Having been brought into Australian audiences consciousness after appearing as a contestant on Channel Ten’s I Will Survive, Brendan Hanson has been busy appearing in numerous musicals in Perth. His latest role will see him star as Rum Tug Tugger in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sensation CATS for ICW Performing Arts Association. Brendan took time out from rehearsals to chat with Aussie Theatre’s Perth correspondent, Craig Dalglish.
How did you become involved with ICW Performing Arts Association?
I was invited to play Jean Valjean last year by the creative team of Les Miserables, I had done the show before in two productions for Cameron Mackintosh and had played various students. It really felt like I’d finally grown up getting to play JVJ. I was honoured to be directed by John Milson who was my head of department at WAAPA when I was studying musical theatre.
What other productions for the association have you been involved in?
Earlier this year ICW produced Sondheim’s COMPANY at the Subiaco Arts Centre. Megalomania got the better of me as I played Robert, designed, choreographed and co-directed with Mark Barford who is also the director of CATS.
Your preparing to play Rum Tum Tugger in Cats. What makes a good cat?
I love cats, but am allergic to them, I’m much more of a dog person. Every cat is different, Tugger is described as being capricious, perverse and impossible to please. Mark told me I was the obvious choice to play Tugger, read into that what you will.
If you had to choose another Andrew Lloyd Webber musical to perform in what would it be, what character and why?
Tough question, I like Lloyd Webber’s earlier musicals and when I was younger I wanted to play Che in Evita and have a crack at Jesus in JC Superstar. Now I’m interested in the title role in The Phantom of the Opera. I think exploring his relationship with his two lovers – Christine and his music – would be an engaging journey to go on each night.
Who or what has been your greatest influence in your career?
My two fathers. My Dad had no idea what I was doing going to WAAPA to study performing arts, I was singing with WA Opera in my third year in The Magic Flute and Dad asked me if I was going to join a band when I’d finished my degree. Getting him to understand and approve of what I did was a huge motivating force in my early career. My theatrical Dad was John Milson and his encouragement and criticism and his example of the pursuit of excellence in what he called a craft not an art still motivates me. They are both gone now, and my sons are now my reminder to excel, set an example but most importantly have fun and be child like.
What is one of the most powerful lessons you have learnt in your time in the industry?
Create a life that satisfies, nourishes and stimulates you outside of the theatre. The life you have on stage is playing “pretendies” and for the most part is vain glorious. Finding a healthy life/work balance is really hard in our industry. It’s important to love what you do, but it’s not who you are.
What advice would you have for people entering the industry?
Being unafraid to fail and learn keeps you alive in this industry. I am always encouraging my students to develop within the boundaries of their confidence, but don’t fall into the delusion of believing you have nothing to learn.
What would be your dream role?
George in Sunday in the Park with George by Sondheim. Ironic after saying get a healthy life/work balance and that role is so obsessive and consumed by what he creates!
What is the hardest role you have had to prepare for?
The role of the Father in a contemporary opera called Into the Shimmer Heat by Nova Ensemble. The role sat above the stave for most of the opera and was fiendishly difficult musically.
What excites you about theatre in Perth?
It’s diversity, I think being so isolated has helped the theatre makers of Perth to find their own voice and their own way of telling their stories. It’s a tight knit community and we look to each other for inspiration. We have a thriving industry here and now thanks to Ian Westrip we have a local producer of large scale musical theatre.
What’s next after Cats?
It’s a busy time for me. I am currently writing a musical with Tim Cunniffe for Black Swan State Theatre Company, we are in the workshop process now. When Cats is finished I’ll be juggling my commitments at WAAPA and completing a draft of the musical. I’ll also go into preparation for Midsummer, a play with songs that I am performing for Black Swan at the Heath.
Regal Theatre – Subiaco
11 July – 18 July 2013
Tickets through Ticketek