NIDA offer puts Lincoln on big stage
THE phone rang. Caller ID showed a Sydney number. A moment's hesitation.
This was the call 21-year-old Lincoln Elliott had been waiting for. Would he get the news he desperately wanted to hear?
"I was at a business Christmas party playing golf, pretty tragically I'd have to admit, when my mobile rang," Lincoln said.
"I recognised the number immediately and thought 'here we go, another rejection' but they offered me a place. It still hasn't sunk in."
The place on offer was at the National Institute of Dramatic Art to study a Diploma of Musical Theatre.
Better known as NIDA, this hallowed hall of performing arts in Sydney is notoriously selective. Lincoln will be adding his name to an impressive list of graduates including Cate Blanchett, Baz Lurmann and Hugo Weaving.
Local audiences will know his face, and talent, from recent productions at the Jetty Memorial Theatre.
The Coffs Harbour Musical Comedy Company's last production, Mary Poppins, saw Lincoln in the role of Bert the loveable chimney sweep opposite Fiona Stiles who played the "practically perfect" nanny.
"Lincoln seems to have perfected the art of the quirky character, playing the fey and magical Dickon in The Secret Garden and the delightfully eccentric inventor and devoted dad Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," said local director/choreographer Donna Fairall.
"Bert the chimney sweep is not as simple as he seems to be, and Lincoln captured him perfectly."
In Year 10 at Coffs Christian Community School, Lincoln started drama classes and the dream began.
"My previous school hadn't offered drama so when I moved here I thought 'wow, this is amazing', I loved it.
"I wanted to be part of the local Beauty & the Beast show but that was my HSC year and I was focussed on school but after that year I got roles in The Secret Garden, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins."
And it's not just acting, Lincoln is a talented pianist having studied since the age of four, and he played piano for the recent Coffs Coast production of Annie.
On leaving school Lincoln began his working life with Coffs Coast Adventure Centre then moved to Coastal Media and worked as an editor. But the theatre kept calling.
"It's kind of been in my mind to pursue the arts but realism got in the way," he said.
"It was while doing Mary Poppins, with such a great cast and so much support and friendship that I decided to follow my ambition and try to make this a career," he said.
No stranger to the crushing process of putting yourself out there and being rejected, Lincoln auditioned unsuccessfully four times for the Victorian College of the Arts and Queensland University of Technology before throwing everything he had at NIDA.
"NIDA do a big open audition and I just went for it. It was actually quite fun, and a little scary.
"I had to prepare two songs from musical theatre and a monologue."
Whether it was his rendition of the powerful song Anthem from Chess, his delivery of the stirring monologue from Always or his infectious personality that shone through at the audition, the result is Lincoln, along with his wife Rebecca, are packing their bags and heading to Sydney.
"Rebecca, who is a talented wedding photographer, has been my biggest fan and since I decided on my direction she has been pushing and supporting me," Lincoln said.
At the end of this year Lincoln and his fellow students at NIDA will perform a showcase to an audience filled with people from the performing arts industry along with casting agents who will hopefully hand out that elusive business card.