June 15, 2008 12:00am
HE has stepped on stage to be watched intently by millions of people, but Anthony Callea admits he is terrified about making his theatre debut.Callea may have nerves of steel, but he has not acted and knows a starring role in the hit musical Wicked will be a test.
When he stepped on to the Wicked set for the first time this week, he was struck by the exciting reality of what he was about to do and nerves turned to excitement.
Working in a cast of this size with a massive crew is amazing because were all here for a common goal to put on a great show, Callea said.
It's a great, exciting feeling, but its also scary because its a new venture for me. Ive never acted or danced before and I can often have two left feet ... I'm jumping right out of my comfort zone.
Callea, 25, plays endearing munchkin Boq in the blockbuster show. Its not a lead role, but Boq is a crucial thread in the world of Oz
He is the misguided boy besotted with good witch Glinda, but she is impervious to his devotion. He does anything she asks of him, but her repeated rejection takes its toll and he eventually loses his heart altogether.
The challenging and exciting part is that this time when I walk out on stage, I cant be Anthony Callea I have to be Boq and keep remembering what is going through his head and seeing things from his perspective, he said.
Even though its a fairytale, Boq goes through an emotional roller-coaster that anyone who has ever loved someone who remains oblivious to them can relate to.
Hes a very sad character, but hes also a lot of fun. Its mainly an acting role, so Ill be exploring that side of myself a bit more.
Wicked, which tells the story behind the Wizard of Oz, is a big, expensive show, with producer John Frost saying this week sales are approaching $10 million for the Regent production
For a show that is brand new, the advance sales are fantastic, Frost said.
People want to see new shows and this is a big, spectacular production. Its certainly bigger than Sunset Boulevard and The Lion King, which were the last big shows in this theatre.
I think also Melbourne loves a premiere and an ownership of a show, which is why Im planning to leave it here for as long as possible.
Wicked International general manager Nancy Gibbs said the Melbourne response to the show had been much stronger than the London opening.
The audience is the best advertiser for this show because its such a thrilling, unusual theatre experience, Gibbs said.
One of the greatest attractions for Callea was the shows music.
I love musicals, but often with a soundtrack there are at least a few songs that dont work, he said. But I love every single one of these songs.
There are so many emotions in these songs, from the gut-wrenching Defying Gravity to the beautiful For Good and the fun of Popular.
Recording a new album for release by Christmas will enliven his passion for singing, which first struck Australian audiences four years ago on Australian Idol.
He performed to more than three million people in the shows grand final and he was thrown into the media spotlight.
It wasnt always a comfortable place to be, but he has managed to keep it in perspective, recover from the knocks and continue to grow in confidence.
You just have to have a really thick skin and not let things get to you, he said.
If Im ever feeling a bit sensitive, I bring it back to what I do and remember why Im here. Im a singer and a performer ... I tell myself to just get out there and do my thing without getting caught up in an artificial world.
As much as I love what I do, its still a job. Out in the world and on stage Im Anthony Callea or a character, but when I get home and close the door I like lying on the couch, watching TV and not thinking about anything, just like anybody.
He and partner Tim Campbell, who played Johnny OKeefe in the recent production of Shout, take time to eat out most nights Callea admits he cant even cook a piece of toast and they support each other professionally.
Campbell has been offering Callea some acting advice and will be in the opening-night audience with Calleas parents.
The best advice Tims given me is to bring myself into the character as much as possible to make it real, he said.
Its been really invaluable advice.
Callea credits his relationship with the Wheel of Fortune host with giving him the confidence to branch out creatively and work in a variety of mediums from television to the recording studio and now the theatre.
Hes so supportive of what I do and I really support what he does, so we dont have to try to make it work it just clicks, he said
If you have to think about a relationship, it doesnt work.
But even though they work in similar industries, they have different personalities.
Even though were two completely different people, we seem similar, he said. Hes more calm than me and Im a bit more fiery. Im the one who sometimes doesnt think before he opens his mouth.