Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July 12. Day 193. The Life of Bryan

Bryan Probets is looking remarkably calm. He's costumed and mic-ed up, ready to take to the stage in the first orchestra rehearsal of Ruddigore. It's true that he has performed Gilbert and Sullivan before - but the Modern Major General in a high school production of Pirates of Penzance doesn't really stack up against an Opera Queensland role. It's also not how Queensland audiences are typically used to seeing Bryan.
Since he won the Media Alliance award for the best emerging artist in the early 2000s, Bryan has been a regular on the Brisbane stage with a list as big as a phone book of performances for our major theatre companies including Queensland Theatre, La Boite and shake n stir. But the winner of the 2012 Gold Matilda Award for his contribution to theatre in Brisbane is a relative newcomer to Opera. Two years ago he debuted for Opera Queensland in Candide and last year backed up in the semi staged concert of Kiss Me Kate. 
"It's terrifying. I don't often venture into singing," Bryan admits. But sitting on a couch in the closed Russell Street Bar outside Playhouse at QPAC, Bryan looks relaxed and says he's enjoying the challenge of Opera, admitting that mixing it up guarantees against becoming bored or complacent. His lead role in Opera Queensland's Ruddigore, or the Witch's Curse will leave no room for complacency. His character is the Baronet of  Ruddigore who has dodged the witch's curse by disguising himself as a shy law-abiding gentleman farmer Robin Oakapple. But he is exposed and the curse dictates he must commit a dastardly crime every day. Almost as dastardly as the crime is that the role charges Bryan with delivering almost all of the infamous Gilbert and Sullivan rapid-fire, tongue-tripping patter songs in Ruddigore. Despite the demands, Bryan says the rehearsal period was less onerous than he expected coming from straight theatre. "I find it's a bit more casual. The hours are a bit more truncated. Sometimes you might have a day off because they are rehearsing the chorus whereas in the theatre if you have a a five and a half week contract rehearsing a show you are there pretty much all day, every day sometimes six days a week."
Not that anyone is taking it easy. "In the hours we are allotted, we go pretty much hell for leather."
He says audiences can expect a wild ride, adding that Ruddigore is one of G&S's "sleeping treasures".  "It's very clever. The writing is very witty. It's Goon Show meets Monty Python, meets Spike Milligan. It's very left of centre."
Bryan says Ruddigore has been designed with a cartoon-like feel, is performed in English and is aimed at everybody.
"It's very accessible and not staid or traditional. It's fun. It's cutting edge."
Ruddigore by Opera Queensland opens at The Playhouse at QPAC on Friday and runs until July 29.
You can hear the full interview with Bryan Probets on our podcast.

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