Behind the Scenes with Nathan Michael Wright,
Frederic of The Pirates of Penzance
With dashing leading man looks and a swoon-worthy tenor, Nathan Michael Wright is an unlikely ingenu, and the sub titular “slave to duty” in GSOV’s next musical comedy blockbuster, The Pirates of Penzance.
Tell us what you’re discovering about your character Frederic, he seems to have conflicting alliances in the story! But above all sees himself as an “honourable” man who must uphold his “duty”. How do you plan to show that aspect to a modern audience?
Well, it's very interesting to get a second chance to visit a character. I suppose the main difference this time around is seeing how Frederic gets to interact with a Pirate Queen instead of King, and it's great fun to explore that dynamic. As for his alliances, much of his humour derives from the fact that he simply loves everyone and is very kind hearted, and has a very silly level of dedication to his idea of what constitutes his "duty," and I like to think that this stems from his sense of childlike enthusiasm and his tendency to romanticise anything he is involved with, whether it be piracy or trying to defeat piracy as a Soldier. He sees the world similarly to how a child might fantasise about heroism, and his naivety is what makes him so endearing.
Without giving anything away, what’s your favourite line of dialogue, and why?
It isn't dialogue, but my favourite moment in the show is "O' False one, you have deceived me." Not only is it Frederic's first song but its also a lot of fun to be so angry and at the same time so dramatic.
I hear there’s going to be some exciting fight scenes in this update of the iconic Pirates of Penzance, have you been training in preparation for some swashbuckling action?
I'm always trying to keep fit, especially as a singer and performer, and I think that is especially important when jumping around doing fight scenes while singing! We will also be undertaking sword fighting specific training, which I am especially excited about!
"He sees the world similarly to how a child might fantasise about heroism, and his naivety is what makes him so endearing."
You have quite a few musical comedies in your performance CV, are you more drawn to those productions? Is there a serious or more dramatic role you might like to tackle in the future?
Not really, actually. The majority of characters I have performed that could be considered comedic generally do not know they are funny, and the fact they take themselves so seriously is what is so easy to make fun of. However it's not a trend I have intended, and there are certainly some serious ones there too.
As for the future, I just keep my eyes open for things that spark my interest. I study Classical Voice at Melbourne University, and so I would love to move further and further into the world of Opera as I get older and see how my voice decides to turn out.
Is there a performer or creative you look to and admire?
I most admire my teacher, Tenor Peter Mander. I have studied with him for over 6 years and he still teaches me new things weekly. As for idols, I am an enormous fan of the enormous voice of Jonas Kaufmann.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not rehearsing or performing?
When I am not performing I am either working or studying. I work for IKEA and I study Music at the Conservatorium of Music, and when I have a spare moment you'll usually find me in the gym. Apart from that, good food and red wine doesn't go too badly.
Interview by Judith Clark
The Pirates of Penzance premieres at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre for a strictly limited season:
26th – 29th October. 5 shows only. Bookings & Enquiries: (03) 8470 8280
The Pirates of Penzance
Adventure on the high seas! Set sail for one of Gilbert & Sullivan's most popular hits, the irrepressible, irresponsible, but irresistible Pirates of Penzance!
In a world where steam is supreme... It's The Pirates of Penzance as you've never seen it before!
GSOV proudly presents a bold new vision of one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most popular hits, reimagined with inventive flair by director Nicholas Renfree-Marks, and featuring the magnificent GSOV live orchestra conducted by the incomparable Trevor Henley.
GSOV is the performing arm of The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Victoria which has been delighting audiences with its productions for over 80 years. One of the longest running theatrical organisations in Australia, it has been hailed as one of our country’s leading light opera companies. GSOV performs not only in Melbourne and regional Victoria, but has also won awards on the international stage at the premier Gilbert & Sullivan Festival in the United Kingdom.