Glenn Hill: Rob Guest Endowment Finalist 2012

The much lauded Rob Guest Endowment annual concert will take place on 19 November 2012, where six finalists – emerging stars of Australian musical theatre – will take the stage to show their skills and compete for  the opportunity to study in New York under the guidance of the best that Broadway has to offer to the value of $10,000.

AussieTheatre will feature a short interview with each of the finalists in the lead-up to the concert, asking about their lives, careers, and how they’re preparing for the high-calibre event.

Glenn Hill

Cassie Tongue asked ten questions of each finalist. This time we get to know Glenn Hill, recently of Dr Zhivago and currently stealing scenes at Harvard in Legally Blondeat the Lyric in Sydney.

Tell us your favourite thing about being a performer.

There is something extremely addictive about the risk of live performance. There are no re-takes, and no second chances! The audiences expect to be taken away on a journey every show, and its our responsibility as actors to commit 100% to the stories and songs. I love the challenge of finding something fresh in each performance.

What made you apply for the Rob Guest Endowment process?

The Endowment Award is an amazing opportunity for performers to gain all important industry exposure, guidance and advice from the best in the biz, and ultimately the award offers financial assistance to further your training in the arts. I am 29 and have worked fairly consistently for the last 13 years. But i know that to take the next step into playing principal roles, there is still so much that i want to improve on. I have been lucky enough to work alongside some of Australia’s finest Musical Theatre stars and to watch and learn from them on the job has been amazing. The Endowment will help me continue my growth and assist me in stepping forward to showcase my skills. I had considered participating in the Endowment in previous years, but this year the timing was right and i felt like it was now or never.

How are you preparing for the upcoming concert? Any new rituals or routines?

For me, it’s all about choosing the right material that will really showcase my versatility and casting potential. So the hunt is on for the perfect songs and then once i have finally made up my indecisive mind, i will spend time really settling into the stories and where i sit within them. At the moment i am performing every night in Legally Blonde – The Musical which just opened in Sydney, so now its now a battle between performance schedule, understudy calls and Endowment rehearsal time. You gotta love being a busy actor!!!

You worked with Rob Guest in Jolson – The Musical. Tell us about the experience of working with him.

When I was offered the job in the ensemble of Jolson, I was so excited and absolutely petrified that I was going to be onstage with Rob. I had seen him play the Phantom, and to me he was it! I remember the first day of rehearsals, meeting Rob and the cast at the old Betty Pounder Studios in Sydney. It was so surreal, but he was incredibly warm and welcoming. I was the baby of the cast at 16 yrs old but he immediately treated me with respect and was nothing but supportive and generous. I couldn’t have asked for a better start in the industry and I will never forget watching Rob each night and feeling so appreciative to be a part of Aussie musical theatre.

Your character in Legally Blonde is really fun to watch. What’s the best part about being involved in the show?

I have the best time playing Aaron Schultz every night. We have only been open officially for a couple of weeks so i am still finding new things for him. After a show one day i had a little girl tell me that she thought i was really mean to Elle, but Aaron’s not a meanie!! He’s a softy with a lot of money and even more insecurities. I signed her program and we were friends again!! The cast of LB is seriously such an awesome group. Our visiting UK director Dominic Shaw would always say to us “there is no chorus in Legally Blonde“, and he’s absolutely right. Its honestly a collection of fantastic performers who each have their moment to shine. Its because of that, there is a deep respect within the company for each and every person’s contribution.

What’s your go-to, belt-it-out-in-the-shower song?

I absolutely love old school soul music, so i would have to say one of my all time fav’s is “Jealous Guy” by Donny Hathaway. Not musical theatre i know, sorry to disappoint!

What was the experience of performing in Doctor Zhivago like? Did you notice differences in the Australian and Korean audiences?

Dr Zhivago gave me the opportunity to work alongside more of the greats of Aussie Theatre. Anthony Warlow, Trisha Noble, Peter Carroll, Bartholemew John as well as the wonderful international director Des Mcanuff. To meet and work with Anthony was truly a career dream come true. I had grown up watching and idolising him and to get that opportunity was incredibly humbling. To build an original piece from the beginning was also a completely new experience for many of us, and proved to be an extremely rewarding process. The audiences in Australia embraced and adored Anthony and were very supportive and warm. It was a huge undertaking to stage a piece of theatre based on such a well known topic and film. But the audiences came along for the ride and were genuinely moved. When I was asked to travel to South Korea to assist in the staging of a Korean version of the show, I was intrigued as to how it would be received. But South Korean audiences are very emotional people and loved the romance and drama of the piece. The Korean cast was outstanding and it was, from all reports, a huge success.

[pull_left]Being Dance Captain is a job that i have enjoyed. It gives you a completely different perspective on a production, and it provides a real sense of satisfaction[/pull_left]

You’ve been Dance Captain for a few shows – Doctor Zhivago, We Will Rock You, Spamalot. What do you enjoy most about taking up that position?

Being Dance Captain is a job that i have enjoyed. It gives you a completely different perspective on a production, and it provides a real sense of satisfaction when you are set the challenge of maintaining a show. It can be tough, especially because at times I have been younger than many cast mates and i am standing there handing out notes to people who have been doing this longer than i have been alive! But I think part of the skill of being a good DC is gaining the respect of a cast, and paying respect to the cast at the same time.

Tell us about your most memorable moment in the theatre – as an audience member or performer.

If I have to pick one, I will say it was the moment I found out that I had been offered my first show. It all happened very quickly and as cheesy as it sounds, it was that amazing moment when my dreams actually became reality. I was in shock, i had a few tears, and then I started processing that my life was a about to change forever. I was 16, I left school, moved out of home and headed on tour with a bunch of thespians!! It was AWESOME….. but bloody scary!!! What were my parents thinking??!!

What’s number one on your “bucket list?”

I have done some pretty awesome stuff already!! I’ve been swimming with stingrays, climbed waterfalls in Jamaica, went to the top of the World Trade Centre in NYC, hiked across England from coast to coast and (something I never thought I would do but now highly recommend) skydived!!!! So i would have to say something like going on a serious Safari in Africa….. yeah…. that might be next!!

Previous Rob Guest Endowment interviews:

Euan Doidge 

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and is the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

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