Sweet Charity: Andy Cook

Andy Cook

The Fame Reporter interviewed the wonderfully talented Australian actor, Andy Cook who will play famous Italian movie star, Vittorio Vidal in Understudy Production’s Sweet Charity at the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Andrew Cook has just finished a run of Priscilla and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, hot on the heels of his performance as Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar.  He’s also appeared in Matilda, King Kong, Moonshadow and Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom: The Musical, where he originated the role of Wayne Burns. He won the 2014 East End District award at the Rob Guest Endowment. Andrew has a BA in Music Theatre Performance from WAAPA.

We talked to Andy about his love of musical theatre, his role in Sweet Charity and his advice for aspiring performers.

See our interview below!

Welcome to The Fame Reporter Andy, what was it that sparked your interest in performing/musical theatre initially?
Ever since I was a very small child I was always musical – singing, acting and dancing. It was always something that I did growing up. I was a musician. I studied piano and jazz music from a very young age. I also started getting classical voice lessons. I think having a varied interest in music led me to musical theatre and stage performance and thought this is something I really love doing. I followed my passion from a very young age.

Tell us a little about your character –  Vittorio Vidal in Understudy Productions’ Sweet Charity and what drew you to the piece?
I play Vittorio Vidal and he is an Italian film star. He runs into Charity in a very funny scene. She’s there at the right time when he’s got a very bruised ego. The thing I love about him is that it’s almost Telenovela because it is heightened; it’s very funny and dramatic.

I love playing left of centre characters and trying to find the truth and humour in it, that’s something that drew me to it. Also the piece, I am a huge fan of Sweet Charity. The writing is so funny and this scene for this particular character is almost slapstick. It is very quick and vaudevillian. Another reason is a very good friend of mine is playing Charity, so that definitely drew me to the show. I’m very excited to work with Naomi.  

What is your favourite moment in Sweet Charity?
‘Too many tomorrow’s’ is my character’s song and I’m excited to do that. But also as a dancer ‘Rich man’s frug’ is going to be very special to do. Also watching other parts like ‘Big spender’ and ‘I’m a brass band’, those big iconic numbers are going to be killer.

What was it like originating the role of Wayne Burns for the brand-new musical Strictly Ballroom?
Hilarious. It was really exciting and creative. Right from the get go the auditions really let you build the character from your personality. You got the chance to do what you wanted to do.

I loved it, it was very high-stress but I believe that made people do their best work under pressure. I had such a wonderful time. I wouldn’t want to wear that tan again… but I had a lot of laughs and great fun doing that show.

Do you have a role in any musical theatre or straight theatre piece that you are dying to play?
If it’s music theatre it would be Emcee in Cabaret. If it is straight theatre I would love to do a Shakespeare play. But probably something like Road by Jim Cartwright. It’s set in Lancashire and it’s gritty, I like gritty stuff.

Sweet Charity Rehearsal

What did you learn being in the cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and what was a favourite memory from that show?
Well my favourite moment in that show to do was the opening with the entire ensemble cast performing the song ‘1650 Broadway.’ It is everyone singing together in the most amazing mash-up of songs. To sing that for the first time in the rehearsal room – we sang it in a circle looking at each other and that was really amazing.

Everyone’s voice and skill level was probably the highest I have ever been with on a show; there was not a weak link. It was so wonderful to sing that score every night with those people. They were freaks, they were awesome.

What I learned from it was to truly be yourself out there. Especially understudying on that show, really put yourself into the character. I think I have always known that but it was really nice to practice it. Finding the truth is key.

What 3 dancers or performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Meryl Streep, Alan Cumming and Saoirse Ronan.

Congratulations on your East End Theatre District Award. Why did you decide to partake in the Rob Guest Endowment and what was that experience like?
What made me want to partake is because I have watched it for a couple of years and I thought wow was a great opportunity to sing with a full orchestra. At that point I was doing just ensemble stuff and I thought this would be a great chance for me to get out there and have a go.

The group of people I had was great and we were really good friends with each other so it was really supportive, lovely and truly exhilarating. It is a lot of prep but when you actually get there it is very quick, you have an hour to take your song in with the orchestra for the first time and then you are suddenly in front of 2000 people. I got to pick songs that I would never perform in my life.

What do you love about Australian theatre?
I love the community we have here and working together. I like how it is quite small and feels very warm and very hardworking. I wish we would make more Australian work as well.

What do you hope audiences take away from ‘Sweet Charity’?
A barrel of laughs for sure. I want them to have one of the most hilarious nights of theatre in their life. But also to be reflective, because this show can be quite devastating if done in a particular way. It helps people take a look at their own lives and the choices they make and where it might lead them. It is very funny but also heartbreaking at times.

Sweet Charity Rehearsal

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to have a career in musical theatre or performing? 
Work hard and don’t stop even if you think you are tired. Really be passionate if you want to do it because it is not an easy road and stay in your own lane, don’t compare yourself to others.

Fame Reporter Word Play        

Favourite musical

Musical Muse
Steven Pasquale

Spirit Animal

Bucket list
Amalfi Coast

Favourite music at the moment
Jordan McKay

Place you want to travel to

Dream performer to work with
Heather Mitchell

Wayne Burns

Netflix Binge

Favourite song in Sweet Charity
Rich Man’s Frug

Finally, favourite thing about theatre?
The possibilities

Thank-you for joining us at The Fame Reporter. We wish you all the best for a wonderful season of ‘Sweet Charity’.

Don’t miss Andy in the classic tale of Sweet Charity now playing in the Visy Theatre at the Brisbane Powerhouse from 24 January –10 February 2019.

Get your tickets here

Follow Understudy Production’s adventures on social media here! 

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All photos – Supplied