Broad­way Mas­ter

Ip­swich to host a spe­cial event for ris­ing stars

QT Magazine - - WEL­COME - BY DAR­REN HALLESY

THE idea of per­form­ing on Broad­way to most of us would be pure fan­tasy but Ip­swich will play a part in the next gen­er­a­tion of per­form­ers to maybe one day tread the boards in the most fa­mous the­atre lo­ca­tion on Earth. In­ter­na­tional per­former Dou­glas Web­ster, a man with more than 30 years ex­pe­ri­ence on stage, is for the first time bring­ing his Broad­way Mas­ters pro­gram to Aus­tralia next month, and he’s cho­sen Ip­swich as the lo­ca­tion. Over sev­eral days Dou­glas will share his ex­pe­ri­ences, knowl­edge and teach­ings with peo­ple from through­out Aus­tralia keen to learn from some­one who fol­lowed his dream of per­form­ing. Talk­ing from his home in Colorado, in the United States, Dou­glas is ex­cited by the cal­i­bre of peo­ple who have sent in au­di­tion videos for the course which has lim­ited num­bers and is fill­ing fast. “This is an ex­ten­sion of a class I started do­ing in 1999 and it’s ex­cit­ing to be com­ing to Ip­swich, we’ve al­ready ac­cepted some peo­ple, and I have lots more ap­pli­ca­tions to go through. “This is not a com­pet­i­tive pro­gram, as I’m look­ing for peo­ple who are lack­ing items in their skill set so at the end I can send them away with a com­plete set of skills. Of course if some­one has those al­ready I’ll help them im­prove.” A sea­soned per­former, Dou­glas has ex­pe­ri­enced life as part of a huge pro­duc­tion, and per­form­ing on stage takes lots of dis­ci­pline and com­mit­ment. “Do­ing a show on Broad­way is nor­mally eight shows spread over seven days. The only night you don’t do a show is Mon­day. “When I was due to start work on the Broad­way ver­sion of Les Mis­er­ables, my wife gave birth to our son, and I missed the first three days. “I had a new­born in the house, so it was more about get­ting sleep at night never mind the daily rou­tine of be­ing in a show. I think it’s a re­spon­si­bil­ity that there’s an en­ergy that a cast mem­ber needs to in­vest in the phys­i­cal­ity of the char­ac­ter in each scene, and I know that every­one do­ing this Broad­way Mas­ters event are do­ing it for the love of it. They want to be there. “I love the chal­lenge of tak­ing some­one and hav­ing them walk out with new skills they can take to their new per­for­mance.” Dou­glas was ex­pected to have a ca­reer in health, but al­ways had a love for mu­sic which led him to make a deal with his late fa­ther. “My whole fam­ily is in­volved in medicine and, at 17, my fa­ther asked me if I wanted to be the sixth gen­er­a­tion to have a ca­reer the same as them. “When I said no he im­me­di­ately asked what about mu­sic and I gave my­self ’til I was 26 years old. I said to my­self that I’ll do this ’til then and, if it’s not a suc­cess, I’ll re­think things. “On my 26th birth­day I was tour­ing Amer­ica with Les Mis­er­ables and mak­ing six fig­ures.”

au­di­tion­sHe has in ad­vicethe hope­for peo­pleof find­ing start­ing that in one the big in­dus­try,break. go­ing to “For me it’s not about be­ing thick skinned, it’s more about not tak­ing things per­son­ally. If I’m turned down for a job, my re­sume is not go­ing to look any bet­ter if I speak nicely to the peo­ple do­ing the hir­ing. I look at it as if you want a trades­man to work a ma­chine they need to know how to do that, I ac­cept that. “When you walk out and say ‘Thank you and good­bye’, you can’t pos­si­bly know what all the rea­sons are for you not get­ting a role,” Dou­glas said. “Your job is to show up, do the best to your abil­ity, and they will re­mem­ber you. They’ll seek you out and say ‘You weren’t right for that role but you’ll be good for this one’, that’s all you can hope for. “I think if I could go back and tell my 18-year-old self any­thing, it would be get into real es­tate to be hon­est. I could have paid $18,000 for a block of land that’s now worth $2 mil­lion,” Dou­glas said. “As a per­former that’s hard to say, I’ve been so happy with the way my life turned out. Ev­ery de­ci­sion I’ve made I’ve been com­fort­able with. Some have cost me but I sup­pose the best ad­vice you can give to a young per­son is to learn, and then learn more. I’ve learned things from peo­ple be­cause they know a lot and it’s worth mak­ing the time.” Dou­glas has a house in South Park, Colorado. Yes, THAT South Park that we all know and love from the TV show, which has left the town di­vided. “Yes, I live in the real South Park in Colorado. Half the pop­u­la­tion love the car­toon, the other half hates it. I taught in South Park for a year as a mu­sic teacher. Some of the kids in my class re­mem­bered be­ing in­ter­viewed as part of the re­search for the show when they were in Grade 3. “The cre­ators of the show grew up near South Park. I was part of a pro­duc­tion in Latvia, in the old USSR, once and the news­pa­per there wanted me on a horse out the front of the South Park saloon for a mag­a­zine photo…they were more in­ter­ested in the fact that I was from South Park than the show I was do­ing.” At the Broad­way Mas­ters event, Dou­glas teams up with Mary Se­trakian (pic­tured above), who trained Nicole Kid­man for her role in the block­buster Moulin Rouge, so they make a team packed with ex­pe­ri­ence. “I’ve very ex­cited about Broad­way Mas­ters in Ip­swich,” Dou­glas said. “I couldn’t be hap­pier the way the pro­gram is go­ing. The par­tic­i­pants are go­ing to come away with some re­ally valu­able in­for­ma­tion and I’m look­ing for­ward to shar­ing it. I have three for­mer stu­dents who are now per­form­ing on Broad­way and three more who are teach­ing mu­sic.”

PHOTO: STEPHEN B. THORN­TON

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

Dou­glas Web­ster in ‘Les Mis’ (above) and meet­ing Pope John Paul II

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