Nicholas Gentile has travelled and performed all the over the world, worked with esteemed composers such as Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin) and Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Aladdin), and worked as a composer on various short films for international film festivals.
Now Nicholas is bringing his glitzy upbeat-show, Broadway Reimagined, to the brand new Pioneer Theatre in Castle Hill on Saturday, December 1 at 8pm.
FOCUS spoke to Nicholas ahead of his show. This is what he had to say about Broadway Reimagined and working with the best of the best in Broadway:
Focus: What is Broadway Reimagined?
Nicholas: Broadway Reimagined is a new must-see show, taking classic Broadway tunes and musically reimagining them to lift the soul and warm the spirit
Focus: What can attendees expect from your show?
Nicholas: The audience can expect all of their favourite tunes from Broadway as they’ve never heard them before.
Focus: How did the idea for a ‘Broadway’ inspired show come about?
Nicholas: I’ve always been a huge fan of musical theatre and arranging. I love singing Broadway tunes, but would always want to do them my own way. So, starting a show like this seemed like the logical next move.
Focus: Do you have a favourite Broadway tune? If yes, what is it and why?
Nicholas: “Children Will Listen” from Into The Woods would have to be my all time favourite Broadway tune. The message of the song really resonates personally with me.
Focus: What makes Broadway Reimagined different to any other Broadway inspired show?
Nicholas: The point of difference here is the reimagining. Broadway Reimagined is a musicians dream. We play with time signatures, grooves, mashups, medley’s and more. It’s accompanied by a full stage band with rich and robust 4 part vocal harmonies. The show is tongue and cheek, it’s playful, it has a sense of humour with the material and takes songs that people know and love and gives them a twist and makes people think about them in a new way. We are delivering something fresh and irreverent.
Focus: Can you tell me a bit about how you came to pursue a career in musical theatre/performance?
Nicholas: As long as I can remember, music has been in my soul. I live and breathe it and I’m not closed off from any particular genre. I’m an admirer of all music. Naturally, this tends to lead towards a career in musical theatre as it seems to be the craft with the most musical diversity. From The Phantom of the Opera to Rock of Ages and now Hamilton. There is really something for everyone “on the boards”.
Focus: How do you create your shows? Can you tell me your step-by-step process from idea to opening the show curtains?
Nicholas: The process? I don’t want to give too much away, but usually it starts with me at the piano and a songbook of Broadway classics. I’ll have a play around with styles and such and then engage some of Australia’s best arrangers to arrange the tunes. Other times, I give the arrangers full creative freedom. Once the charts have been created we record them with the full 8 piece band at SONY studios in Sydney. Then our writer Jay James Moody works his magic and writes a wonderful script for the show. Following that is the rehearsal process and then boom, here we are! (That’s the brief summary anyway).
Focus: Can you tell me about how winning the Fine Music Australia Grant to write new opera felt and what the grant means for you?
Nicholas: Words cannot describe my joy when it was announced that I was the winner of the Fine Music Australia Grant to write my new opera, Émilie & Voltaire. This new opera is important for Australian artists and audiences for many reasons, not the least being its universal appeal and its economy of means, allowing it to be performed with relative ease in more than one venue in its home country, and to be exported overseas as a uniquely powerful and expressive Australian opera. The current crises in international relations and the perceived threats to democracy in many countries mean that today the citizens of the world are desperate for messages of inspiration and hope—longing in essence for a principled leadership that holds true to the ideals of equality, justice and rational thought propounded by natural philosophers such as Voltaire, Maupertuis and Émilie. In this sense, the opera is only too contemporary. Set at the beginning of the original humanist Enlightenment, it shows the flowering of an extraordinary mind, as Émilie triumphs in her struggle to lead an authentic life as a physicist. Hers is a feminist story that chimes dramatically with today’s growing recognition of the historic achievements of women in science and mathematics.
Focus: You’ve worked with leading composers like Stephen Schwartz from Godspell. Have any of these famed composers given you great life advice? If so, what was it and who said it?
Nicholas: Being in the same room with the likes of Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken, well not much can top that. Their wisdom is unparalleled. Possibly the best advice, as cliche as it sounds would be: “Don’t give up and don’t care too much what others think. You need to believe in your music more than anyone”.
Focus: What’s next for you?
Nicholas: 2019 will be very full on while writing Émilie & Voltaire. People will be able to follow my journey through the composition of the opera and even become a supporter on my Patreon page through my website. I’ll be uploading fortnightly video entries about the process and you’ll be able to follow each stage of development of the opera. Here is my website: nicholasgentilemusic.com.
Focus: Anything else that you would like to add?
Nicholas: We would love for people to follow Broadway Reimagined on Facebook and Instagram @broadwayreimagined1.