The Fame Reporter featuring Ellen Goddard
The Fame Reporter interviewed the incredible Australian Artist and Actor Mark Stefanoff.
Mark is thrilled to be making his professional musical theatre debut in Kinky Boots. He was featured on Channel 9’s The Voice in 2013, and after Mark’s first blind audition, Ricky Martin offered him the opportunity of a lifetime – connecting Mark with his Broadway agent. In New York, Mark was awarded a scholarship to Broadway Dance Centre and also trained at Julliard School of Music. He returned to re-audition for The Voice in 2015 to an overwhelmingly positive reception.
Mark has worked with artists such as Silvie Paladino, Guy Sebastian, Stephen Schwartz, Idina Menzel and Ben Vereen. His credits include Harvest Rain’s arena spectacular Hairspray, The Illusionists 1903 and children’s show A Royal Fairytale in Penang, Malaysia.
Currently he is touring Australia in Kinky Boots, playing one of Lola’s Angels in the ensemble and is the Referee Angel.
We talked to Mark about his career thus far in the musical theatre industry including his reaction when being cast in the Tony award-winning musical Kinky Boots, his dream roles and more check out the interview here in the video above!
Get tickets to Mark’s recent show Kinky Boots in which he plays the Referee Angel. The show is currently playing at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC until October 22 2017 in it’s last leg of the tour.
Book your seats here – http://bit.ly/2wHjBgd
Interviewed and edited by Founder of The Fame Reporter, Ellen Goddard.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Mark, What was it that sparked your interest in acting/musical theatre initially?
Initially my parents used to take me to a lot of musicals and things and the one that stuck with me the most was in 1999 going and seeing Fame the musical, there was a character called Schlomo which was played by Luke Hunter. It was a character that played piano, it played flute and Luke is now my conductor in Kinky Boots. After seeing that show it made me go ‘wow I can kind of include all the things that I love like playing instruments, singing and dancing, all of it in one. So that kind of lit the spark for me.
How was your experience on The Voice Australia? How did that experience affect your current career progression?
I absolutely loved my time on The Voice, both seasons I did. I went into it not expecting anything and in season 2 getting Ricky Martin flying me out to America getting to work with his agent was just the most incredible thing. It’s something that he didn’t have to do, it was completely off his own bat. To go back in season 4 and be part of it again, it was overwhelming and such an incredible experience.
I definitely don’t feel like I’d be where I am at the moment in my career without having gone through it and having the support from that team. I also worked with one of the music directors from Julliard, I went to Broadway Dance Center and I did a whole bunch of workshops over there. It was just absolutely incredible and I learnt so much.
What 5 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with and why?
Starting off the top, number one Natalie Weiss just because she is a great hoot and I love her ‘Breaking down the riffs’. Number two I would absolutely love to have Kristin Chenoweth. I just think she has an incredible outlook on life and is an incredible storyteller and you always need one of those at the party. Idina Menzel because I think that would cause some friction and I love a bit of drama, who got the Tony!
Number four I would love Billy Porter. I just feel like his career is mind-blowing and who he is as an artist outside musical theatre and the work he has created is incredible. Number five is not a performer but someone in the arts would be Kellie Dickerson, current conductor of Book of Mormon in Australia. I remember watching her when I was in front row of Wicked the musical and watching her conduct and I found it was one of the most mesmerising not only the show but watching her I was so intrigued. I would love to pick her brain. I think that would be an amazing dinner party and we’d have a lot of chicken.
Who are your style icons?
Style icons look I have always been a fan of Jack London, I love Rodger David and Country Road. I’m so grateful for social media because something like Instagram nowadays you can type in #mensfashion and look up what’s happening. When your trying to keep up with the trends, you need to especially when your doing a lot of gigs and opening nights and things, you want to be looking fashion forward. But I would definitely say that Jack London is my go – to.
Mark Stefanoff is the Angel in the Blue Bearskin Hat Matthew Murphy Photography
How did you react when you were cast in the tony award winning musical, Kinky Boots?
Great story I was at the Adelaide premiere, well the Australian premiere of Ghost the musical and I was at dinner and I’d been hearing that people had been getting cast, all these girls had been getting cast and I got a phone call from my agent who is also a really great friend of mine. I was going this is it this is the phone call and then I was like no this is a Friday night it’s not gonna be it.
She called and said ‘hey I’m just calling to see how your going just catching up’ and I was like ‘oh cool’ and I was like ‘I’m just out at dinner just relaxing having a drink’. Then she said ‘Oh cool cause you just booked Kinky Boots!’ I screamed me and my best friend screamed and we’re in a restaurant full of people and it was terrifying. I was under a table crying she was on the phone talking to my agent because I dropped my phone and I couldn’t talk. It was just the best reaction. I was so overwhelmed and so shocked and very grateful.
What about the show did you love and how was it touring Australia with the show?
It’s one of those shows from start to finish I love every bit of it for different reasons. It has the comedy, the big Broadway numbers that you’d want to see but it also has heart and emotion. A lot of people come to the show not knowing it, thinking it’s just a drag show. You sit back and you realise wow this is really quite an emotional story.
