday with a lot less anxiety, and eventually be able to leave work problems behind when you leave at the end of the day.

After my own experience in how much mindfulness had assisted my anxiety and stress. I decided to open up the topic for discussion amongst other women in corporate jobs. I was surprised to find that many of the women in my workplace were not aware of what mindfulness meant. Most assumed it meant shutting of your mind and thoughts and having a completely blank mind. When I asked a colleague if they had tried mindfulness techniques to help manage their stress her reply was: ‘I can’t switch off and clear my head completely.’

Once the meaning of mindfulness and the benefits it creates are understood, you will be more inclined to practice it to assist with your own stresses and anxiety at work. All of the women I spoke with were open to the idea of taking a few minutes each day to sit alone and practice mindfulness and even suggested organising their own mindfulness groups at work.

Mindfulness is also being used a technique in psychological treatment. Honour student Renee Gergis who is studying a Bachelor of Psychology at RMIT states ‘Rather than attempting to control or extinguish issues of stress or symptoms of mental illness, the focus is on accepting that it is natural for these thoughts to occur. By allowing us to acknowledge these thoughts, feelings and sensations as passing, it allows the person to get on with their life.’

Renee also advocates using mindfulness in the workplace and states ‘workplaces need to be vigilant in ensuring that all employees are healthy and relatively stress free. Providing recourses and psycho-eduction (e.g. R U OK Day, mental health week) allowing workers to have flexible working arrangements, or providing access to a quiet space during the work day can be helpful.’

In the corporate world, we are constantly exposed to an environment that is focused on deadlines and efficiency and at times highly stressful situations. Continued stress has a negative impact on our lives and the lives of those around us, both physically and mentally. Taking a few minutes out of the workday (not just during lunchtime) to practice mindfulness can significantly reduce the stress and anxiety we face in the workplace.
It is critical that women engage in self-care and practicing mindfulness is a simple and effective way to accomplish this.
Regular practice of mindfulness can:
– assist with stress management
– reduce anxiety
– increase focus during tasks at work and home
– promote new ideas and thought processes
– improve relationships
– increase in self-regulation and wellbeing
– increase in emotional intelligence
– assist in our ability to manage conflict
– assist us to communicate more effectively
– allow us to consider alternative perspectives
– allow us to stay in control of our emotions
– increase in the brain’s ability to repair itself and grow new neural connections.

Techniques and tips for practicing mindfulness:
– The Smiling Mind is a free phone application that offers daily mindfulness and mediation practices; Headspace also has a meditation application.
– There is a range of free-guided meditation applications for your phone.
– Take five minutes at the end of your lunch break to sit and practice mindfulness.
– Use your commute times to and from work as a place to practise mindfulness – a few minutes of train travel could be devoted to it.
– Start up a meditation/mindfulness space at work where you can have a group practice together.
– Sit at your desk for a few minutes with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing.
– The important thing is to remember to try and practice both in and out of the workplace and find and system that works well for you.



6 Mindfulness Exercises You Can Try Today


© Sarah K. Gill 2016



Why do I write?

All throughout high school I was adamant that I was going to be a successful writer when I graduated. I had an image of myself in the future sitting in my own city centre high-rise apartment typing away on a blue Apple iBook. I was sure that I was going to study writing at University, then become a successful journalist and spend my time writing features and articles. But as is the way with a lot of high school dreams, that exact one didn’t come to fruition – not in the way I had envisioned.
I didn’t get into University and instead I was accepted into a business administration course through TAFE. It wasn’t my first preference but I figured I could use it to get a job to fund further study and the high-rise living that I craved. But before I reached term 2, I dropped out. It wasn’t what I wanted to do and I didn’t want to waste my time. I wanted to write and that’s what I was going to do – or so I had planned.
Again I was faced with another roadblock to my goal. Still living at home and out of school, I had to get a job. I began working full time and got a taste for earning my own money. My writing ambitions went on hold, and life took over. I began working for insurance and in that I found a different path, a career. Time went on and still my creative writing self was hidden in the background while bigger events like, moving out, building a house, adopting fur children, getting married and moving again took precedence. I grew up, but the aspiration was still there. Throughout my busy life I had continued to write a journal and I was always reading. Whenever I read an awe-inspiring novel I would think to myself, I wish I could write like that. Then it hit me, why couldn’t I? I enrolled myself into a short writing course to see if I was still as good a writer as I thought I was in high school, and to test myself to see if I still had the passion. It turns out; the passion never really leaves if you truly have it.

So here I am after having finally completed the writing course that I had set out to do when I was in high school some 13 years ago. My ideals and life has changed dramatically, but the goal remains generally the same, I want to be a successful published writer. Though I no longer want to write just one novel, I want to write several. I long to write the types of novels that ignite and inspire others in the same way that I have been when I read.

I have achieved a lot during my two years of study, I have become published in magazines, created a writing business, written thousands and thousands of words, and read many more books to broaden and sharpen my skills. I have developed not only as a writer but as a person as well and my confidence and skills have only increased with the more practice I get.

So why do I write? I write to better myself, I write to be a better writer, I write to improve, I write because I have something to say and I want people to listen. I write because I love creating worlds and imaging characters, scenes and places.

I work. I write. I live.

I am a writer and I am proud of it.


© Sarah K. Gill 2016