James Lee has been performing professionally on the Australian stage for more than two decades. A cabaret and musical theatre performer, voice-over artist and director designer Lee has worked extensively and solidly in the performing arts for most of his adult life.
No stranger to life upon the wicked stage, Lee has appeared in the Australian productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, 42nd Street, The Phantom of the Opera (twice), Jerry Springer the Opera and many, many others.
He was nominated for a Sydney Theatre Award (Best Actor in a Musical or Cabaret) for his performance as Molina in Kiss of the Spiderwoman and is currently appearing in GFO’s latest revival of Annie at the Regent Theatre, Melbourne.
We ask James our 20 Questions…
1. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Always wanted to perform. At first ballet or dance of some kind but upon seeing a musical on stage knew that is what I wanted to do. Ironically it was Annie in 1979
2. Who is the most important person in the world to you?
I would have to say my mum, she keeps me grounded.
As much as someone can be in this industry
3. What animal best represents you and why?
In Chinese astrology I’m a monkey and think it does represent me a lot. Cheeky, playful and a kid at heart
4. If you were a contestant on Deal or No Deal, how much would you need to be on offer before you walked away?
$20,000 but $50,000 would be perfect
5. What was the first piece of theatre/film/TV you ever appeared in and how old were you?
Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at 9 years old – the 15 minute version. I was an Ishmalite dancer!!
6. Windows or MAC?
(formerly Windows but as the saying goes “once you go mac you never go back”)
7. Favourite food?
Great roast lamb dinner
8. Who is the actor you would most like to work alongside?
Overseas: Kristin Chenoweth
Australian: Tony Sheldon (although he is now O/S
9. What five songs would be the first you put a mix tape?
Life – Desiree
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – Roberta Flack
One Day More – Les Miserables Cast Album
Till We Reach That Day – Ragtime the Musical
Magic Flute Overture – Magic Flute
10. What is the best thing about theatre in Australia?
Our work ethic and the fact that it’s small enough to keep working, most of the time, with friends.
11. What’s the worst thing about theatre in Australia?
Not enough of it. And the fact that sport rules for most Australians.
12. Name one moment when you looked around, breathed happily and felt content.
Any one of the first days of rehearsals I have been lucky enough to enjoy.
13. Where is the most interesting place you have travelled?
Performing with the corporate act The Three Waiters has taken me to many interesting places around Australia NZ and Asia. Staying at Raffles for three nights was a highlight.
14. Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?
Carol Channing or George Michael
15. Most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you onstage?
Walked onstage having just wiped my brow with a 2 ply tissue during 42nd Street and left one of the ply on my head. I couldn’t see it but , trust me, the rest of the cast in hysterics and audience could. William Zappa, in character, walked over and removed it.
16. What’s your life motto?
17. What’s your favourite post-show snack?
A beer. Food wise, probably cashews.
18. What’s your biggest phobia?
Never finding true love
19. What is the worst date you’ve ever had?
It was blind date set up by friends who thought we would be perfect for each other. We weren’t in anyway. DISASTER.
20. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Still performing, being a character actor (I’m finally getting to the age I feel most comfortable with). Maybe here in Australia, maybe NYC. Who can say. Also would love to direct more.