Side by side with Falzon

WHAT is it with the Maltese and the performing arts? Is it sheer coincidence that actor-singer Michael Falzon is the fourth Australian of Maltese origin that I’ve interviewed in as many months?

Michael Falzon… “A lot of people think Sondheim is more difficult than it is.” Photo by Gregory Punshon.

One thing is sure, when Falzon was a little boy growing up in Sydney and Brisbane, his parents gave their six children round-the-clock singing lessons, which had Falzon singing around the house and putting on shows with his siblings.

Chance took him to suburban Kelvin Grove High School, a centre of excellence in drama, and the rest is history. By age 21, in 1994, he was offered a professional role in Opera Queensland’s production of “Pirates of Penzance”, going on to create a sensation as the star of the Queen musical “We Will Rock You”.

“I lucked out,” he tells me, “I learnt a lot working with magnificent people, I learnt hard and fast.”

Falzon can rightly claim to have studied in the school of hard knocks, but it must have been a good school, because now he’s joining musical stars Geraldine Turner and Rachael Beck and narrator Jessica Rowe in the revue “Side by Side by Sondheim”, coming to Canberra soon.

“A lot of people think Sondheim is more difficult than it is, but if you have a good ear, you can kick into what he writes,” the ebullient Falzon tells me. “I grew up listening to him when Sondheim was in his heyday… very beautiful melodies. They always struck a chord with me, if you’ll pardon the pun.”

One of things that he really likes about Sondheim is his gift for telling stories through his songs. “Most of the songs stand quite alone,” Falzon says, “that’s why ‘Side by Side’ is such a great show.”

The best example of what he’s talking about in “Side by Side” is a song from the musical  “Company” called “Marry Me a Little”. Falzon says the song “looks closely at marriage and what it is, not at how wonderful it is”.

“Anyone over the age of 35 and who’s getting into the nuts and bolts of life will say to themselves when they hear these songs ‘I understand. I’ve been through that’.”

“Side by Side by Sondheim”, The Playhouse, September 21-22, Bookings to 6275 2700 or visit canberratheatrecentre.com.au

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