Daniel Belle talks about his role in Hayes Theatre’s Side Show and his experience as a finalist in the inaugural Rob Guest Endowment Awards

  • Kat Czornij
  • September 25, 2016
  • Comments Off on Daniel Belle talks about his role in Hayes Theatre’s Side Show and his experience as a finalist in the inaugural Rob Guest Endowment Awards

Fresh from covering the role of Jean Valjean in the recent national production of Les Misérables and previous international tours as a member of The Ten Tenors, Daniel Belle is now taking on the role of ex-vaudeville talent scout and agent Terry Connor in Hayes Theatre’s Side Show. We caught up to chat about this premiere production and his experience as a finalist in the inaugural Rob Guest Endowment Awards.

Can you talk a little bit about this latest production of Side Show and your role in the show?

This production of Side Show is an Australian premiere. The show has had a few rewrites and played on Broadway in 2014. It’s being headed up by One Eyed Man Productions with Richard Carroll taking both a producing and directing role. The show centres around the Hilton sisters who were conjoined twins. I play the role of Terry Connor. A ex vaudeville talent scout and agent looking to break back in to the big time Terry has questionable motives but is convinced these twins will be the next big thing. Our production contains the glamour to be expected from the vaudeville era but also presents the grimy world of freak shows really effectively.

What do you think it would be like befriending or even dating a conjoined twin in real life?

It would come in handy if you were using the T3 lanes in Sydney. I think the most confronting thing about conjoined twins is the intimacy that they have with each other. The most frequent reactions I’ve heard, in the course of talking about the show with other people, is a sense of disbelief and amusement about the practicalities of doing day to day things. Specifically things we consider very private. Like sex or nudity. Its easy to forget that they had been born together so they didn’t have a conception of what it was to experience these things alone. So they simultaneously received ridicule and objectification for what they were but endured with a connection and understanding that is profoundly deep. Deeper than even the most intimate of couples would enjoy I’d imagine.

Do you have a favourite moment or song in Side Show?

My favourite moment of the show is a line that occurs toward the end. One of the sisters says to the other ‘are we ever to understand why we’ve lived as two?’ To which the other sister replies ‘probably not, but I’m thankful it’s been with you’.

From 2012 you were in the Ten Tenors line-up and you’ve just recently toured with Les Miserables. What are the main differences performing on stage in a musical as opposed to in a group like TTT?

Both are incredibly demanding but in very different ways. TTT touring is relentless. You are in a new city or town most days and the show itself demands you are on top of your voice all the time. Singing with ten other big voices is thrilling and the travelling aspect means you see so much of the world. Like a contiki tour on steroids. You develop a great rapport with audience too and find points in the show where you know what sort of a night it’s going to be. If they are going to be raucous or a little reserved. You also develop a bit of a brotherhood with the boys on the road. I still count them as my great friends.

Les Mis on the other hand is a juggernaut. The show is such a beautiful journey to           take every night and you feel the weight of history behind it. Unlike a lot of shows, the audience comes in expecting it to be amazing. So immediately the bar is set very high. It’s emotionally exhausting. Even the days when you are feeling a bit detached it still gets in under your skin. It is such a special piece. When everything aligns on any given night it remains one of the most potent experiences you can have on or off the stage.

You were also a finalist for the Rob Guest Endowment Award, and the new semi-finalists for 2016 have just been announced! Can you talk a little bit about how the Rob Guest helped you as a musical theatre performer? Do you have any advice for these hopeful finalists?

I was in the inaugural year of the Rob Guest endowment awards and I had the great pleasure of watching Rob perform as Phantom when I was growing up. Since it was the first year I didn’t know what to expect, but walking out on to the stage and doing my thing really felt like a great achievement. I think anyone that enters the awards would probably say it helps to gauge where you might be at. It’s not a career maker or breaker, but it is very much a great way to recognise and encourage young performers and in recent years, technical and music departments too. For the most recent finalists I would say just follow your gut instinct when it comes to choosing your pieces and work your butt off!!

Side Show is now playing at the Hayes Theatre until the 16th October. For more information and to book visit www.hayestheatre.com.au

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