Behind the Scenes with Erin Towns
Tessa of The Gondoliers
Tell me about your character in The Gondoliers. What do you think of them? Do you have anything in common?
I’m playing Tessa and she was just an ordinary contadine (Italian peasant girl) until Giuseppe pulled her from the crowd and chose her to be his bride. She of course, is delighted to marry the most eligible gondolier in Venice! She’s so super sweet and sincere; I love playing her because she doesn’t have a cynical bone in her body. I don’t know if I have too much in common with Tessa, but I’d really like to be more like her. She’s just a charming character and very genuine.
What role would you love to play that you haven’t had a chance to as yet?
I think every mezzo-soprano has dreams of playing Cherubino from The Marriage of Figaro… and so do I! He’s just so dramatic!! Not to mention all that beautiful music.
Who’s the funniest person in the cast?
The funniest person in the cast is our musical director Tim Wilson. He accompanies all his jokes with an appropriate, individually selected theme song – which makes it really hard to keep a straight face!
Who in the show is most like the character they play?
I feel Kristen Ryan is most like her character – she plays my ‘sister in misfortune’ Gianetta. They’re both really lovely people, although real-life Kristen has a naughty-sense of humour which perhaps is lacking in Gianetta.
Who is least like their character?
I consider Luke Belle (Giuseppe) least like his character. In the beginning of the show, Giuseppe and his brother Marco sail down to the awaiting girls and serenade/ seduce all 24 of them at once! I couldn’t imagine Luke being so presumptuous, he’s really approachable and easy going.
Without giving anything away, what’s your favourite line from the show?
“A banquet and a dance – oh, this is too much happiness!”
What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
For me, the biggest challenge has been the dancing! If you like a good dance scene, then The Gondoliers is a show for you! I’m very lucky because my partner basically just guides me around the floor, but I’ve been practicing every day regardless.
If you could play any other character in this show, who would it be?
I’d really like to be Giuseppe! He’s like a Venetian rock star – and I think I would really enjoy being the centre of attention (although being his adoring bride is good too).
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When did you first perform?
I’m pretty sure it was my kindergarten nativity play. I don’t really remember it but I think I was an angel.
"I’d really like to be Giuseppe! He’s like a Venetian rock star"
Besides this one, what’s your favourite stage show?
Oh, there are too many! I love The Marriage of Figaro as I mentioned above, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, Wicked, and of course The Sound of Music.
Who do you look up to (as an actor/director/etc.)?
Without sounding cheesy, I really look up to my teacher, and my mother. My teacher Roxane Hislop has helped me so much since I’ve been with her, she’s not only a beautiful singer but a lovely person. My mother has been the biggest support to me not just as a singer, but in all of my endeavours. She always offers me wise counsel and makes sure I don’t run myself into the ground. But she’s a really strong woman and I really admire and love her a lot.
What do you do when you’re not doing theatre?
I work as a high school teacher at Loyola College in Bundoora – so that takes up a fair chunk of my time. I also like to go out with my friends, and watch TV in my pyjamas.
What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?
Pray! And breathe… and sometimes I panic because I can’t remember my first word but it always comes back in the moment. But really, I just take a few moments to think about the character, who they are/ what is going to happen, and how they are going to react. I imagine the scene and myself within it. I really like to visualise because it helps me to ‘get out of myself.’
GSOV presents The Gondoliers: one of William S Gilbert's & Arthur Sullivan's most entertaining and enduring collaborations, filled with toe-tapping tunes, fantastic dancing and romance aplenty in a far off sunny isle.
GSOV's latest production is a timely and witty reflection on the values of Monarchy and Republicanism and features seasoned performers from the worlds of opera, musical theatre and classic dance. A standout show from a much loved and venerable organisation, an effervescent event not to be missed!