A Quick Chat With Adam Guettel

Adam Guettel
Adam Guettel

In New York City – the home of modern musical theatre – performers and artists are exposed to workshops, masterclasses, concerts and (of course) a multitude of major Broadway shows every single day.

Australian musical theatre performers can often count on one hand the major musical auditions they are lucky enough to attend each year. Even more rarely are they afforded the chance to work with artists who are living and breathing musical theatre on the Great White Way. So, it is incredibly exciting that Australia will be hosting one of Broadway’s cherished composers this month for a series of master classes AND concerts. (Applause).

The grandson of composer Richard Rodgers (of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame), Adam Guettel will be commencing his Australian tour in Sydney this week and we snatched some time with him to chat about his hopes for his Aussie bender! 

Was music an inevitable career path for you, or did you have the usual “I’m going to be a fireman/accountant/get a real job” panic at any point?

Music for me was inevitable, but musical theater was decidedly not. I loved to sing and started to write at 14, played in bands, etc, but writing for the theater just seemed like a disastrous idea. No way was I going to put myself in that position. Well, here I am. I love my job. I do like the fireman idea, though.

Who have been the most inspiring people in your life?

I.M. Pei, Louis Kahn, Vincent Scully, Jane Jacobs, Stravinsky, Stevie Wonder, Adam de la Halle, Harry Nilsson, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Steve Jobs, Bjork, Korngold, Benjamin Britten, William Inge, Sondheim, Jody Williams, Marvin Gaye…

I don’t know, how much time do you have?

How do you come around to commencing the writing process? A broad story idea first? Music first or lyrics?

I write last. It sounds corny but I feel first. Then if I can get the audience to feel something like what I felt at first then the impulse survived. Music before lyrics always.

What are you looking forward to most about your trip to Australia? 

I spend so much time alone writing that I absolutely love people when I get to be with them. I lap them up. I binge on them. I’m looking forward to a good binge in Australia. A real bender.

[pull_left]I absolutely love people when I get to be with them. I lap them up. I binge on them. I’m looking forward to a good binge in Australia. A real bender[/pull_left]

What is the format of the masterclass?

Teaching is always a net gain for me. I always come out of there floating. But what are we going to do exactly? Who knows? That’s why it’s so much fun. I listen for an artist’s signature and try to help him or her meet the character organically. Usually, certain technical adjustments can help get us there. For instance, singing is athletic. It’s incredibly athletic, unless you’re Blossom Dearie or Chet Baker or something. Sometimes a singer just needs to be reminded, to be re-activated.

Tell us a little about your new works which Australian audiences will hear selections from during your tour.

Well MILLIONS is just a wonderful story about two boys who’ve lost their mother, and their father who’s lost his wife – the most important person in their lives. It’s about how they un-break their hearts. They sing their way out. It’s full of Saints and cherubs and stuff. I’m into people trying to be good – on stage, at least. I think all this irony in musicals is a crashing bore and deeply safe. DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES is a deep love story with the most brutal obstacle ever invented. Those two are on the front burner. There may be a few other new things from other projects.

7. Do you have a favourite piece of yours to perform?

If the evening is going well, I love to sing everything. It really is a privilege to perform for people.

Adam Guettel is in Australia thanks to Your Management International. For tour dates and booking information, see below. 

SYDNEY

Adam Guettel in Concert
Thursday 6th June at 7.30pm

Slide Lounge: 41 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW
Tickets and full details: www.slide.com.au or (02) 8915 1899

Public Master Class
Sunday 9th June at 1pm

The Australian Institute of Music: 1-51 Foveaux St, Surry Hills NSW
Tickets and full details: www.moshtix.com.au or 1300 438 849

ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL

Adam Guettel in Concert
Saturday 22nd June at 1pm

The Banquet Room: Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide SA
Tickets and full details: www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au

Public Master Class
Saturday 22nd June at 11am

The Artspace: Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide SA
Tickets and full details:www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au or 131 246

MELBOURNE CABARET FESTIVAL

Adam Guettel in Concert
Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th June at 7.30pm

Chapel Off Chapel: 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran VIC 3181
Tickets and full details: www.melbournecabaret.com or 03 8290 7000

Public Master Class
Sunday 30th June at 12pm

Chapel Off Chapel: 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran VIC 3181
Tickets and full details: www.melbournecabaret.com or 03 8290 7000

Erin James

Erin James is AussieTheatre.com's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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