BY: Sally Bennett / Herald Sun
Hollywood star Pamela Anderson brought rehearsals to a standstill as she chatted online to the cast of Ghost Gum High.
Anderson was treated to a special preview of the original musical, which will be performed by the Shepp Shed project at Riverlinks Eastbank Centre.
"She was fabulous," project manager Janet Congues says.
"It wasn't about promoting herself, it was about being with the kids, hearing from them and talking to them.
"She really wanted to see their faces and to engage with them."
The Shepp Shed project is part of a movement to encourage creative brains from the world's top theatre districts to put on quality shows with troubled teens.
One of the drivers is Australian-born, London-based conductor and composer Warren Wills.
He and West End creative director Yamin Choudury are leading the way with Ghost Gum High, which was made possible through the backing of La Trobe University.
It was Wills who asked his good friend Anderson to speak to the Shepparton kids.
"Pamela is incredibly sincere about the work she does," Wills says.
"I told her what we were doing here and she wanted to know if there was anything she could do to support it."
About 70 youths from diverse cultural backgrounds are involved in Ghost Gum High.
The musical tells the story of William Cooper, an indigenous Australian who fought against injustice.
"As the composer I oversee it, but it's a real collaborative effort," Wills says.
"Our motto is diversity, inclusivity and quality."