Paul Andrew talks to Aleksa Kurbalija, lead male in the Young Australian Broadway Chorus' Production of the classic- and controversial- musical, Spring Awakening.
Glee may well be a top-rating television export however it barely compares to local product; an average day of singing, dancing and acting for members of the Young Australian Broadway Chorus rehearsing for their Melbourne debut of Spring Awakening.
Actor Aleksa Kurbalija joined the YABC “eons ago” and admits to being an aficionado of the TV show that never fails when it comes to forgettable one-liners; such as cheerleader Brittany Pierce on the Britney/ Brittany dialectic: “It’s Brittany…bitch.”
“Yes, I must admit, I am quite a big Glee fan, “ says Kurbalija with a laugh,” I'm a huge sucker for the corny story lines and even cornier characters. I'm also a huge fan of show tunes and people remixing classic pop songs, so once you put corny characters and storylines together with that type of music, I'm automatically going to be a huge fan.”
Kurbalija plays Melchior one of the lead characters in the 2006 musical based on the 1891 play by German playwright Frank Wederkind. Melchior is a personable, intellectual and radical student who spends his time genuflecting on the narrow-mindedness of a school and a society, the type of student who is scant when it comes to the cast of Glee; Tina “I Kissed a Girl” Cohen-Chang being the nearest Glee match to Melchior.
“Initially I thought that being in YABC was nothing like Glee. But we have quite a lot in common: we perform show tunes with singing, dancing and acting, we all absolutely love what we do and absolutely everybody in the group is fighting to get a solo for shows like this one. It’s a Glee club after all. “
“Funny stuff happens to us, too. When our male and female adult actors are unavailable or not scheduled for rehearsals on a certain day, our director fills in for them and reads their parts. The opening scene is between Wendla and her mother, and when our director puts on his delicate motherly voice it makes the entire cast chuckle and cackle throughout the scene. It's a very big test to see if we can stay focused. We can.... most of the time.”
“Today I had to rehearse the scene where I take my pants and underwear off to reveal my bare bottom. Considering the cast had never witnessed this scene before it was very daunting having to do it for the first time. It definitely caused a lot of anxiety for me. After the initial confrontation, a few of giggles later everybody just accepted it.”
The YABC actor is very clear when it comes to the true grit behind this musical.
“What I’ve come to understand about the society in which this musical is set, is the fact that the entire society was very restricted. Children didn't have the knowledge needed to be able to describe their emotions and feelings; they were completely oblivious to the meaning of- and the differences between - sex and love. That society relied on religion to guide them along the right path of living. Although our society these days isn't nearly as restricted nor dependent on religion to function, we still deal with the awkward fact that children don’t have the knowledge needed to easily describe their emotions and feelings, this is why Spring Awakening is such a successful musical.”
National Theatre (YABC) St Kilda27 January- 5 January