Molly shines by candlelight

Molly and her dad Simon Gleeson rehearse for Carols by Candlelight. Pictures: Ivan Kemp

Geelong teen Molly Gleeson was excited and nervous before joining her dad Simon on stage at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl in December.

Molly, 17, made her Carols by Candlelight debut on Christmas Eve alongside her dad in his 11th appearance.

“I’ve watched it on TV and from the audience multiple times, so it’s fantastic to be on stage and watch all the kids dancing, which is so cute,” she said.

“I love to sing and it’s nice to share that with others.

“It’ll be exciting, but I think I’ll be too busy thinking about the fact that I’ll have to go on stage…but I’ll just make sure I breathe, especially in the rehearsals, and get used to what it’s like on stage.”

Molly is following in her parents’ footsteps with her performing arts interests.

“I do lots of dance with contemporary and technique stuff, as well as teach little kids musical theatre, and that’s really fun,” she said.

“I reckon him (Simon) and mum (Nat O’Donnell) got me into singing as I’ve always watched them perform, so I suppose they’re probably my main role models.

“I would love to continue performing after Year 12 next year.

“I think that’s something that I’ll follow, and I’d like to take on. It’s going to be a challenge, but why not?”

Simon said he always enjoyed participating in the carols and seeing old friends, but performing with Molly he would “almost see it for the first time again through her eyes”.

“It’s such a beautiful occasion, and I did sing with my wife, Molly’s mum, about two years ago,” he said.

“That was the same, just getting up and seeing it all afresh through her eyes.

“You very rarely perform to an audience who are unanimously there for the same sort of joyful experience, so you get swept up on that instead of your own nerves.”

Molly is no stranger to Geelong Coast Kids. Angie Hilton caught up with the Gleesons – including Molly’s little brother, Rafferty – back in 2021.

At the time, Nat described a then-14-year-old Molly as vibrant, vivacious, and kind.

“Molly has aspirations to follow in our footsteps, but all we want for them is to be happy in what they do and find joy in their work, which is what we’ve been lucky enough to do,” Nat said.

– Jena Carr