Photo: Tony Navarro
Photo: Sara Rott
“I think to myself
“Wonderland where did you go?
“I cannot be the only one that you have ever known
“Wonderland where can you be?
“You cannot be pretend for I have seen you in my dreams
“Wonderland, oh please remember me”
Samantha Hafey, Remembering Wonderland
It will take more than a global pandemic to stop Mornington Peninsula performer Samantha Hafey taking to the stage and delighting audiences with her fantastical theatre productions.
Born and bred on the Peninsula, Samantha grew up in a sporting family – her grandfather was legendary VFL player and coach Tom Hafey – and both her parents are committed to health and fitness. Her mum is a yoga teacher and her dad a sports science coach so her path could have just as easily gone that way. “I’ve always loved sport and fitness,” says Samantha, who is a state champion sprinter. “I grew up surf lifesaving and teaching people to surf. I love competing in everything and anything.”
While fitness and surfing are still a great love, the stage is where her professional focus is. Samantha started acting and singing at high school and followed her passion for music and performance to a Bachelor of Music and Arts at Monash University. For her final recital piece, Samantha decided she wanted to do a show based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and so her version, Remembering Wonderland, was born. “It’s an eclectic mix of genres. I wrote a concept piece, a series of vignettes with music interwoven. I gave friends chapters of the book to read, and they wrote songs from that. Some were covers, some were original.”
Remembering Wonderland has gone on to become a musical theatre show Samantha created with her production company Wild Tongue Productions and performed for the first time in July this year in San Diego, California, where Samantha is currently based. Samantha’s dad has residency in the US; both Samantha and her brother have green cards and were in the US with their dad before the pandemic started. Samantha was due to fly home to Australia in July this year with her dad when their flights were cancelled, and new flights became uncertain due to the Delta outbreak.
Remembering Wonderland was performed in July for one night only with a seven-piece jazz band, and then in October Samantha had the opportunity to perform a concert version. “I hoped to create a piece that is creative, very colourful and explorative. It’s a heavily collaborative and immersive piece, with a particular focus on being experiential.” Through a mentor connection in New York, Samantha plans to take the show there next and then hopefully on to Italy.
“I’m the sort of person who pursues things and no one can hold me back. I think people are recovering from the residue of last year and we need people coming together. Creative arts are now so important, more than ever.”
To follow Samantha’s Wonderland adventures, find her on Instagram @gypseablu and @wildtongueproductions