Kicking off 2013 at The Hobby Center, Theatre Under the Stars is presenting two classic musicals back to back. First TUTS is offering a star-studded production of CAMELOT followed by MAN OF LA MANCHA. CAMELOT features Broadway heavyweights such as Robert Petkoff, Margaret Robinson, Sean MacLaughlin, and Tony Award nominee Tony Sheldon. While many were hitting the stores for after Christmas sales, Tony Sheldon and I talked about his career post PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT, how he was preparing for Pellinore in CAMELOT, and performing in Houston.
Me: For roughly six years, you played Bernadette in the stage musical PRISCILLA: QUEEN OF THE DESERT. The Broadway run of the show closed on June 24, 2012. What were your feelings on that important and lauded chapter of your life coming to a close?
Tony Sheldon: It had been a life changing experience, considering I went into the show thinking it was a 10-day workshop. [Laughs] That was all it was going to be for me, and it took me around the world, enabled me to work outside of Australia for the first time, and, of course, to be embraced by the Broadway community. It was bittersweet. I was sad it had come to an end, but it was the beginning of a new phase of my life-one which I was very excited about.
Me: Hopefully, you took a good, long holiday and break after PRICSILLA. Was it a relief to be able to kick back and relax for a while?
Tony Sheldon: Yes it was! Indeed, I have been on holidays ever since PRISCILLA. It was wonderful to just enjoy New York, to be able to see other shows, and to consolidate friendships that I made here in the States. At the same time, I was nervous about following up on PRICSILLA. I didn't want to go cold, as it were. And I wanted to remind people that I was still in New York. I didn't want everybody to think that I had left and gone back to Australia. So, it was the first time that I actually became proactive in my career. I was actually picking up the phone, ringing people, and asking them to put me into readings or to put me into benefits or cabarets just so the people would see my face and see that I was around. It's been an education for me, coming from a country where, you know, I'm pretty established and have been for many years to a place where I'm a virtual unknown. You have to start again.
Me: Originally, you're from Australia, having been born in Brisbane, raised in Melbourne, and having lived in Sydney. Have you noticed any major differences to performing and living in Australia versus performing and living in the United States?
Tony Sheldon: Living, of course, because it's a much bigger country here. There is no difference in the audiences any where in the world, I have noticed. Audience response is the same. If the show is good, they'll scream and cheer. And there are good nights and there are bad nights in every country. But the industry is much smaller out there [in Australia]. There is a smaller pool of actors to choose from, and we don't have the tourism out there that you have here that keeps shows running for years and years and years. So, there's more of a turn over of productions as well. Also, we have to wait longer for shows. You know, a few years can go by before we get a Broadway or West End hit because I think producers are more wary of what's going to work out there. It's just as expensive to put on a show in Australia as it is here. So, producers hedge their bets and watch their pennies.
Me: Is Theatre Under the Stars production of CAMELOT your first time to perform in Houston, Texas?
Tony Sheldon: Yes it is.
Me: Are you looking forward to performing in Houston?
Tony Sheldon: I am so excited. My mother lived in Los Angeles for 20 years. She's a performer. I don't know whether you know, but I come from a whole show business family. Going back, my mother worked in a lot of regional theaters around the country, and they were a lot of her happiest experiences. So, yes, this is pretty much the beginning of the American phase of my career coming to Theatre Under the Stars. I'm so looking forward to it. And CAMELOT is a show that I have always loved, so to be involved in that particular show is very exciting for me.