As Victorians eagerly await the Melbourne premiere season of the international award-winning Broadway and West End hit LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL, the producers are delighted to announce an exciting hometown return of a beloved local lad. After a 20-year absence from performing in Melbourne, Cameron Daddo is set to return in Australia’s biggest new hit musical.
Daddo was born and bred in Melbourne, first coming to the attention of Australian television viewers as the host of the children’s television show Off the Dish which soon led to him hosting his own program: The Cameron Daddo Cartoon Show. He made his mark on the Australian musical stage in Gordon/Frost’s Big River, winning several major awards for his critically acclaimed portrayal of Huckleberry Finn. Many stage roles were to follow as well as many critically acclaimed TV and film performances. Daddo became a household name when he took over as host of Perfect Match -an amazing achievement given Daddo was only 21 at the time making him the youngest prime time host in the history of Australian TV.
But, suggest Daddo, his younger years weren't an easy, or even preferred, transition into the performing arts because whilst he enjoyed Dick Van Dyke performances, all the Bond movies and Steve McQueen, he was more into honing his tennis, Aussie rules and music skills as well as grappling with a problem strikingly demonstrated in the film, The King's Speech. "I also had a very difficult time with a stutter, so I preferred to stay away from public speaking in any form," he explains. " Now in direct contradiction to that last statement, as a year 7 student I was drawn to an opportunity to play the artful dodger in Oliver. The director was the head master of my school named Mr Bob Brewster, he was kindly assisting me to overcome this stutter by encouraging me to meet him before school and read passages from the bible… it didn't work and I didn't get the part. I did however get a one-line role and the chance to sing. It scared the crap out of me, but in the same way I like to scratch at mosquito bites until they hurt, rehearsing and performing Oliver 5x, hurt so good."
This 'stint' in Oliver was to set the then 13 year old Daddo up for a theatrical event that Daddo still lists as one of his most challenging roles to date. Playing Huck Finn – which he describes as the "hamlet" of music theatre – in Big River was an experience that is perhaps not acknowledged as his most enjoyable but, he says, the feeling of accomplishment of doing it every night was a winner.
Daddo is of course an actor of film, television and stage but as to a preferred medium? I honestly don't have one," he states. "They all have their many alluring aspects. what makes the difference is the material I am playing and the director I am working with. when I am engaged by the story I am telling, besides being with my family, there is nothing I'd rather be doing. to me acting is such a privilege and noble profession… to be able to do it in any medium, is bliss."
Daddo (like so many of our talented actors) moved to LA about 20 yeas ago to etch out a place for himself in the US market. His list of credits speak for themselves: from guest spots on Boston Legal, Monk, 24, CSI, NCIS, Without A Trace to film roles including Big Mommas House 2 to Inland Empire Daddo has been a success. But what does the US market want form our actors and how do they really and what this means re. opportunities for an actor from down under." We have seen the US market open it's doors to Aussie actors in an incredible way particularly over the past decade," he explains. "When I arrived in Hollywood in the early 90's, I was encouraged to go into meetings with an American accent.. to "never let them know I was a foreigner" was the belief my managers and agents lived by. that belief has completed a full 180, today the networks and film producers are auditioning actors in Australia for US roles, that never happened. producers now know the wealth of talent that, like bamboo, keeps growing. because of the success and work ethic of those working in the US before them, (and I am talking about actors from Robert Taylor to Mel Gibson to tom Burlinson all the way to today's acclaimed actors and performers), the Aussie actor is getting a serious look… but that is as far as it goes. the actor has STILL to come up with the goods, a career in Hollywood or Broadway is never guaranteed… you still have to have what they want."
LA and New York are veritable breeding grounds for famous drama schools, teachers and techniques. Daddo has studied with many teachers in los Angeles. "Some good for me, some not so much," he says. " I've distilled what I needed from all these classes… method acting classes, substitution classes, dream workshops, Meisner, Moss, Chubbuck, the groundlings for comedy, audition prep classes… all with the aim to stay sharp, focused and… busy. I have learned from all of them… I subscribe to my feeling of- do everything I can to best tell the story, using the different means and techniques to stay in the moment. finding the best ways to create a reality (when what is really happening is a complete illusion) and I haven't even mentioned the best class of all- observing myself and others as we all navigate daily life."
Daddo was not a theater school trained actor, his training, he says, has also come on-the-job, observing and experiencing brilliant actors. "Early in my career- the late John Hargreaves and John Ewart, Kiwi- John Bach and Canadian- Kate Nelligan… I soaked them up… I watched, I listened and yes, I copied, the same as when I worked with folks who taught me, what NOT to do. I continue to learn from the artists I work with today… and getting older and hopefully wiser, have conspired to make me a more effective actor and performer."
So now Daddo is thrilled to be back after 20 years away from the stage – and, he says, the fact that he is playing a character that is so far from how he chooses to live his life has been wonderful. "I love playing him and being in company of excellent actors. I am so happy to be working in Melbourne on stage… and I hope the audiences are as excited as I am… though frankly, it's been so long, I am not sure they'll remember which Daddo I was! travelling with the play to Melbourne was really about the fact that I wanted to keep performing in legally blonde, I love it… and there's really no place in the world like Melbourne during footy season and on into spring… when I think about it… a great job, the people I grew up with , the city with the best golf, best beer/wine/eateries/pubs/footy… (I could go on)… it's no brainer. "
Legally Blonde is a multi award winning smart and sassy all dancing, romantic comedy about knowing who you are and showing what you've got! It's got smash hit written all over it. So, by he way, has our very own Cameron Daddo! So don't forget to grab a copy of his new CD from the merchandise counter, bring it to stage door so he can sign it "… and we can have a laugh about what an bastard I am… no really, I am!"
Legally blonde The Musical at The Princess Theatre from Thursday May 9