I’ve had the pleasure to photograph this inspiring woman for a number of years now. This was our latest series of shoots for her upcoming production of Puppets.
Some images were shot in my studio, some at Berkelouw Books in Paddington and some at Kings cross Theatre.
It’s always an adventure, I love working with Liv from planning to the shoot day and beyond.
Olivia developed a love of performing at an early age, undertaking many musical studies including piano, trumpet and singing. Whilst living in the Central West she performed the roles of Nancy in “Oliver”, Sarah Brown in “Guys and Dolls” and Angelina in “Trial By Jury”. She won a CAT award for her portrayal of Babette in “Beauty and the Beast” and was nominated for her work as Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz”, Jo in “Little Woman” and Christine in “Phantom of the Opera.” In 2017 she was awarded the Mary Porter Scholarship for Theatre.
Olivia graduated from Griffith University at Queensland Conservatorium of Music (QCM) with a Bachelor of Musical Theatre in 2017. During this time, she has performed the roles of Betty in “Sure Thing”, Ursula in “Sweet Charity”, Carmen in “The Life”, Marguerita in “West Side Story” and was a featured vocalist in Con2TheCabaret and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”.
Olivia has also had the opportunity to perform at the 2015 Tourism Awards; Lord Mayor’s City Hall Concerts as a featured soloist in 2017; as a soloist with the Queensland Pops Orchestra in 2017 and was featured in the “Thank You for The Music: An ABBA Celebration” at the QPAC Concert Hall in 2017.
In 2018 Olivia performed the role of Raelene in the Australian Premier of “S*** Storm” as part of Anywhere Festival in Brisbane.
Olivia directed Into the Woods Jr. in 2020 and Aladdin Jr. in 2021 for Australian Dance and Drama. In 2021 Olivia wrote her one woman cabaret show puppets which will premiere at King Cross Theatre as part of Panimo’s Pandemonium Festival in 2022 before heading on tour later this year.
One hour of existential crisis and millennial dread through the lens of dating whilst simultaneously destroying your happy childhood memories of Sesame St. Puppets follows a 20-something year old woman as she reflects on her search for love, and her ultimate failure to find it. A whacky, weird and wonderful cabaret that provides insight into the frenetic nature of dating in this modern age, using everyone’s favourite Puppets to help tackle the sense of dread as a young woman reflects how she got here…
I wrote the show during the COVID lockdown in 2021. I had been on a date (yes, another one) and a boy whom I had really liked rejected me (yes, another one). As a performer I have spent years dealing rejection (5 years to be exact) but being rejected by someone who I genuinely liked was somehow even more intolerable. So encumbered with a sinus infection (and thanking to God I didn’t have COVID – I had kissed that boy after all and didn’t want to tell him that I had been infectious whilst we were locking lips) I sat up in bed, surrounded by tissues and empty boxes of chocolates and wrote a show.
Since graduating I haven’t had much luck with the industry. I’ve auditioned, been called back, nearly made it, survived COVID, done the Open Calls and Cattle Calls. So, when Panimo Creatives emailed me in November to say they wanted to put on my show at KXT in Sydney (which I had sent an application about in the height of COVID 2021) I nearly died. In fact, there is CCTV footage of me at work receiving that email and let me tell you – it was BEYOND hilarious.
I’m beyond grateful, still in shock and my heart is full. The show is funny – and none of us need depressing drama right now. We need to laugh at someone else’s misfortune. And I’m happy for that person to be me – you can laugh at my shocking choices and epic failures! After a successful Sydney season, we are heading to the Butterfly Club in Melbourne in July. After that we have lots more planned for the show so stay tuned and watch where we are headed because exciting things are coming. We can’t wait to share puppets with the world.
One hour of existential crisis, millennial dread, neurotic ventriloquism and show tunes and you’ve got your hand in the glove of PUPPETS, written and performed by Olivia Ruggiero, part of the Panimo Pandemonium Festival taking over KXT.
Olivia Ruggiero’s antic comedy is a carousel cabaret capering through infantile fairy tale fantasy fuelling romantic ideals of Prince Charmings and Knights in Shining Armour to the real world reality of dating apps, the hook ups and hang ups of the digital age.
PUPPETS follows a 25 year old Olivia as she reflects on her search for love, with a myriad of males manifested as Muppets, and a musical narrative fuelled by Cyndi Lauper, Lennon and McCartney, Judy Garland, Bonnie Tyler and more.
A madcap musical, a wacky, weird and wonderful cabaret, PUPPETS provides a fantastic showcase for Olivia Ruggiero to strut her musical theatre talents – singing, dancing, patter, quick change and abundant energy, a fully engaging and entertaining presence from entrance to final bow.
Directed by Carly Fisher with Music Direction by Charlotte Leamon and Stage Management by Natalie Low, PUPPETS is a fun filled, toe tapping, feel good romp.
Catch PUPPETS at Kings Cross Theatre atop the Kings Cross Hotel.
Review by Richard Cotter for Sydney Arts Guide
I approached Monique in the December of 2021 to do a photoshoot for my upcoming production of Puppets. I needed publicity shots urgently as my show was going on in February and I had less than 2 months to pull together a marketing campaign. The shots were going to be used on social media, as poster, on websites, as flyers, in a million different ways and in a million different forms. I needed lots of shots with different costumes, looks, poses… it was going to take ages and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get it done in time. Monique was more than accommodating. Within a week I was in the studio and within 2 days my photos had been returned to me edited. Her quality of work is exceptional, and she is so generous with her time, passion and skill. She is wonderful to work with and really brought out the best in me. She spent the week leading up to the shoot prepping and learning about the show, so she came with an abundance of ideas – her creativity made the shoot really special!
I then hired her to do my dress run and event photography the week of the show. She was professional and efficient – demonstrating her experience and skill in this setting as well. She took over 1000 photos in my 1-hour long dress run and returned over 200 quality, edited shots within a week. She worked so well with the event and my audience was more than happy to work with her. She is personable, approachable, and so friendly.
I would never use another photographer after my experience.