Barry Conrad, a well-established and extremely talented singer/songwriter has recently brought his talents to Musical Theatre stages of Australia. We were lucky enough to chat to Barry to talk all things theatre and more.
When did your passion for music start to develop?
I grew up in a very musical family. My Dad played guitar and sang. My Mum recorded an album with her church gospel choir. So music has been around me from a really young age and because I’m super mixed, My Dad is African-English and my Mum is German-Indonesian we had a lot of different styles of music in the house so I’ve always had a really good diet of music and I love all kinds.
How did you get involved with Violet?
I was really hesitant for ages to do musical theatre. Only because I had a lot of mates doing it and it was amazing but it was these long contracts and I think it scared me a little bit. But my agent told me to have a look at this show and that it was a shorter run and I saw the brief and the character Flick really appealed to me. I saw a lot of similarities in this character and qualities that I wanted for myself personally. The story is so special and resonated with me straight away. I emailed my agent back within five minutes saying yes I’m auditioning. It was a shorter run so I saw it as a good chance to see if I liked musical theatre and I loved it. It felt so natural. I was expecting to feel this conflicting ‘I shouldn’t be here feeling’ but I actually loved it.
What was your experience of doing your first musical in such an intimate space as The Hayes like?
It was so intimate and small. Literally the front row is right in front of you like on the same level. It was such a good first experience because I had to focus on the craft. I couldn’t really hide behind any lighting or sets or anything like that. I had to really put the work in. As a singer/songwriter I had to really put Barry Conrad aside and become Flick in that world. It was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
How was it going from playing Flick at The Hayes to then playing Seaweed in Hairspray in a massive arena?
It’s like chalk and cheese. It was so different. I didn’t know it was going to happen in the initial processes because they both overlapped. I was doing the last couple weeks of Violet and that was the first two weeks of rehearsals for Hairspray. So I would perform and then I would fly to Brisbane and rehearse on my days off with the Hairspray cast and then fly back halfway through Tuesday to do Violet that night. I didn’t know who I was. It was like am I Seaweed right now? Am I flick? I don’t know? [laughs]. But when I was in Hairspray it was pretty crazy with the massive set, the 900 strong mass ensemble and I was learning and still am taking notes as I go. Getting to work with people like Simon Burke, Christine Anu, Wayne Scott Kermond, Dan Venz, Lauren Mckenna – they’ve been in this world for a lot longer than me so I’m loving it.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
My regime is that I steam my voice every single day before a show and do vocal training and make sure I centre myself and get into the zone – not be Barry Conrad and be the character. Also keeping it light and not being too intense about it. Having a laugh with your cast and keeping yourself out of your head. If you think too much then you don’t enjoy it – you’d be watching yourself like a bird’s eye instead of being in the moment. I think that when I can’t remember everything I did then I was in the moment and it was what it was meant to be.
Have you discovered any dream roles that you’d like to play?
As random as it sounds – I wouldn’t actually mind playing Fiyero in Wicked. I think that would be a great role. It would be so much fun. Also, I think Hamilton – now that I’m finding out more and more about the show I think something in that would be really cool.
Would you be able to explain the BCS movement?
I kind of came up with the acronym [from my initials] and it stands for Bring Change Somewhere. I wanted to make a movement that was about making a difference in peoples’ lives. All it is is whatever your expression of change looks like, whether that be you can help people financially or you can encourage someone that isn’t the popular go to person that everyone hangs around with. Whatever your expression of change is is really valid and worth a lot. You’re making a difference in your world.
You can catch Barry performing next at the Channel Seven Brisbane Racing Carnival this coming week.
You can also head to http://www.hairsprayarenashow.com for all ticketing details for the next stops on the Hairspray Arena Spectacular Tour.
Make sure you keep up to date with Barry by following his instagram @barry_conrad or head over to his Facebook http://www.facebook.com/barryconradofficial
Written by Jackie Turner