The Fame Reporter interviewed Australian stage performer, creative and reality television personality, Johnny Balbuziente. He is set to star in the brand new shake & stir production – Fourthcoming. Playing from 23 October at QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre.
Fourthcoming is an adults-only, reality-theatre production starring Johnny Balbuziente (Married At First Sight) and Cece Peters (Playing for Keeps, True Story with Hamish & Andy, The Wrong Girl). Hilarious, sexy and refreshingly honest this is the ultimate raunchy rom-com that will quench your thirst – no matter how dry you’ve been.
Gwen is in a rut. A love rut. On the surface she appears to have the goods, but deep down something is stopping her from nailing her Mr Right Now – and no amount of booze and sarcasm seems to be helping.
Keen to break the cycle once and for all, Gwen embarks on a series of four first dates with one explosive goal in mind. The question is – are any of these guys worthy of entering Gwen’s girly gates?
Lucky for Gwen, that’s where you (and your smart phones) come into play. This unique, choose-your-own-adventure, theatre-experience sees the audience voting in real-time for what Gwen does next – this happy ending is in your hands.
We talked to Johnny about what enticed him to want to join the new romantic comedy – Fourthcoming, what its been like playing a part in the creation of a New Australian Work and more.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Johnny, what sparked your interest in performing initially?
I’ve always been interested in performing but my journey was a little different. I studied drama and sport when I was in high-school, I then went to uni to study something completely different. But all during that time I kept watching heaps of theatre – my big bro was in so many shows and I would watch shake & stir productions at least 10 times each season (I still do).
I love shake & stir productions- the storytelling, the scale, the heart.
That got me fully hooked. So, in 2014 I auditioned for one of shake & stir’s in-school touring teams, got in, and I’ve been happily working in the company full-time ever since.
What is shake & stir’s new production Fourthcoming about, and what was the initial inspiration for the show?
shake & stir have always wanted to produce a “choose-you-own-adventure” type theatre show.
Given the last few years have been pretty bleak, they also were keen to produce a COMEDY as their next work – to bring some laughs.
Then I went on Married At First Sight (MAFS) and the whole “social experiment” element to that reality show sparked some interests too… So, the gang literally smashed all of those ideas together to create this crazy new interactive comedy Fourthcoming.
What drew you to be involved in this show – Fourthcoming and what is special about this production in particular?
I loved choose-your-own-adventure books growing up – do you remember Goosebumps!? So, when I was told that this show would essentially be that – an interactive comedy – I was sold.
What do you love about all four of your characters and what is your favourite moment in the show?
They are all so different and so real. It’s sad only one guy, each night, will score a second date! Too many favourite moments and not going to give away any spoilers but the Putt Putt scene is lots of fun…
What is the best part about being involved in the development of a brand-new story and stage experience?
shake & stir productions are always really collaborative. It’s been great being able to develop these characters and their journeys with Nelle Lee (the writer) and the whole team.
I read the first draft almost 10 months ago, it’s been so exciting playing a part in the creation of a New Australian Work – especially at this time.
What is your favourite part about shake & stir and the kind of work they are doing?
Every day is different! My 9 – 5 job is managing our in-school touring teams – I get to chat to so many brilliant teachers each day and work with a bunch of great actors. Then when the timing is right – I get to jump on stage and be in shows like Fourthcoming… shake & stir is always so busy! Cannot complain -it’s full-on but fully rewarding stuff. Got to love the travel too.
I’ve been lucky to perform in every state of Australia & NZ in shake & stir shows – in some pretty epic venues too!
How does the audience become immersed in the fabric of the story and experience of the show?
So, if you want to (and you don’t have to!) you will have your phone in hand and using our cheeky app you will be asked to vote for various moments in the show.
You will have 10-15 seconds and then the option that has the majority vote will be what happens on stage!
Trivial fun stuff decisions like – what drink does Gwen order – a martini or a milkshake? Or, does she ghost him or go him? Then there are big decisions – like who does she ask on a second date…? that ultimately dictates the arc of the story. YES, we have rehearsed 4 endings…!
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Robin Williams, Jamie Fox and Meryl Streep.
How do you think ‘Fourthcoming’ focuses on the female perspective of relationships and why do you think it is rare to see a woman’s view represented in the media and entertainment world?
We literally hear Gwen’s story, told by her. Being single in your 30s can be a little rough – lots of pressures from society and yeah there is this sense of “not being left on the shelf” or “should I be a parent” or “why am I not achieving what old-mate is doing.” Nelle has written an honest take on the good, bad and uglies of being in your 30s, especially the female desire and drive. Cece Peters, who has done a heap of TV acting is absolutely owning Gwen, I can’t wait for audiences to see her performance.
A female protagonist that openly and proudly discusses her sexual expressions, needs and wants doesn’t happen too often on stage… I’m excited that we get to present that.
What is one of your proudest achievements and what are some of your future dreams?
Where to start? I’m so grateful for many personal and professional achievements thus far. I try hard to acknowledge the small achievements along the way, as well as the bigger ones.
I love directing and producing shows that tour into schools – then seeing and hearing the reactions from young audiences. Providing them with a chance to see a piece of live theatre (sometimes, for the first time in their lives) – it’s proper rewarding stuff.
My future dream is to keep doing what I’m doing – when work doesn’t feel like work, when it makes a difference and allows me to keep growing and learning as a person. When I can be around loved ones and we are all happy. That’s the dream. A few holiday homes around the world, would also be nice.
Why should audiences come along and see shake & stir’s new romantic comedy ‘Fourthcoming’?
How long have we got?! The comedy, the honesty, the Cece Peters, the tech and design (it is EPIC), the feels, the chance to interact.
Even if you don’t dig rom-coms, trust me on this one… it’s going to be a wild night at the theatre!
Fame Reporter Word Play
To ride a camel in the safari desert
shake & stir
Favourite mantra when you are down
Don’t play the victim, take responsibility
Any secret talents
Can catch anything in my mouth
Married at First Sight
Dressing Room necessity
Favourite Rom-Com film
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Go-to dance move
Can’t live without
Place you want to travel to
House on the water, jet ski on the water
TV Show Binge
Money Heist, Sex Education, Animal Kingdom
Finally, favourite thing about performing
Making people laugh but also look deeper
Thank-you Johnny for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for shake & stir’s Fourthcoming at QPAC!
From 23 October 2021
All photos and videos – Supplied