Teenzone had the opportunity to sit down with one of the most famous felines in history, namely ‘Puss’ in Puss in Boots. Okay well, not really but we did have a chance to chat to Earl Gregory who plays the lead role of PUSS in The Lyric Theatre’s rendition of Puss in Boots. Here’s what Earl had to say about the production and his career as an actor:
Where did this all start for you?
I think my journey began many years ago when I was a young boy performing at a church concert and everyone went crazy. Hearing the sound of the applause was like food for the soul so the rest as they say is history.
Do you have an official training background?
Yes, I did a National Diploma in Musical Theatre Studies which was a three year course which focused on singing, dancing and acting. Me having two left feet got the chance to hone in on my dance technique as well as the other two. This time was essential as it prepared me for the field that I was entering into. Most people think that it just takes talent but I think it is important to learn all the technical skills that will give your body mind and spirit the longevity it needs to have a long and sustainable career.
What has been the highlight of your theatre career so far
I always struggle to answer this questions when asked as I have had so many incredible experiences within this industry. I think what stays with me a long time after the curtain has drawn are those moments shared on stage that transcend time and meaning. Its hard to explain but its something that I always reflect on a long time after a show is done.
How long is the average rehearsal period before a play is taken live?
The average rehearsal process for most show’s and musicals are six weeks. We put this show together in three. Most actors will tell you that there is a sense of panic that goes through you when you hear that you only have three weeks to stage a show, as we have so many elements that need to come together in this short time. However the level of professionalism that is out there working on Puss in Boots is so high that its absolutely achievable. Also, having a director with a clear vision makes the process a smooth one. I’m grateful to have had Steven Stead and my co-stars and the entire creative team to work with me.
I enjoy working with Steven because of his huge passion for what he does; he is so inspiring to watch. A few years ago I got to work on his award wining production of ‘SWEENEY TODD’ Whether he is doing high art or a light-hearted Pantomime he shows the same level of respect for the work.
How has it been like working with such talented and experienced actors to bring this show together?
Working with a team of people who make you smile all day is a rare thing. I can most certainly say that from our very first read through of the show to the moment our day ends laughter abounds. This makes the working process fun and has surely given me that extra little bit of energy to get up in the morning. Not even gloomy Joburg traffic could get me down knowing that I’m going to work to be with a crazy team of happy people!
How has the experience been different from everything you have ever done?
Pantomime is just different because of its style. Its very specific and very heightened and any actor who has ever done one will tell you that it’s HARD work.
Can you describe Puss and Boots to people who have not seen the play, in a sentence?
This show is a high octane explosion of color, light and music that will fuel both the young and old.
Follow your dream with a hunger that is insatiable. Ask lots of questions on how to get into a show. You’d be surprised how taking your own initiative can open your own doors. Try doing a job shadow to see if it is really what you want to do. Work everyday towards your goal. I have been doing this for over a decade and everyday is an opportunity to learn something new. Always be open to learning and your set to embark on an incredible life journey.
Is there anything for you in the pipeline for the future?
My pipeline is filled with many exciting twists and turns and I am very much looking forward to working on a production of EVITA later on in the year, which will be touring both South Africa and overseas.
By: Kriszti Bottyan