Talented Adelaide performer, Lindsay Prodea, is very much in demand at the moment, with his latest role being that of John in Lydian Productions’ presentation of Andrew Lippa’s John & Jen, starring opposite Katie Packer. Glam Adelaide talked with Lindsay about him and his thoughts on this Adelaide premiere..
B.G. Hi Lindsay. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into performing.
L.P. I started performing about 13 years ago in my final year of high school at The Norwood-Morialta High School. I have always played musical instruments (piano and then trombone!) but started singing when I was 17, with lessons from the wonderful Brian Gilbertson. I have since also been singing with David Gauci over the past few years, who has truly inspired me and pushed me to believe in myself; showing me that you can achieve anything if you work hard enough! My first amateur theatre show was HMC’s 42nd Street, in 2004, where I worked my feet raw to learn tap dancing in three months. For several years after that I did as many shows as I could with as many different companies, watching and learning from back row of the chorus & having the opportunity to play smaller roles opposite some wonderful performers. Since then, I have been very grateful to those who have given me the opportunity to play some wonderful “leading man” roles over the past 3-4 years, such as Sonny Malone in Xanadu, Fabrizio Nacarelli in The Light In The Piazza, Elliott Garfield in The Goodbye Girl and Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby, which was my first non-musical.
B.G. You mentioned learning to tap for 42nd Street. But you have since had to learn other specific skills for some of your more recent roles, haven’t you?
L.P. That’s right! I have had to learn roller-skating for Xanadu, Italian for The Light In The Piazza, and guitar for Flowerchildren: The Story Of The Mamas And The Papas.
B.G. Have these learning experiences influenced your role choices in any way?
L.P. Yes! These days, now that I have to balance theatre with work, I am much more discerning and only commit to a show if I believe I will be challenged and I will learn something; I have always believed that you should always work with people better than you!
B.G. Just out of interest, what is your ‘day job’?
L.P. In my non-theatre life, I work for a local pathology company, and spend my time driving around to medical centres and hospitals to provide education and support to the medical community. It doesn’t have the audience applause like performing has, but it pays the bills!
B.G. Tell us about John & Jen.
L.P. John and Jen is a story about family relationships, spanning almost 40 years from 1952 to 1990 and the turmoil throughout. The show is very cleverly written, with the focus on the relationship between a brother and sister in the first act, and the relationship between a mother and son in the second act. In both relationships, we see the impact of growing up in different times and places as the characters move into and out of each other’s lives.
B.G. Tell us about playing John.
L.P. I play the role(s) of John Tracy, or rather, John the brother and then John the son. The journey of the show focuses on Jen & her relationship with her brother, and later, with her son. I get to play a five-year-old child all the way up to adulthood, and then I get to do it all over again a generation later! What is fascinating is seeing the struggles that Jen goes through while she’s growing up, and then seeing history repeat itself with her son 30 years later.
B.G. The show sounds intriguing. What are your thoughts about it?
L.P. I find the story very touching and I think everybody will be able to relate to one of the characters, or a family relationship. It’s amazing fun portraying a child, but also a challenge as the composer and writer are asking the audience to suspend their disbelief. Vocally, the show is probably the most difficult I’ve ever attempted in 13 years. Consequently, there have been countless hours sitting at the piano and working on vocal technique in preparation. But who doesn’t love a challenge?
B.G. What are your thoughts on working with Martin Cheney, Karen Sheldon and Katie Packer?
L.P. I was so humbled when Martin asked me to consider joining him on this adventure. We have worked on shows where I have been on stage (and him under the stage!) but never in a production team capacity. I am so proud with what he has achieved and his attention to detail. It’s a difficult challenge to be one man production team and a musical director at the same time. I have worked with Karen both on stage (in Urinetown) and as my director for Into the Woods in 2012. I have loved her collaborative approach for this show, with a clear vision but also giving us room to move and take ownership of our roles. Katie is absolutely wonderful to work opposite as Jen, and I can’t imagine anybody else in the role. She makes a wonderful big sister and a wonderful mother (I’m not sure how she feels about the latter)! She is an incredibly generous actress, which makes her so easy to work opposite. I first worked with Katie earlier this year in The Light in the Piazza, and I will always be in awe of her portrayal of Margaret.
B.G. Lindsay, thank you for chatting with me.
L.P. My pleasure.
Performances: October 6, 8, 11, 13 and 15 @ 8pm October 9 @ 3pm
Where: Concordia College Drama Centre, 24 Winchester Street, Highgate.
Tickets: Adult $32 / Concession $27 / Child (under 12) $22
Bookings: trybooking.com/LUOQ (general admission)
Interview by Brian Godfrey