Simon Gleeson

Directed by Andrew MacBean, Starting Here, Starting Now, will be performed in Melbourne for a very short season, expoloring the crazy little thing called love. In the lead up to opening night, Anna Lozynski spoke with the multi-talented Simon Gleeson about his success in the West End and his penchant for musical theatre.

Simon GleesonWhy should one go and see Starting Here, Starting Now?
The songs are endearing and very funny. I am also working with a very talented company, whose performers have been at the forefront of musical theatre both locally and overseas.

The show was first performed in 1976. How do you think the nature of relationships has changed since then?
I don’t believe the nature and essence of relationships has changed. The way we relate to each other certainly has shifted from the 70’s to something very sleek and streamlined. The multitude of questions prompted by the word ‘love’ in the show, are the same ones with which we will always wrestle. Drama lies in the not-knowing. That’s why ‘love’ is such great fodder for art and why the show remains relevant.

Tell us about your current rehearsal schedule for the show.
We have been learning the music for the last week. It’s deceptively difficult. The harmonies are close and intricate but it’s a lot of fun and sounds great.

What attracts you to musical theatre?
Its non-realism. There’s been such a surge towards realism, not just in TV but in theatre also. Actors have been corralled into depicting ‘the every-man’ so completely that we rarely get the opportunity to discover the extraordinary. Musical theatre inherently resists realism and naturalism and when it really works, it can offer something truly unique and magical. However, getting it to work is incredibly tricky. It is such a challenge to do well, which is also part of the attraction.

You have been said to have followed Hugh Jackman’s steps by moving from WA to London. What in fact inspired your move to the UK?
My wife, Natalie O’Donnell always wanted to see what it would be like to work in the West End so I followed her lead. I was lucky enough to be cast in a West End show before I left Australia. It was a great role in a new show called The Far Pavilions and I am still indebted to Gale Edwards for giving me that opportunity. It made it so easy to enter the UK industry.

Has your additional talent in musical theatre allowed you to better direct your career path?
Absolutely. Like in any business, it pays to diversify.

What was your most memorable achievement during your time at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts?
Actually turning up for dance classes.

Finally, how do you get ‘show ready’?
I go as far into the material as I can. Then I let it go.

Starting Here Starting Now opens at the Arts Centre, Blackbox, June 23, 2010. Further details»

Image Credits
Top Right - Simon Gleeson
Photo - Chris Parker

Most read features

Zuleika Khan

Welcome to the first in a series of interviews, Artists in Isolation, our first guest is cabaret superstar and front-line worker Zuleika Khan who shares her experiences as a theatre maker stuck in isolation and a nurse protecting the community.

Jake Matricardi

This week Heather Bloom chats to Jake Matricardi, an usher for the Marriner Group on his thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis unfolding in the theatre world.

Kearna Philpott

This week, Heather Bloom chats to professional dancer, Kearna Philpott who was on board the RCCL Spectrum of the Seas when the pandemic began.

Petra Kalive

After five years as Artistic Director of Union House Theatre, Petra Kalive joined Australia’s oldest professional theatre company in early 2020 having previously directed BeachedMelbourne Talam and Hungry Ghosts for the Company.

James Zala

As we continue our series investigating how artists and the arts industry is coping throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I travel (virtually of course) to the UK and speak with Flying Director James Zala from Flying by Foy.

Sign up for our newsletter

* indicates required