We were lucky enough to catch up with Australian leading man Kurt Phelan to chat all things theatre and Boys of Sondheim; currently playing as part of Melt Festival at the Brisbane Powerhouse.
When did you first develop an interest in theatre?
When I was three I saw Singin’ in the Rain and turned to my mum and told her I wanted to be Gene Kelly. I suppose I come from a bit of a theatrical family; my uncle is a professional actor so from a young age I knew it was possible to do for a living. I never had anyone tell me to get a real job. My sister used to dance and I used to sit in the car and would copy everything, so Mum and the teacher put me in the kids class, I fell in love with tap dancing, started doing all of these musicals and that’s how it all started.
Can you tell us about Boys of Sondheim?
Well, I think Boys of Sondheim is really different for everyone who is in it. But quintessentially it is a whole bunch of Sondheim songs that are mostly sung by women. I think it’s a celebration of his music; he writes such prolific songs and a lot of time it’s hard to stage it without the context of the entire show so I think this a great way to celebrate his work and also give people a way into his music. Of course, being in Melt Festival it’s about these male characters struggling and trying to be complete human beings which I think a lot of his work is about. It’s very much about trying to find your place in the world. It really is a cabaret that takes you on a journey through his songs.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
It really does change from show to show. When I was in Dirty Dancing I had heaps and it was really about warming up. However, I do like to stir people up. You normally get an hour call so around that time I like to really get the dressing room fired up and then when the half hour call comes I disappear and listen to music and focus. I just love doing that.
What do you think audiences will take away from Boys of Sondheim?
I think a greater appreciation for Sondheim’s music but also I think they’ll really enjoy watching and hearing the talent and the technique of my fellow performers. I think the best thing is that audiences won’t have a preconceived idea or know what’s in store and they will leave very pleasantly surprised.
To book tickets to Boys of Sondheim head to brisbanepowerhouse.org