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.

Kurt Phelan and the cast of Boys of Sondheim. Image by Joel Devereux.

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 keep up with Kurt you can find him on Instagram at @phelanit82 and on Facebook as Kurt Phelan.

To book tickets to Boys of Sondheim head to brisbanepowerhouse.org