Spencer Bignell & Jarrad Lindsay

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The Fame Reporter featuring Ellen Goddard

Spencer Bignell and Jarrad Lindsay are brilliant musical theatre performers and have recently started the successful first Brisbane Musical Theatre Open Mic night, Underground Broadway held every two months to sold out shows.

We talked to Spencer and Jarrad about their performing career and how their love of theatre has created this wonderful industry night and encouraged young performers to share their talents alongside industry professionals. See the full interview below.

Welcome to The Fame Reporter Spencer and Jarrad, What are both of your stories in the creative /musical theatre industry for example what was that moment that made you want to be an actor or part of this world?

Spencer:  Hey. Thanks for having us! Well I did a bit of singing as a teenager and went on to study jazz voice at uni for a while before eventually deciding it wasn’t for me. At the time I was seeing just about every musical that came to town and was pretty obsessed but never EVER thought I could be in them. Anyway, I was extremely lucky that the right set of opportunities and mentors came along and now here I am!

Jarrad: Hey! What Spencer said, thanks for having us! Well I grew up around music with my dad singing/playing in bands and performing professionally. I’ve always loved performing whether it is showing my sisters my dance routine to Human Nature’s ‘He Don’t Love You’ or your occasional magic trick. I sung whenever I didn’t have food in my mouth growing up which eventually lead me to front a band called Set The Record which was a great experience but later left to study performing arts and jump into the world of musical theatre and ever since then I’ve known I have a real passion for the craft.

What was your acting training like and how did they assist your career progression etc?

S: I did the full time music theatre course at Patrick Studios Australia in Melbourne, under the direction of Andrew Hallsworth. I then studied a short course in acting for film & television. Andy’s course was hard work but brilliant for me as it’s all practical and follows school terms rather than university semesters so you end up doing about the same number of hours as a 3 year degree in only two. It really kicked my butt and set me up for the start of my career.

J: I studied at the Performing Arts Conservatory for one year, it was great for me because I was unfamiliar with that kind of world at the time and it got me excited for the road ahead. I left there about two and a half years ago now so I’m still fairly new to it all and still learning but I’m glad I decided to make the move to study because I did learn a lot and made everything a lot clearer.

What was it that made the two of you want to create Underground Broadway and can you give us a little insight on the concept of the show and how it started?

S: I was performing in an industry night down in Melbourne and Jarrad mentioned how Brisbane didn’t have anything like it but he thought it could work really well. I’ve always been interested in producing so we decided to give it a go! From there the idea kind of grew and now we run Underground Broadway every second month to sold out audiences of 150+ people.

J: Underground Broadway brings together Professional performers currently in touring commercial musicals, students, juniors and general theatre-lovers from all over the state. We are also home to Brisbane’s only ‘Open Mic’ night exclusively for Musical Theatre. Our aim is to foster the growth of the Musical Theatre Community in Brisbane through regular events that involve and encourage local talent of all ages and experience levels.

Why do you think Brisbane musical theatre is not as well – known as other states in Australia?

S: It’s hard to say why it’s not as well-known. I suppose it might have previously been due to population size and lack of training ground for performers so people who were really serious about theatre would probably have had to relocate to Melbourne or Sydney in order to find enough opportunities.

Now, however, there is so much happening in the Brisbane theatre scene plus a handful of really great courses so it is really up and coming!

How do you think Underground Broadway has changed or impacted the theatre community and Musical Theatre popularity in Brisbane so far?

S: We’re very excited that we can be a small part of the huge growth that the Brissy industry is seeing at the moment. Our events give performers a chance to perform in a relaxed but professional environment as well as enabling them to meet and network with industry pros. It’s also just a great opportunity to catch up with friends and people you may not see regularly from within the Brisbane scene.

What is your favourite role or project you have performed in or been a part of and why?

J: I’d say Producing Underground Broadway, we love putting it all together and watching it grow, we see so many performers doing what they love and we can’t help leaving the night with a burst of inspiration and excitement for the next one.

What 5 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with and why?

J: Seeing as though we binge watched his videos during Sound Of Music I’m pretty sure Spencer wouldn’t have a problem at all if I invited Jeremy Jordan to dinner. I’d also invite John Mayer, big fan of his music then probably Tori Kelly so we could get some riffs going then Pasek and Paul so we could talk about what goes into songwriting. There are so many that I’d invite that I may have to just hire out a stadium that way everyone can eat and then perform.

We love that you have changed the typical format of a musical theatre industry night and have included local open mic and junior performers, why did you decide to include young performers to perform in this way?

J: It was an easy decision to add a Juniors Section to our event. Both Spencer and I saw firsthand how talented Juniors can be through The Sound Of Music, we thought it would be great to get them in front of a supportive audience to get their confidence up and to perform alongside industry professionals.

Who are your acting and music icons?

J: Oh jeez, that is tough! Once again I may need to open up another stadium because there’s too many to name. I watched a lot of Rowan Atkinson growing up and marvelled at his talent. With music I grew up with my dad listening to dad things, so I’ll always love the 60’s and 70’s/ 80’s, as well as listening to up and coming composers and new musicals but honestly I love all types of music and couldn’t choose a specific artist. I love a song that tells a story and makes me feel something, I think that’s why my playlist is predominantly musical theatre based. #sorrynotsorry

S: I’d have to say the typical two current Musical Theatre stars in Jeremy Jordan and Ramin Karimloo. I mean they’re just incredible. I love all kinds of music too though, particularly jazz, so definitely Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald etc! Oh and Bublé of course.

You both were in the cast of Sound of Music, it is such a classic part of the culture of our modern world, and how was it working on that iconic show?

J: It was fantastic and a great experience, I never got sick of hearing the songs sung by an exceptionally talented cast. I also got to meet Spencer!

S: SOM was brilliant. As you said it’s such a classic piece so we were very lucky to be a part of it. The main thing I took away from it was definitely the experience of working with such an awesome company, though. They were a wonderfully diverse group of genuinely lovely people with a remarkable depth of experience.

What do you hope to achieve in the future and with Underground Broadway and can you give us a little spoiler about your upcoming Autumn show?

S: We’re really happy with how well UB is doing at the moment and are so grateful for the audience base and family we’ve been able to create. Having said that we’re always looking for ways to grow and are constantly taking on suggestions and feedback from both our audiences and performers. There are plenty of big ideas in the works with this project so stay tuned!

As for spoilers I think that would ruin the fun, wouldn’t it? Part of what we love about the format is that we can play around with it and throw in a few surprises every now and again. But it is going to be our biggest yet and it’s already completely sold out!

What advice would you give young performers wanting to become immersed in this creative profession?

S: I guess the biggest thing is just to keep working hard! It sounds cliché but the people who work the hardest almost always end up the most successful. Also, networking is super important. You know that saying “it’s not WHAT you know but WHO you know”? Well it’s actually true, particularly when you’re starting out. Go out and meet people, put yourself out there, work on stuff for free sometimes. You never know what might come from it!

Lastly who or what inspires you?

J: Seeing people doing what they love inspire me because it shines through them and you can’t help but be inspired in their energy.

Thank-you Spencer and Jarrad for joining us at The Fame Reporter we wish you all the best for your next Underground Broadway Autumn show tomorrow, the 3rd April and continued success with the project in the future.

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