Biography

Mary Lopez is a talent consultant, committed to finding ways to develop and showcase talented Australians of all ages. Her love and admiration of these performers shines through in the success of the almost 60 significant and spectacular productions she has staged over her career. Mary is also committed to leveling the playing field and she works hard to ensure all aspiring and talented young Australians are given an equal opportunity to follow their music and entertainment dreams.

From her early career as a music teacher where she formed a boys’ choir in the coal mining town of Lithgow, to the formation of a Rugby Choir at Epping Boy High School, Mary was committed to helping young people be the best they could be from the very beginning.

Schools Spectacular

Mary was the founding Producer and Director, creating the concept of the Schools Spectacular in 1984, bringing together a dazzling range of young performers from NSW Public Schools in an integrated themed production. She directed this massive pageant of performing arts for 25 years and continues to be involved, appointed the roles of Emeritus Director, Creative Director for soloists’ and featured artists and consulant on the new shows.The Schools Spectacular provides students with different social backgrounds, skills, ages and ability to showcase their talent and passion on a national stage.

Featuring more than 3,000 singers, dancers and musicians, the Spectacular is staged each year at the Qantas Credit Union Arena (formally Sydney Entertainment Centre) and broadcast nationally on Channel 9. Mary’s success also lies in her use of the TDP and the Schools Spectacular to provide a level playing field for disadvantaged young performers and those not historically mainstream. As a result, Indigenous students, and those with mental or physical disabilities are now being given a chance to excel, regardless of their circumstances.

Read more about the Schools Spectacular

Talent Development Project

Inspired by the amazing talent discovered while producing the initial Schools Spectaculars, Mary’s passion for promoting and nurturing talented young people ignited and led to the inception of the Talent Development Project (TDP), Australia’s most respected music industry training program. In 1991 Mary devised the TDP training program which prepares exceptionally gifted young performers for careers in the music and entertainment industry. She has been Artistic Director of this unique scheme ever since. Using the experience and guidance of a range of volunteer, contemporary industry professionals from varying fields, Mary’s training program provides unique career development opportunities to public school students from the smallest NSW country towns to the city.

Mary’s ability to identify the potential in young performers is evident in the success of the program. Some of the star TDP Graduates include recording artists Human Nature, Angus & Julia Stone and Paulini; Music Director and Composer John Foreman; Hi 5 star Nathan Foley; Jazz singer, Emma Pask; Music Theatre stars David Harris, Trevor Ashley, Julie Goodwin and Lucy Maunder and a host of award winning country music performers including Darren Coggan, Felicity Urquhart, Drew McAlister, Jedd Hughes, Travis Collins and The McClymonts.

Read more about the Talent Development Project

Bound For Broadway Scholarships

Mary was instrumental in creating the Bound for Broadway Scholarships in conjunction with Michael Kerker, Assistant Vice President, Musical Theatre & Cabaret for The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). These scholarships enable outstanding TDP graduates to attend music theatre workshops in New York conducted by some of Broadway’s leading names, receive private and individualised tuition by current industry professionals and further develop the skills required to break into the Musical Theatre and/or Jazz Industries. Since its inception in 2006, more than fifteen TDP graduates have travelled to the US where they have received intensive training and development and had the opportunity to perform for influential audiences in New York and Washington.

The Bound for Broadway scholarship program continues to bring the TDP and its graduates to international attention.

Other Major Productions

The focus of Mary’s work has always been to create and direct productions that are inclusive of those groups commonly left out of standard expressions of Australian cultural life. Her work has consistently featured and promoted the richness of Australia’s Indigenous peoples and cultures, the abilites of disabled groups and the cultural diversity of ethnic minorities. It is this passion for inclusivity and diversity that makes Mary’s productions unique.

Mary has been responsible for dozens of other major public events including but not limited to ’An Australian Christmas at Darling Harbour’, the ‘NSW Premier’s Concert’, the ‘World Indigenous People’s Conference’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the ‘Australia Day Concert’ at the World Expo in Tsukuba, Japan, the ‘Papal Welcome and Celebration for the Beatification of Mary MacKillop and Jubilee 2000′ at Sydney Super Dome featuring more than 2,000 young performers from Catholic schools.

Read more about Mary’s Other Major Productions

Recognition

Mary’s development of talented young Australian entertainers and her contribution and service to the performing arts was recognised in her appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia on Australia Day, 1999. Nominated by community members and appointed by the Governor General, this is one of Australia’s highest honours in recognition of outstanding achievement and service.

In 2007, she received the Variety Humanitarian of the Year Award for her incredible passion and dedication to creating a level playing field for disadvantaged young performers and in 2010 her outstanding contributions to Public School education and the Performing Arts was recognised with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters (honoris causa) from the University of Western Sydney. In addition she received the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from the Australian Event Awards in 2013 for making a significant contribution to events in Australia and in so doing have done much for the way Australia is perceived overseas. Prior to this, in 2012, The Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) Awards awarded Mary with the Ted Albert Award, bestowed upon individuals who have made extensive contributions to shaping and developing the Australian music landscape. Furthermore, in 2011 Mary was inducted in the Sydney Entertainment Centre’s Hall of Fame (now Qantas Credit Union Arena), receiving the Diamond Appreciation award for 20 years of passionate and inspiring service to the Talent Development Project. Most recently in 2014, the  Department of Education and Communities created an award in Mary’s honour to be given to a recipient(s) who has provided Contribution of Outstanding Significance to the Schools Spectacular called the ‘Mary Lopez Medal’.

 

You would be hard-pressed to find another individual who has sustained such a strong commitment to the performing arts, or who has provided more opportunities for the creative expression of young Australians.

  • Dawn Fraser AO

    "Mary's given more young Australian performers a chance to shine than any other Australian I know"

  • Paula Duncan

    “I consider Mary Lopez one of the true talent discoverers. She has found and established some of the great talents of Australia, including Human Nature"

  • ALAN JONES AO

    "Mary Lopez is a wonderful Australian and a generous giver"
  • John Williamson, Country Singer

    "Mary loves Australia and this love shines through in everything she does"

  • Father Chris Riley

    "In the words of Batchelor Girl – Mary encourages and gives our kids ‘permission to shine’"

  • Human Nature

    “Mary believed in us … she nurtured us, developed our talent. She’s always there for us and we’ll always be there for her.”

  • 2010 TDP GRADUATES

  • 2011 TDP Graduation Screening on Aurora TV

    2011 Talent Development Project Graduation Spectacular

    Premiere Screening 6pm on September 24th

    Aurora TV, Channel 183 on Foxtel and Austar

    Aurora TV is the proud Broadcast Partner of the TDP