There are many stories out there about estranged families and meeting long lost siblings that you had no idea existed into later in life. You think it can’t possibly happen to you, and then bang, your long lost brother or sister knocks on your door. But imagine if that sibling had been your best friend for years, long before you discovered the truth. Imagine what a shock that would be. That’s exactly what the characters in Blood Brothers go through, and it’s the third most performed play in the world, after Les Miserables and The Phantom Of The Opera. I spoke with actor Josh Piterman, who plays Edward, one of the said brothers, and what it has been like working on such an acclaimed show.
What made you interested in becoming an actor and singer?
I just did school musicals. That’s kind of it. I guess I realised I wasn’t going to be an elite sportsman, so you got to do something else that is different or exciting and I got into doing the school musical. I was caught Moonwalking by the the director and he said I should do the school musical.
What was it like to perform with Geoffrey Rush in The Drowsy Chaperone?
Pretty cool. That was an amazing cast. Rush is an Australian star, as big as the Bible. He’s phenom, he’s my first professional musical, it was a learning ground. That was tough, I had to always be on it. Just watching Rush, you were learning all the time. He always had his script with him, you’d catch him down the hallway, and he’d be finding new ways to say a line. In the long run of a show, you always have to keep it fresh. He’s a great guy, really keen to help those on the way up.
You have traveled all around the world to perform. How does the Australian theatre scene compare to theatre in other countries?
In different cities, there’s different theatre culture. Melbourne has a great musical culture. We’re in the week when all those musicals happened. I lived in London, which has a huge scene. The West End is a tourist attraction. Broadway was great. It’s like comparing AFL to VFL, in terms of quality of the talent. We know what it’s like to tough it out, so we work for our success. So many people vying for limited roles, actors try to get the work up on the next person.
How did you get involved with Blood Brothers? How does it feel to be part of such an acclaimed show?
It’s an incredible piece, a very British piece. It says a lot about why it’s been successful in London. The huge discrepancy in England in the Thatcher era. You audition for it and you hope they like what you do. Since seeing it, I’ve always wanted to do such meaty quality material, so rich. It can be rare in a musical, it can be like let’s get to the big dance music. This one is very driven by the content in the script. It’s very funny and has a really honest innocence in a real way. It enables the audience is that you feel so open to take it in and are vulnerable. The sadness is inevitable, it’s like a Shakespearean piece, you’re so engrossed with all the good happening, the sadness just crushes you. You can’t help but bring the Kleenex. As an audience member, you take an incredible journey.
Blood Brothers has had such longevity and acclaim over the years. I saw a commercial on the Blood Brothers Facebook page for the 1988 production of Blood Brothers that Chrissie Amphlett and Russell Crowe starred in. What do you think the appeal of the show is to remain relevant after all these years?
It was gross discrepancies in western society we can emphasise with who aren’t well off. We all can understand or be envious of those who are well off. It’s the kind of innocence in Edward, who I play, or Mickey, my character’s brother. These twins who are separated who become friends as 7 years old. One boy who is at one end of the spectrum. It’s the intricate innocence that makes it so beautiful.
Do you have any siblings? If so, would you consider your bond with them to be like the one of the Johnstone twins in the show?
I have an older sister. I don’t have a close relationship with my sister, but I feel like that with my best mate in the whole world. I’d skateboard and go to his house, no arrangements were made and they’d expect me to come over to hang out. There was no pretense. It was mateship at its rich core. We still have it 30 years on. It hasn’t ended like Mickey and Eddie’s, thank God. There are similarities with my mate and Eddie and Mickey. We didn’t see each other for a few years, but we were brought back into each others live when we were 13, So it was nice to live it out on stage.
Originally published here at milkbarmag.com on Wednesday 8 July 2015