Aspects of Love at The Hayes
The Hayes' last show of what has been an exceptional year at the small Potts Point theatre, opens this week and is set to finish off the year in style! Carly spoke with Stephanie Jones who will take on the role of Giulietta Trapani, this week and asked about the process of putting on a work that spans so many years, taking on an Andrew Lloyd Webber show and working with this amazing team of people. Have a read below:
I wanted to start by asking a bit about the context of the show - I know it's about lust and love and it's set against the backdrop of post war Europe. How have you, and the rest of the cast, tackled that and managed to make this production current and relevant to today’s audiences?
I think what makes it so current is that this musical – what Andrew Lloyd Weber has done is write this really human story amongst this score that is just extremely lush, and vibrant and full…like we are used to from Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. Except, what we like to joke about is that there is no barricade or falling chandelier or helicopter like in Miss Saigon, it’s just a really human story about love and I think everyone has experienced love in one way or another and I think people will be able to relate to that, and even if the experiences that they see on stage don’t relate to them directly – more often than not you know someone who has gone through something like that or someone else who has had that kind of relationship. There are just so many kinds of relationships highlighted in this show and so it’s just really interesting to see the different forms that love can take.
So my follow up question to that was going to be ‘what can audiences expect?’ But I guess it’s a real relatability and familiarity and that is what they can look forward to.
Yeah I think so! But whilst enjoying this rich score, I mean, it is definitely an unusual musical score, it’s quite dissonant in a lot of ways but we have Geoffrey Castles at the helm and he’s just absolutely incredible! So, I think also people are going to walk away and say what incredible voices we have in this show – right down to every single ensemble member. Every here has the most divine voice and when we all sing collectively it all sounds fantastic.
Ooh I’m excited for that. I can imagine – you know in any rehearsal when you get that moment and everyone says ooh we sound amazing together and you get a shiver down your spine.
Yeah, totally right! Absolutely right! I mean, we’re counting like we never have before because there are a lot of tough time signatures and you really have to be on the ball and counting, and if you stop counting then it’s all over.
So then I wanted to ask a bit about Giulietta – who is she and what do you enjoy playing about her?
Well, firstly what drew me to her were the songs that she has. So, that started with the songs that I had to learn for the audition and I just though wow – these are really good! I didn’t really know anything about Aspects of Love – I’d heard of it and I knew that it was based on David’s novel but listening to that music initially I thought – wow! This chick sounds fun! So I would really describe her as a grounding force in the show. She has had a lot of trauma herself and a lot of broad experiences for her young age and I think she comes with a lot of wisdom and a really lovely energy that so many characters in the show can relate to and love. She has relationships, as most of the other characters do, with a lot of people in the show which initially made me feel a bit of pressure thinking ‘this woman has to be pretty incredible’ to make men and women fall to their knees! But I just think that what is so great about her, is her soul and he wisdom and she is just a really stable energy for all the other manic characters in the show who sort of have their diva moments and she has the ability to calm people down and see things from a different side, I guess.
I was going to ask you what her role in the show is, but you have said that she is the stabilising force as this journey weaves in and out of what looks to be a complicated web of relationships. Is that a fair way of describing it?
Yeah it definitely is – it’s so complicated! But she is the kind of person who does take a lot of time alone. So, she does take a step away from many of the relationships that she has formed not because she has fallen out of love but because she is a very free bohemian spirit who likes to have her time to herself, as well while keeping in touch with Rose and George.
Grant Smith and Stephanie Jones
As an actress, and more to it, as a team I suppose, how have you handled the fact that this story spans a 17 year period?
It does! So that’s definitely a challenge that we are finding, and one that presents itself often. We are just trying to make sure that we convey that passing time properly…we need to show that there are a couple of years that have passed between these two scenes and a couple of years here, and a couple of years there.
