HOME AND AWAY
New cast members
Monday-Thursday, 7pm, Seven
As television’s glitterati farewelled Neighbours with a Logies tribute, ahead of the final episode next month, there was an oft-repeated lament: The industry has lost an important training ground that has launched many an Australian star. This week, Home and Away, Neighbours’ surviving rival and, at 34 years old, the country’s second-longest running soap, responds to this sentiment with the introduction of not one, but four new cast members. The multi-disciplined actors who comprise fictional pub rock band, LYRIK, are musicians and musical theatre performers, who, like so many before them, may just be able spin the experience and exposure of a weeknight soap into career gold.
“It’s certainly such a sad time in our industry to lose such an incredible show, or any Australian drama,” says Stephanie Panozzo, a Bell Shakespeare actor who plays bass player Eden, and whose television credits include Nine’s Hyde and Seek and ABC Kids animation, Spongo, Fuzz and Jalapena. “But in terms of Home and Away, we’re so lucky that we have such a loyal fan base, and amazing writers that pump out incredible storylines … The pace of this show, it’s fantastic. It surprised me how fast it moves. It really makes you lift your game in so many ways.”
“The pace of this show, it’s fantastic. … It really makes you lift your game in so many ways.”
Angelina Thomson, who has appeared in ABC’s Wakefield and whose stage credits include Rent and West Side Story, has, like Panozzo, previously auditioned unsuccessfully for Home and Away. She considers the role of keyboardist and lyricist, Kirby, a breakthrough opportunity.
“When my agents told me I had booked the gig, I was a mess. I was crying. I was so excited. I’m very grateful to be here.”
The first actor of Cook Islands descent to join the cast, Thomson made a promise to herself when she was a young fan of the show, growing up on the Gold Coast.
“I remember being in my lounge room and thinking, ‘I’m going to be on that show one day. I don’t know when. I don’t’ know how. Maybe I’ll be 60, but I’ll be on that show one day. It is not a dream that is out of my reach.”
She was thrilled when the Parata family arrived in Summer Bay in 2020, bringing Maori faces and culture to the series.