We were lucky enough to catch up with the extremely talented and charming Tim Carroll to chat all things theatre, pre-show rituals and on stage mishaps in the lead up to the opening of Grease – The Arena Experience. 

When did you first develop an interest in theatre?

I saw Hugh Jackman in the Boy From Oz, and I was dragged to it kicking and screaming, but I was absolutely blown away that Wolverine was also Peter Allen shaking his maracas up on stage and grooving around in a silk shirt. I thought it was absolutely captivating and I loved that experience, so I started doing speech and drama after that.

How are rehearsals for Grease – The Arena Experience going?

We are having so much fun. Every day is just an absolute dream. We arrive and we just don’t know what to expect. Different challenges are thrown at us, and it honestly is just so thrilling to play this role and create something so spectacularly large. Also, the mass ensemble of 900 children is so special and I genuinely wish that that was a thing when I was a kid. I mean, I would have loved to perform alongside people like Dami Im, Meghan O’Shea and Drew Weston. 

Aside from everything else, my favourite part is working with Lauren McKenna. She is easily one of the most giving, caring, and talented performers I have ever met. It is such a joy to be partnered together in this show!

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Tim Carroll as Roger in Grease – The Arena Experience. Image provided.

What has it been like working with the mass ensemble?

Working with the mass ensemble is just absolutely breathtaking. To see so many talented, dedicated performers busting a gut on this show and seeing them give their absolute best to this production is inspiring. It honestly is a give and take thing – they inspire us and we inspire them, and it’s just really special.

What do you think audiences will take away from Grease – The Arena Experience?

I think they will take away a reimagined, exciting, and dare I say, groundbreaking version of Grease. This version is very much like a rock tribute to Grease. I mean, we’ve still set it in school, but then there are the alter egos of these characters. That is what is driving them to burst into song and move the plot forward, and so, there is some logic behind what is normally considered a superfluous and fun bubblegum musical. I think that’s really special and that element incorporates the mass ensemble really well, and, I mean, who doesn’t love going to a rock concert?

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I’m a very big believer in vocal rest, resting your body and just looking after your instrument. I like to take it easy during the day and then once I get to the theatre, I check the high note is there, and if it is, you know the rest is going to be fine. I do a light physical warmup, and if it is a piece with an accent, I like to do some trigger lines to check that everything is there. I like to check in with the other actors, and then just relax into it and have fun. If I have any nerves I try to change my mindset from nervous to excited, because at the end of the day, we get to do what we love to do, and that’s just so exciting to me.

What was it like working on Boys of Sondheim?

Boys of Sondheim is one of my favourite shows I have ever done. I am a big fan of Understudy Productions and what they’re trying to set up and do for actors in Queensland. The show was incredible because we were given these songs and then the roles were kind of written around us. You know, we aspire to be in shows like Kinky Boots and Wicked, but creating a role is just so special, intimate, vulnerable and exciting. Audiences embraced this show that no one had ever heard of, and to see the overwhelmingly positive response from audiences was so rewarding.

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Tim Carroll in Boys of Sondheim. Image by Joel Devereux. 

What’s your funniest onstage mishap?

The first time I did Blood Brothers, in a community theatre production, I committed to the death scene so much that I shattered my left knee cap and I had to lay there crying my eyes out for the finale, pretending to be dead. So I limped to the physio the next day and had to wear two sets of knee pads for the remainder of the run. Also, when I did HMS Pinafore I had sunstroke and fainted in one of the songs, and I had to be dragged off stage. But, you know, that’s live theatre, and I personally google Wicked bloopers all the time, so it’s all fun in retrospect. 

How do you know when a song is the perfect song for you?

I’m really picky with the songs I perform. I find that it has to speak to me on an emotional level and that I have to be able to find a part of me that can relate to what the character is going through. I also love a big note, so most songs with one I’ll give a red hot go. Also, [I love] finding a song that just doesn’t get stale; that you can do a thousand different ways, turn it on its head and still have a great reaction from the performance.

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Tim Carroll. Image by Sally Flegg. 

What is your advice for anyone wanting to pursue performance as a career?

My advice is to treat it like a career, and to take it as seriously as someone would if they were studying medicine or law. Stay ahead of the game, know what is coming up, keep the training fresh and understand that you can never stop learning anything. In saying all of that, though, [laughs] don’t take it too seriously and just be so excited that you get to do what you love to do. We can change the world with art and I just think that’s so beautiful.

To keep up with Tim, you can find him on Instagram @timothyjcarroll

For further information about Grease – The Arena Experience head to www.greasearenashow.com

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