Denise Norton has risen to be one of our most successful International Stage performers, whose versatility spans from classics to Jazz. Born and bred in Auckland, she became a student member of the Royal Academy of Dance, under the tuition of the well known Director/Choreographer Rhonda Daverne.
At 11 years of age, Denise won her first talent show in Oakura and at 13 became a private pupil of Dame Sister Mary Leo, receiving a scholarship in 1976 for the highest score in Vocal Examinations across Australasia. This led to extensive singing training, and although she participated in: Marriage of Figaro, The Bartered Bride, La Traviata and the TV programme Stars on Sunday, variety was the key for Denise, which led to a cameo role with Tommy Lee Jones as a fierce spear wielding warrior in the film Savage Islands – a film that Richard Taylor of Weta workshop believes kick-started the NZ film making boom of the 1980’s. At the age of 19 Denise discontinued her pharmaceutical studies, joined the Stewart MacPherson stage production of Evita and after completing the NZ, Australian and Hawaiian tours arrived in London in 1984 where she trained further at the Actors Centre.
The participation in AL Webber’s ‘Requiem’ led to a European Tour of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar', an engagement for 18 months as an original cast member of ‘CATS’ in Hamburg, and the chance to perform on Germany’s most luxurious cruise liner MS Europa, after which she landed in NYC to stay for a year and perform in Jazz clubs. Returning to Berlin, Denise performed at the iconic Theatre des Westens in Sweet Charity and the UFA revue, which travelled to the JFK center in Washington D.C.
"I meant every word I said, that is a difficult song to sing and you managed it perfectly".
Harold Prince – New York
The next years Denise gave concerts and recitals in Europe and had an engagement in the prestigious show ‘The Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber’ after which she produced her first Solo CD in 1999 ‘ Never say Goodbye’. This was followed closely by a similar show 'Highlights from Theatre and der Wien' – Viennas largest theatre – starring as the Fairy in the European production of 'Beauty and the Beast' and in 2003 gaining a personal commendation from the influential Broadway director Harold Prince for Sondheim Interpretation. Denise was seen by millions of viewers on Eurosport performing ‘You Must Love Me’ from her CD release ‘Whispering Sands’ – in a televised Ice-skating Gala featuring Olympic Gold medalists and World Champions – taught singing and song interpretation in many countries and performed Miranda and Roderigo in ‘Shakespeares Musical Comedy’ in Berlin’s Estrel centre.
"A wonderfully orchestrated solo album from Germany's very well known and treasured New Zealander".
'Sound of Music – Essen, Germany'
Denise’s most recent projects have been her Musical show, From Vienna to Broadway, a feature in ‘The Luring’ – an award winning short film from Alex Plumb – and performing the ‘Classical Jazz Cabaret’ to open the Sunday Concert Series to commemorate Auckland’s recognition as UNESCO World Heritage Music City for the Wallace Arts Trust.
Watch the Video below of Denise Norton and Mark Bradley's Classical Jazz Cabaret recital at Pah Homestead made for the Wallace Arts Trust.