But I think Andrew is very very clever and he has made it very clear – we have an incredible set and its probably going to be the biggest set, with the most complicated scene changes that the Hayes has ever seen, I reckon. There are a lot of scene changes that impact the time span. Then, of course, a lot of it falls on our shoulders as actors… especially for Kaitlin and Alex because you meet them when they haven’t even met each other yet. So you see them meet and you see their relationship grow, and they are doing such a beautiful job because you can tell that they just fall more and more in love with each other as time is passing and they get more comfortable with each other – it is really just beautiful to watch!
But overall, it’s hard, especially as it is a sung through musical. So everything is set to music and everything has to be timed to the score, but I’m sure our audiences are smart enough and quick enough to keep up with us as the times change.
If you had to pick a favourite moment or song in this musical what would it be and why?
Hmm… I really love listening to Kaitlin sing “ Anything but Lonely” which comes at the end of the show. As well, I do love one of the songs that I sing which is “ There is More to Love.” I think that those two songs, even those they are not close to each other within the show, they are both these important moments for women to talk about what they want and really open up. I think that they are these moments where it is just ‘common ground’ and everyone is going to be able to relate with those couple of songs and just understand that feeling.
As well, our men in this show! The guys who are playing Alex and George – that’s Jonno and Grant - are just incredible and I cant wait for you guys to hear their voices – everything they sing sounds amazing! There is a great circus number too…but I am saying too many things! I can’t pick just one favourite!
One more though, “Love Changes Everything” is a really good one too. I think everything you need to know about it is in the title – I think everyone can agree that that is often the case.
What has been the greatest challenge in bringing this classic to the stage and then also, what has been the greatest joy?
I think sometimes what is the hardest about something is the most rewarding and so in this show, I think it’s just the music and getting the score down. It has been really difficult, it’s very very tricky and you have to have a really good ear to sing this score, but now that we are getting it and sitting more comfortably in it, we are getting to the point where we are opening up and feeling more free when we sing. So I feel we are really reaping the rewards of that. The show is set quite a while ago and the score is very traditional and yet slightly left afield for Andrew Lloyd Webber so some audiences may not have the palate for that sort of show anymore. But I have a feeling that people will really love listening to this and that there won’t be any disconnect just because the music is different. I feel that people are going to open up to it and want to hear more and become fans of this show just like we all have.
I wanted to finish up by asking a bit more about your year. There has been huge diversity from the last time that the Hayes audience saw you as a mute character to now obviously singing, and I know that there was Oklahoma in the middle of that too. So from the women you have played this year what have you learnt from them, and what’s been a common thread between them or complete differences?
I think what I loved about Delilah in Carmen, Live or Dead, was that she was mute because I got to express myself through my body and I have been a dancer for a really long time, so it was really lovely to have an opportunity to give that part of me that attention. I also loved expressing myself through my music and my violin which I have played since age four so that has also always been a huge part of me. Then in Oklahoma I got to do the dream ballet dance which was a huge dance number that I never thought I would get to do! It really almost scared me in a way because I’m not a dancer like I used t be but it ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.
And now Guillietta gets to do a bit of dancing here as well and I am really enjoying that I get to keep playing these women who express themselves through more than just words, or just singing, but also through movement. I really have the best of both worlds with one foot in each world! But as we know in the industry, the worlds are very much married and I feel you can’t have one without the other. It has been a real pleasure and such a joy to play these women and I feel very lucky!
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Favourite production you have ever seen?
Angels In America
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Switzerland to the snow
Dream Role to Perform?
That’s Hard... Mrs Lovatt in Sweeney Todd – but I’m not quite old enough for that yet – one day in the future
Plays or Musicals?
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
I’m going to say listening to podcasts while I am cooking . That’s a hard one because I feel that we all started doing what we do as a hobby – it was an extracurricular.
What’s next for you after this show?
I’m going to head back to Melbourne and be with my friends and my work mates and we will see. I cant really say anything else because I don’t really know.
Tickets are available for the show here, but be quick because many of the nights are already sold out!