Arts / Joanna gets into the swing of success

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Actress and entrepreneur Joanna Richards... “In this show, there’s a subtext of how music and culture intertwine, and it really gives you a sense of what the baby boomers have lived through.” Photo by Andrew Finch
Actress and entrepreneur Joanna Richards… “In this show, there’s a subtext of how music and culture intertwine, and it really gives you a sense of what the baby boomers have lived through.” Photo by Andrew Finch
GETTING theatre make-up over her clothes during fast changes helped actress and entrepreneur Joanna Richards get to the final of the Telstra Business Woman of the Year Awards.

Joanna has been acting in Canberra since she was eight and says that performing will always be a passion for her.

She’s about to appear in “Baby Boomers”, a revue tracking the decades and music since World War II, at Teatro Vivaldi.

“I perform because I’m creative, so I need that to kind of nourish myself,” she says.

“In this show, there’s a subtext of how music and culture intertwine, and it really gives you a sense of what the baby boomers have lived through.

“It’s also really cool to see how music has evolved through the years, and the dancing is so different. We’ve been learning steps that you wouldn’t do now, and it’s interesting to see how they moved.

“In the ‘40s it’s all quite proper and then in the ‘70s we’re all over each other!”

But she says it’s the ‘80s part of the show, with its power suits, Madonna, Abba and Wall Street attitude, that she really enjoys.

“For me, the ‘60s and ‘70s sort of blend but the ‘80s really stamps its feet,” she says.

“I think there will be a certain kind of smile from audience members who were actually there – we all know and love the songs, but there’s nothing like having lived it, remembering when that song was released or what it was like when the Beatles came to Australia.”

But back to the make-up problem.

“My friend and co-founder of Solution Solution, Katie Doherty, is a chemist and I was complaining about quick changes and heavy make-up and how you wear a white dress and end up with make-up all down the front of it,” says Joanna.

“And she casually mentioned that when she did her chemistry degree she came up with a formula that gets rid of that instantly. I told her, you have no idea how many people would want this!”

Joanna says that Solution Solution is a scientific laundry brand that has developed a product with the CSIRO specifically targeted for instant make-up removal from clothes.

“Because of the unique constituents of make-up, which is designed to sit on the skin without being absorbed, it makes it a very difficult stain to remove,” she says.

“Make-up is also full of colour, which when you then try and remove it you have to be careful to not remove the dye of the clothing.”

Joanna says that once she and Katie started pursuing the idea as a business in 2014, they found that laundry was a field that had been “left behind”.

“People who may not be able to buy a house any more are spending a lot more on luxury items like clothing, but have no real idea of how to take care of it,” she says.

“So we decided to build the branding around information and teaching people to love their laundry again, and we became ‘the lost art and the new science of laundry’.”

As to how the formula works, Joanna says the secrets remain in the lab.

“It’s a foam that you dab on and the make-up comes out instantly, no soaking needed, and there’s nothing else that really does that,” she says.

Joanna, 22, won the Telstra ACT Young Business Woman of the Year Award for her work on the branding, marketing, design and sales with Solution Solution, and was the youngest of the state winners.

“I think that’s where my strength is – I have the creative vision to help with branding,” she says.  

Fluent in French, Arabic and Russian, Joanna says she has recently returned from a scholarship to study theatre at Harvard with the Moscow Art Theatre. She’s also writing an honours thesis on female leadership and the relationship between linguistics and gender in government.

Joanna says that as she’s fresh to business, having come out of a political science degree followed by a theatre degree, and then finding herself in a startup, she feels she has a lot more experience to gain.

“Both my parents are in business and it’s something I naturally seem to have a talent for, but it wasn’t something I ever saw myself doing, especially when I was in high school,” she says.

“Startups are so fast-paced, and it’s the same as theatre; you have to be on the ball, thinking constantly and working as a team. With theatre you’ve got an idea that you turn into a product, and it’s the same with a startup.

“I like to be doing lots of things at once and, at the moment, I’m involved in another startup, but I’m also planning to do my own venture talking to women about careers. I want provide a representation, showing women the possible pathways they can take.”

Joanna says she has now left Solution Solution to pursue these other ventures.

“Once we had got the business to the next stage and the brand was successfully built, I figured the easy option would be to stay there for the rest of my life,” she says.

“But if I wanted to do something else – I’d love to do a film or theatre company one day – I feel I need to work in different fields and with different people, to give me stronger networks for the future.”

“Baby Boomers” is on December 10-19 at Teatro Vivaldi. Bookings to or via Teatro Vivaldi

Louise marches on to today

“BABY Boomers” was first conceived by writer/director Louise Rostron after her experience as a cast member in a locally produced show called “Pack Up Your Troubles”.

That show ended with Prime Minister Ben Chifley’s announcement that World War II was over.

And it’s with that announcement that Louise starts the new show, a series of linked vignettes with music, characters, costumes and narration complemented by a “slide show” of images as the audience travels through the baby boomer years to the present day.

“The first original song in the show was written after a conversation with Baby Boomer friends over dinner where the two topics of conversation were mainly health and superannuation,” says Louise.

“The musical score consists of memorable numbers from each of the decades with a collection of original music pieces highlighting some significant Boomer issues along the way.”

The show was first staged in 2008 and the new production coincides with the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Musical director Matt Webster has created new arrangements for the musical score and choreographer Jacqueline Richards has re-imagined the choreography to capture the dance character of the decades.

Cast members are Jill Elderton, Leonie Leonard, Joanna Richards, Linda Gledhill, Linda Tregonning, Keith Young, Fraser Findlay, Nathan Rutups and Steve Osborne.

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.

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