A Quick Chat With Adèle Parkinson

Adèle Parkinson is one to watch. From Legally Blonde to Horrible Histories with a stint in the critically-acclaimed Squabbalogic production of Carrie in between, she’s a veritable force of musical theatre nature.

She’s about to appear with some serious musical theatre heavyweights – Tyran Parke, Shaun Rennie, and Kirby Burgess – in LOVEBiTES at the Hayes Theatre. Written by James Millar and Peter Rutherford, this is a homegrown musical theatre piece about love – and it gives you both sides of the story. We asked Adèle our questions, because we think you’re all going to want to know her very soon.

Shaun Rennie, Adele Parkinson, Tyran Parke and Kirby Burgess star in LOVEBiTES at the Hayes Theatre. Photo by Blueprint Studios.
Shaun Rennie, Adele Parkinson, Tyran Parke and Kirby Burgess star in LOVEBiTES at the Hayes Theatre. Photo by Blueprint Studios.

How would you describe yourself? Five words or less.
Blonde Australian Female High Belt

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An actor / singer / rich and famous. I thought they came as a package. I know better now.

What was your first theatre project – and how old were you?
I played Marty in Grease when I was 13 and it was the best time of my life. Fate sealed.

Best (or worst) onstage mishap?
Great question! This is my recent favourite: I toured with a show called Horrible Histories where I had some loosely scripted audience interaction which involved asking for a young audience member’s name. I’d ask them to spell it out, repeat it slowly and clearly so the stage manager heard then it would magically appear in huge letters on the wall behind me. Usually when I did this about 60% of the audience completely flipped out, I felt like Hugh Jackman in The Prestige. During one show though I just could not understand what the boy was saying. His whole family was simultaneously  spelling it out for me but that far from helped. It sounded “Taj” but he was giving me letters that sounded like ‘D’ or ‘B’ or ‘G’ ‘V’. It was a nightmare. I was praying that the stage manager (responsible for programming it in) could hear better than me but my prayers went unanswered. Up on the screen appeared PadhJ. His name was Tadgh. I wish I could say I remained professional throughout the ordeal but the truth is that I  completely dropped character and laughed so hard I barely got my lines out for the rest of that scene and the next. Luckily I had about 40% of the audience laughing with me.

What’s your favourite memory from Squabbalogic’s Carrie?
Smooching my onstage and offstage boyfriend Rob Johnson every night 😉

Who is your performer hero?
I worked with a company of hugely inspiring, experienced performers during Legally Blonde. I learned everything from their example and saw what it takes to maintain an eight show a week schedule.

Which five songs would you include in an “about me” playlist?
I shall answer this question using songs from the musical theatre canon as that is almost the only music I listen to:
Follies, “Broadway Baby” (one day…)
Sweet Charity, “I love to cry at weddings” (but not funerals)
The King and I, “I whistle a happy tune” (in theatres and get in trouble)
My Fair Lady, “I could have danced all night” (… I didn’t, though)
AIDA, “I know the truth” (PM me)

Name something on your bucket list.
Never die.

What was the last book you read and you loved?
Tuesdays with Morrie.

What was the last movie you saw and loved?
I recently saw Rust and Bone with Marion Cotillard. She’s sublime.

What was the last theatre piece you saw and loved?
I saw Toby Francis in Love and Death and an American Guitar at The Hayes Theatre last week and was completely blown away. Also may I just say that I am beyond excited to see Once!

What’s your life motto?
Fake it ‘til you make it.

What’s the best thing about Australian musical theatre?
That it exists! The talent within this country’s musical theatre community is of a supremely high calibre. Treading the boards with the inspiring people who make up our tiny industry is my idea of heaven.

What’s the worst thing about Australian musical theatre?
That there isn’t a stronger theatre culture in Australia.

Perfect way to spend a day off?
At the beach, reading, seeing friends, having a picnic or a combination of these.

Things you can’t live without?
Water, food, air and sleep are priorities 😉

Adele Parkinson in Adele Parkinson in Carrie. Photo by Michael Francis, Francis Photography.
Adele Parkinson in Adele Parkinson in Carrie. Photo by Michael Francis, Francis Photography.

What’s your favourite post-show snack?
I eat a lot of falafel and hummus but my favourite is and will always be Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt.

What was the best piece of career advice you ever received – and who gave it to you?
I was introduced to the world of music theatre by director Robert Young on the Gold Coast. Robert taught me that success is where preparation meets opportunity, based on his own experience of unexpectedly stepping in to the principal role with the NZ Ballet. I try to focus on the things that are within my power and trust that opportunities will present themselves when the time is right.

You worked on A Little Touch of Chaos, also by the LOVEBiTES team. What did you like about that show?
My year were so lucky to do one of James and Peter’s shows in second year at WAAPA. I had the opportunity of bringing to life a character who hadn’t existed previously and exploring her devastating life. However, during the last week of the production I broke my foot in a ballet class! I’d obviously misheard when Dad told me to break a leg. The show must go on!

Tell us all about LOVEBiTES.
LOVEBiTES is a four-hander: two male, two female. We investigate the nature of romantic love in a variety of circumstances. The combination of couples is mixed and matched throughout the show: no saucy lesbian scenes, though there is a threesome. It’s both highly amusing and deeply moving. Even if I weren’t in it, I’d recommend it as a must see!

LOVEBiTES will play the Hayes Theatre from September 10 – October 5. For tickets and more information visit http://www.hayestheatre.com.au

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.

Cassie Tongue

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