Everyone can kind of connect with it and I think right now in Australia this is a message that we need to be getting out loud and proud. To be playing it to Sydney, Melbourne and now Brisbane has been a joy and they’ve been incredible it’s been received so well.
How was it working with artist’s like Silvie Paladino, Guy Sebastian, Stephen Schwartz, singing for Idina Menzel and Ben Vereen and what did you learn from them?
Incredible I will never forget I played violin for Silvie Palladino at a Christmas Carols in Henley Square many years ago and I remembered I always heard her sing ‘Your grace still amazes me’ and I’d watch her on Carols do it. I just remember crying my eyes out when I was watching her live and she is such a giving performer in everything that she does, it was inspiring.
Then getting pulled out of the audience to sing for Idina Menzel was just a highlight. I’ve been very lucky to also doing corporate stuff with Guy Sebastian. It’s one of those things where I do get to look back and pinch myself and be like that’s my life that’s really exciting. It is work at the end of the day but it’s something that I go it doesn’t feel like work now because I’m so happy and I’m so fulfilled.
It’s a great way to learn about your craft from these other people that you surround yourself with. They would have all been in the same place I was as everyone would be at some point and knowing that they got to where they are, it’s so encouraging. It’s really nice to know that all of those people are humans and down – to – earth.
Do you have a role in any musical theatre or straight theatre piece that you are dying to embody and play?
Yeah I’ve played it once before but I want to do it again I would love to play Edgar in Batboy, it’s one of my favourite roles. I also would love to do Riff Raff in Rocky Horror, Eugene in Grease is an absolute dream, it is a goal. I don’t know why I think it’s because I can relate on a mental and social level to that one. I think I’d also really like to do the Emcee in Cabaret that’s a really cool role.
What is the routine like behind turning into a Kinky Boots Angel?
It’s a lot of make – up, it’s a lot of vanity looking at yourself in the mirror and it’s a lot of fun. The Angels we kind of sit around a couple of hours getting ready before the show and we have music going and it’s a really good way to start the show and prepare yourself into it.
At the hour call we get together with cast and do a physical and vocal warm – up so that we’re getting ready. It’s quite a big process and definitely the biggest kind of preparation and transformation I’ve ever had to do for a show. We try not to look like this on stage. There are definitely days where it is harder than others but it is a lot of fun.
What was the rehearsal process like for Kinky Boots?
The creative team from America came out and worked with us and came down for the auditions as well. They have such a way of working which is so detailed and they know exactly what it is because the same show has been re-produced around the world. So they know exactly what they want and how to achieve it. They way that they go about that is so encouraging.
It was a 6 week process which included that was the tech and previews and 6 days a week learning the show. It was basically a bootcamp, it was full on but it was really great and learning from someone like Rusty Mowery (Associate Choreographer), he had such beautiful attitude and presence and knew exactly how to get what each Angel needed out of them. He turned us from blokes in heels to sassy angels. It was a struggle to walk in the heels, I was one of the few that did break my heels during the rehearsal period and had a nice pair of Betts heels to walk in for a while, but you came very accustom to it quite quickly.
What is a future dream of yours and can you reveal any upcoming projects?
I really want to set up a workshop series and take that around to schools encouraging youth to get involved with the performing arts and even if it’s not as performers, as spectators who appreciate theatre and can keep the art form alive, I think it’s really important.
I want to keep writing and write a musical called ‘Found’ about adoption and turn it into an educational musical and take that on tour. The revealing news is I’m about to start recording my EP so check out Itunes please and stay tuned that’ll be up very soon.
Who or what inspires you?
Everyday my family absolutely inspire me. My older brother Ben is the reason that music is in our family and my parents started him with music. He was a pianist and played guitar, singer and everything in high school, thank God he doesn’t sing now haha! He’s an incredible music director now and he taught me to have confidence and how to find my voice. I didn’t have that when I was younger as I was a shy kid.
We used to every year sing at an Easter event he’d play piano and I’d sing ‘Worthy is the lamb’ every year and I remember him saying to me when I was about 11 or 12 years old he said ‘Mark you just need to have confidence now you have everything else, you just need to have confidence.’ He always has supported me and my family have always supported me. I have always been surrounded with really good friends who constantly inspire me and so that’s really good to have.
Lastly do you have any advice for younger performers who have a dream to be part of the Arts World?
Never live life with the blinkers on, always look outside of the box and know that what other people might think of you as a performer is not all that you can do. Always push the boundaries always keep finding new ways to invent your craft and your art because the arts world is so big but I think we can be very easily led to believe that one thing.
Learning to create your own work is such an incredible and such a great learning opportunity and know that everyday is about learning. For me the day that I feel like I’m not learning is the day I can’t do this anymore because I’m not doing this for the right reasons.
So always in a bad performance find something good out of it, in a good performance find something that you can learn from it. Never stop learning and appreciate where you’ve come from is the biggest thing.
Thank-you Mark for being our guest at The Fame Reporter we wish you all the best and chookas for the final leg of the Australian tour of Kinky Boots for 2017.