AussieTheatre.com’s QLD Correspondent, Bobbi-Lea, caught up with actor Glenn Van Oosterom during his Brisbane pit stop on the tour of The Sum of Us, presented by Hit Productions.
AussieTheatre.com’s QLD Correspondent, Bobbi-Lea, caught up with actor Glenn Van Oosterom (pictured, far right) during his Brisbane pit stop on the tour of The Sum of Us, presented by Hit Productions. At 7:55 on an ordinary Friday evening, you would expect a working actor to have just heard their beginners call and be preparing for the performance ahead. However, instead of sitting in his dressing room, preparing for the show that night (Friday 16th September) at the Gardens Theatre in Brisbane, Glenn Van Oosterom gave me a an exclusive interview. The Sum of Us, presented by Hit Productions is currently touring the country. AussieTheatre.com’s James Stevenson reviewed the show in Sydney earlier this year (see review here), singing its praises and hailing it a “must see”. Having also toured to both capital cities and various regional areas across Australia, the cast and crew of this show are used to getting on with the show. This particular evening, however, there was no show…
Bobbi-Lea: I just love theatre gossip. So what’s happened to one of the cast members?
Glenn: Well, our gossip is not as sassy as you might hope, but one of the guys, Patrick, who plays Jeff, actually is in the hospital as we speak, waiting for the results to see if he has a problem with his appendix.
Bobbi-Lea: So the show doesn’t always go on?
Glenn: Ah well no, it does eventually, but it might not go to schedule. We’re calling it, a rest and relaxation period. We’ll get to relax and Patrick needs to rest because he could be in serious trouble.
Despite a reasonably trouble-free tour for four months, when problems hit this small cast (with no understudies), the going gets tough. “We also have the stage manager being ordered to take some time off because she’s got an infected foot. So I guess the best thing is that, you know, they happened at the same time but worse thing is that these things tend to happen in threes. So, I’m just doing my best to keep out of trouble”, says Glenn. “Many things have happened, we have had cast changes; all sorts of things. I was actually not the original actor to play the role of Greg. It was actually someone else but then he pulled out [and] last December I auditioned. So I guess it’s one of the things where we, as a band of seven people, need to find a way to perform and make things work and problem solve along the road. And we have to do that independent of the production company – they can’t help us out every time. We need to figure it out ourselves. It’s a nice change really”, he said. With only four actors in the cast, I was intrigued as to the roles of the other three touring staff…
Bobbi-Lea: So there are four actors in the cast, but there are seven on the road. So what are the positions of the other three?Glenn: So we’ve got three crew members. We have the stage manager, which is Amy Cook and she organises most of our day-to-day things and all the publicity and supervises the bump in and bump out. The next is our lighting technician, which is Jessica Watson. She liaises with the theatre and organises the lighting and then runs the lights on the night. And then there is Warren Bolton, who is our mechanist. He deals with the props on the set, builds the set, fixes anything that needs to be fixed He’s the man who drives the truck.
As a touring production, it is inevitable that the company will perform in an array of different theatres, with a whole range of facilities. Glenn explained that this roving lifestyle is more a blessing than a curse: “The venture of changing theatres makes sure we stay on our toes. So when we get to the theatre, we’ll get shown around to our dressing rooms, our entrances and exits, which sometimes can change drastically. Then we stand on stage and we deliver some dialogue. We then basically go about doing our warm up routine, which starts about 6:30. We get our iPods out and we crank up the music and we skip, do push ups, squat etc. We do whatever fitness routine and it gets us focused and awake and present for the day”, he said. He also explains that, while the team are very well rehearsed and understand the show intimately, changing venues sometimes adjusting the furniture. This often brings spontaneity back into the show: “You have to improvise with whatever is there”, he laughs.
Bobbi-Lea: Now, you’re touring with some very well-known actors. Can you run us through the cast?Glenn: Well, we begin with John Jarratt. He’s very well-known for Wolf Creek, McLeods Daughters, and Better Homes & Gardens. And then there’s Patrick Harvey, who was Connor, the Irish man on Neighbours. He was, as he keeps reminding us, the 2003 Logie winner but it was halfway through the tour that John burst his bubble and said, “Well I actually have 5 Logies to my name”. Patrick was walking around thinking he’s the only one with a Logie. So John ruined that for him.Bobbi-Lea: Does he carry it with him, in his bag? Everywhere he goes… is it on tour?Glenn: Yes. Well he actually let the crew members carry it around. Because he himself, he prefers it to have it follow him. So people go, “Is that Patrick Harvey, the 2003 Logie winner?” and then the Logie walks past.Bobbi-Lea: It probably gets you the good table at all the cafes.Glenn: Oh yeh, and the other cast member is Nell Feeney. She’s also on Winners and Loses and is about to go shoot a couple of scenes when we go back to Melbourne for a couple of days. And she’s also well-known for being on Neighbours for many years. She’s hilarious. So they’re all really well-known and I’m lesser-known so people often think I’m with the crew. Bobbi-Lea: But not less of an actor.Glenn: Thank you.
The Sum of Us continues its national tour until 12 November, 2011. For more information about tour dates and times, check out their Facebook Page