BE ADAM'S GUEST AT BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
After several years working across Melbourne and Sydney with Opera Australia, performer Adam Porter is set for a change of pace in Footlight Productions’ upcoming production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Having gone from singing Italian arias infused with stories of both love and tragedy, Porter now steps into the role of a suave, French, debonair candelabra, otherwise lovingly known to Disney audiences as Lumiere, the candlestick and maître d' of the Beast’s magical castle.
“Although I have played comedic roles before, it’s the first time I have played a character where physical comedy is such a driving force behind my performance,” said Porter. “It’s also nice to be doing something in English, albeit with a French accent, considering I’ve only been performing in Italian for the past couple of years with Opera Australia!”
It was Footlight Productions’ 2015 staging of the epic Schönberg and Boublil musical Miss Saigon that piqued the interest of Porter to the high quality production values of Geelong’s community theatre scene.
“I saw Miss Saigon a few years ago and it was always in the back of my mind that if Footlight were producing something that interested me, then I would definitely make the trek to Geelong to be a part of it,” explained Porter. “Beauty and the Beast is such a fabulous story and, in my opinion, definitely the best of the Disney musicals. I jumped at the chance to really flex my performing arts muscle and use my theatrical training in what is a really fun show.”
Porter was also keen to work with director Alister Smith, who was recently awarded the title of Best Director for 2017 at the Victorian Music Theatre Guild Awards for his direction of Footlight’s production of Wicked earlier this year.
“Alister is such a fantastic director and is giving us lots of opportunities to play and create,” said Porter. “He was definitely one of the reasons I was so keen to come work with Footlight.”
The protracted rehearsal period is also something Porter is relishing, giving him and his cast mates the opportunity to explore the libretto and their characters more fully.
“The three-month rehearsal period is such a dream, as opposed to a tight four-week process,” said Porter. “In a rushed rehearsal schedule, you get sent the script and you learn your lines, and the choices you make in the room on a particular day are often the choices you’re stuck with for the entirety of the season. However without that time pressure, Alister is encouraging us to explore different options, which we revisit again and again.”
The creative process behind Porter’s big musical number Be Our Guest, the rousing showstopper towards the end of the first act, is testament to the playful environment in the rehearsal room.
“Take Be Our Guest for example, the way we originally staged that a couple of months ago is so different to the version we have today,” said Porter.
With so many incarnations of this story over the years, from the original 18th century French fairytale to the 1991 Academy Award winning film and, most recently, the live-action film starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, the team at Footlight are keen to bring something new to this classic tale for Geelong audiences.
“Our version is not as shiny as the Disney version, we’re actually taking it back to the way the original story was told,” said Porter. “The town that Belle comes from is much darker and a lot more drab, which really amplifies the elegance of the castle and the magical characters that occupy it.”
“The epic detailing in the costumes alone, designed by Rhiannon Irving, will be extremely thought-provoking for audiences,” continues Porter. “It will provide that contrast between the light and the shade in Belle’s life in the village and, subsequently, her new life in this magical kingdom.”
You can see Adam Porter in Footlight’s Beauty and the Beast in the Playhouse Theatre at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre, starting January 19 for a three-week run. Tickets are available via the GPAC box office on (03) 5225 1200 or visiting gpac.org.au.
Adam was interviewed by Footlight Productions marketing team member Jacob Petkovic.
Pictured Adam as Lumiere and in his day job as a Presenter at The Melbourne Zoo