We catch up with Hugo Chiarella – actor, singer and co-creator (book and lyrics) of Dreamsong, a new Australian musical which will be presented at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Fairfax Studio as part of a new music theatre initiative called Carnegie 18.
1. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a set designer for a long time. I was/am a big time music theatre nerd. My childhood hobby was building the sets from the shows I’d been to see. No one could build a balsa wood barricade like I could!
2. Who is the most important person in the world to you?
My girlfriend, Gabrielle! She makes life a whole lot livelier. And my Mum of course, but that goes without saying.
3. What animal best represents you and why?Probably a beaver, I like to keep to myself, I enjoy occupying myself in work, and I have extremely good teeth.
4. If you were a contestant on Deal or No Deal, how much would you need to be on offer before you walked away?
Enough to cover my rent.
5. What was the first piece of theatre/film/TV you ever appeared in and how old were you?
Jesus Christ Superstar for the Forest Youth Theatre Company. I was 12 years old and they created a role especially for me: “Pilate’s Boy”! I had purple hair and purple tights and I spent the entire show standing behind Pilate being as still as I possibly could. I took it very seriously.
6. Windows or MAC?
Mac. It’s been five of the sweetest years of my life since I made the switch and I’m never going back again.
7. Favourite food?
Macho Nachos from Fiesta on Toorak Rd, South Yarra. Try it!
8. Who is the actor you would most like to work alongside?
This is a tough one. I’m not good at meeting people I admire. I always try and play it cool so I don’t come across as sycophantic, but then I end up playing it too cool and I just come across as aloof and unimpressed. So to answer the question, I’d really like to work with Stephen Fry because I think he’s a genius, but I’d probably just end up insulting him, so maybe I’d be better off picking someone I don’t admire… like the guy who does the voiceover in the Rivers ads.
9. What five songs would be the first you put a mix tape?
Home – by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Mother We Just Can’t Get enough – New Radicals
Bat Out of Hell – Meatloaf
Baila Me – The Gipsy Kings
Your Party – Ween
That’s a party right there!
10. What is the best thing about theatre in Australia?
Getting employed in it.
11. What’s the worst thing about theatre in Australia?
Not getting employed in it.
12. Name one moment when you looked around, breathed happily and felt content.
Christmas Day 2011. Right as the food came out.
13. Where is the most interesting place you have travelled?
India. I had an uncomfortable encounter with an Ayurvedic Masseuse that would not be appropriate to recount here, but if anyone’s interested, come see the show and I’ll tell you in person afterwards.
14. Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?
It’s a tie between Topol and Alan Jones. They’ll have to wrestle for the title…. Now that I’d pay to see.
15. Most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you onstage?
I did a kids show that was all timed to musical tracks. There was no tech crew so it was up to the actors to cue the music during the show. One day the system was playing up and kept bringing all of the tracks in at random times through the show. So we would be in the middle of a scene and suddenly have to start singing because the music had kicked in.
The hour show went for about twenty-five minutes that day and made no sense whatsoever. With the exception of the massage in India (see question 13) it was probably the longest twenty-five minutes of my life.
16. What’s your life motto?
“You stop worrying about what people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.”
17. What’s your favourite post-show snack?
(Please see question 7)
18. What’s your biggest phobia?
19. What is the worst date you’ve ever had?
There’s been a lot to choose from… I had to reschedule a date once because my father passed away the night we were supposed to meet. We met up again a few weeks later, but I suspect I came off a little depressing.
20. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still trying to think of a response to this question that doesn’t sound either pessimistic or arrogant.
Dreamsong – an irreverent musical satire of faith, fortune and the mega-church – will be presented at the Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
6 & 7 Feb at 8.00pm, 4 Feb at 8.00pm, 5 Feb at 4.30pm
Visit theartscentre.com.au to book tickets