Behind the Scenes with Luke Belle
Giuseppe Palmieri of The Gondoliers
Tell me about your character in The Gondoliers. What do you think of them? Do you have anything in common?
My character is Giuseppe Palmieri, he is the brother of Marco Palmieri. They are the rock stars of the Gondolier scene. All the contadine (the girls) want to be chosen to be the brothers brides so I guess you could say they are seen to be very handsome, masculine and the other gondoliers want to be them. I feel like when I'm playing Giuseppe I'm like one of the jocks from high school, which I was not at all! I was very quiet and kept to myself. What Giuseppe and I have in common is a sense of confidence, well, he is very confident and always has something to say. I have this in some elements of my life particularly at work. Being a waiter you have exude confidence and show the customer you know what you are doing.
Giuseppe is also the older brother, which adds some dimension to his character particularly interacting with his younger brother Marco. Whenever Marco is trying to be all cool and suave Giuseppe looks at him as to say 'man you have no idea! (haha) at least I like to think so! This is fun as Michael who plays Marco we have fun getting competitive. I'm also the older one in real life so this really works well for our characters, I definitely feel like the older brother.
What role would you love to play that you haven’t had a chance to as yet?
GOOD Question! Let's keep this G&S themed, I think Koko from The Mikado, I've heard it’s quite a wordy role! I played Jack Point in The Yeomen of the Guard which is very wordy and emotionally challenging. So I would love to give another wordy character a go. I would also love to play Jack Point again, I feel like I only scraped the surface with my character development. I also want to be in Disney musicals! Lumiere from beauty and the beast would be the BEST!
Who’s the funniest person in the cast?
I actually think Kristen Ryan who plays Gianetta is really funny her humour surprises me all the time, she always has a cheeky joke which I love because it is exactly my sense of humour! We did this question and answer activity to get to know one another and some of her answers were just amazingly hilarious!
Who in the show is most like the character they play?
I think Jenny Wakefield who plays the Duchess is most like her character. Jenny has a wonderful command of any space she walks into and is an all-round confident lady! She knows how it's done!
What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
The challenge of this role for me has been figuring out a vision for how I see Giuseppe, he is very nuanced so I'm still figuring this out. With some characters I instantly have an idea of how I want to play them, but this one is going to take time and experimentation, I honestly can't say what the finished product will be. This is nerve-racking but exciting.
If you could play any other character in this show, who would it be?
I think I would play the Duke (of Plaza Toro), he could be played in some many ways, I would love to put my own spin on him.
What do you want to be when you grew up?
I would love to be able to entertain people for a living whether it be singing or acting or even lame dancing, if I can make people laugh and take them out of their everyday lives for an hour or so, that would be the ultimate.
With some characters I instantly have an idea of how I want to play them, but this one is going to take time and experimentation.
When did you first perform?
My earliest memory of performing was at a school concert in Grade 2. We re-enacted famous nursery rhymes. I remember playing the spider from Little Miss Muffet and Humpty Dumpty, they were really over the top characters and I think I really committed to being over the top on stage as an 8 year old, now as a 27 year old I still apply that same commitment!
Besides this one, what’s your favourite stage show?
I would have to say the 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee. I love the music, and it is so funny! I also love that it is adults playing kids which adds a whole layer of hilarity!
Who do you look up to (as an actor/director/etc.)?
I really look up to my singing teacher Loris, she is so wise! She has taught me how to use my voice in how I sing and speak. For me voice comes first in a character, if I don't have this solidified I struggle to physicalise my character. Her methods of teaching have allowed my voice to naturally develop and build the muscles so that I can sing until I'm 90. I'm excited to see where my voice goes. THANK YOU LORIS!
I remember when I first met Loris she asked me what I want to do with singing, and I said I would like to be an opera singer. She quickly replied “Well, we will have to work on your body!” at the time I was a skinny boy of 22, I'm now 27 with slightly more muscle haha!
When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
I like to watch others rehearse, it gives me an idea of other parts of the show that I'm not in. If I'm not doing that, eating biscuits and chatting in the tea room. Or going over dance steps, it takes me a while to learn dancing but when I have it I fully commit to it like a boss!
What do you do when you’re not doing theatre?
Working full time as a waiter at The Kettle Black, and watching mountains of YouTube.
What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage / the curtain goes up?
Check my breathing, if I'm breathing well, I know my singing will be relaxed and will be ok!
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!