If there's one thing people have needed during the pandemic, it's uplifting entertainment.
Enter stage left Kristie Winsen, who was born and bred in Newcastle, but has been living in London for more than a decade.
She started a regular free concert on Zoom with fellow musical theatre graduates and some West End professionals to help combat loneliness during the pandemic.
It's been about a year since her UPLIFT Musical Theatre concerts began. They now reach people in more than 25 countries, along with people in Newcastle.
"The UPLIFT concerts are designed to lift spirits," Kristie said.
At the start of the pandemic, she thought it would be great to do something to bring people some joy.
"Perhaps record a song and a little uplifting message, so that people would have some connection in their day. It was just a little idea," she said.
"Not long after that, a friend hosted a private Zoom concert for family and friends and I could see potential in the format."
She decided to organise and host a concert for friends and family with performers she knew.
"The whole experience was so connecting, entertaining and genuinely uplifting - both for the audience and the performers - that I've kept running them."
She has received many messages from people "letting me know that UPLIFT has been the boost that they've needed, that it's brightened their weekend, that it's cheered them up".
"I get to see in action the power of music, and musical theatre as a genre in particular, especially when combined with an inspirational ethos. We have a growing audience and a number of regular performers, so it's become like a global community."
The concerts are held on Zoom because "it's more personal and immediate than doing a livestream or pre-recorded concert".
"We encourage everyone to contribute comments in the chat, we unmute everyone after each song for applause, and we even have a dance break in the intermission and encourage everyone to get up on their feet.
"We put the households having the most fun up on the 'big Zoom screen'."
She's especially glad about the way UPLIFT has helped performers.
"We have managed to make it feel like an ensemble experience, even when everyone is alone in their own lounge rooms.
"There have been many new friendships made. And it's been unique in featuring performers from different countries and time zones in the one concert. We even have a cast after-party on Zoom, in lieu of the usual post-show night out."
She said it was "wonderful to attract a global audience".
"I am especially encouraged when local Newcastle people join us. We've had two performers sing live from their homes in Newcastle - Stephanie Priest and Teya Duncan - and that has been so special to me," she said.
"Even though I've lived away for a long time, I still consider and call Newcastle home and always speak with real fondness about my 'hometown'.
"At this time when it's so difficult to physically get back home, connecting with performers and an audience from Newcastle is really special."
Socially-distanced theatre is planned to open up again soon in London, government guidance permitting.
"Many musicals are planning re-opening dates in the UK summer or autumn and there are outdoor performances planned as well. There's been a lot of stop/start and a lot of moving dates, but there's also a lot of enthusiasm in London and I expect there will be much celebration when we are able to safely sit in a full theatre again."
Kristie lived just outside of London for a year when she was a child. She always wanted to return.
"I think the theatre in London was a big drawcard. But mainly at the time, like many young Australians, I wanted to travel and experience more of the world. Then I met my husband, who is a Londoner."
The pandemic has been tough.
"Even though I live in London, I miss London. Because we've mainly been confined to our houses over the past year, I miss this great and amazing city as it was before the pandemic," she said.
"It has been a difficult time for everyone in the United Kingdom. At the height of the waves of the pandemic, with so many deaths being reported each day, even the very air itself has felt heavy with despair.
"My nanna lived through World War II in Europe. Recalling her experiences has been very strengthening to me during this time. Comparative to what she went through, the practicalities of staying at home and watching Netflix are not so great a burden."
Before studying musical theatre at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, Kristie worked in marketing for large companies including Expedia.
"During the pandemic, I have been able to do some part-time marketing contract work from home, as well as start UPLIFT and continue my singing lessons over Zoom. I have also commissioned some new musical writing in my first venture as a theatre producer," she said.
"These things have enabled me to maintain some structure to my days at home, which has been a real help to my mental wellbeing during such a difficult time."
Kristie sings every lunchtime in the bathroom, where the acoustics are best.
"Belting out a few musical theatre hits always makes me feel better," she said.
Keeping in touch with friends and family in Australia has also been a lifeline.
"Doing Christmas on Zoom was certainly different, but we have made the best of it and I'm very thankful for technology that enables us to keep in continual contact."
One day, though, she will "walk along Redhead Beach again".
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