Josh is a well established Australian musical theatre performer and classical crossover artist who has worked prolifically since he graduated from Federation University in Ballarat, Victoria with a Bachelor of Arts (Music Theatre) in 2006. Josh kicked off his career performing with the International pop opera group The Ten Tenors and he then made his mark as Tony in the 2010 Australian production of West Side Story.
His other musical theatre credits include Bustopher Jones/Gus/Growltiger in the 2016 season of Cats, a role that won him the Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actor in A Musical; Edward in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers; Corny Collins in the UK tour of Hairspray; The Caliph in Kismet; Giuseppe in The Light in the Piazza; Jamie in The Last Five Years and most recently Gerry Goffin in the Australian tour of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
In 2018 his debut self titled album went to number 1 on both the Aria and iTunes Charts (Classical Crossover) in Australia. Piterman currently lives in London where prior to the closure of theatres due to Covid-19, he was portraying the titular role in The Phantom of the Opera.
Recently, I spoke to Josh about a variety of topics including theatre, life in London and his passion for mental health advocacy.
What was your first role and show in both community and professional theatre?
I played Tyrone Jackson in Fame The Musical at Wesley College in 2002 and professionally, Tony in the Australian Tour of West Side Story, in 2010/11.
Is there a specific moment that you can pinpoint when you made up your mind that you wanted to perform, was it a particular performance you attended or a performer?
As a professional, I put it down to a series of moments between year 11 and 12 that really inspired me to pursue this path. But specifically, I think watching ‘The Hey Mr Producer’ (A tribute to Cameron Mackintosh) DVD and listening to the Anthony Warlow Best of Act 1 CD were two very big inspirations. Especially as someone who’d barely come across musicals till I was 16 or 17, watching and listening to those blockbuster show tunes was like entering into a new and exciting world.
You moved away from where you grew up to study theatre, what advice would you have for people who are planning to relocate to study?
For me going to Ballarat was the best decision I could have made at that time. It taught me so much about myself at that age and gave me the space to focus on my craft away from the social pressures of Melbourne, which helped a real novice improve a lot. Yes, I missed my friends and family at times but I knew they were only a 90 minute drive down the road. That Ballarat bubble and that community was something very special, I loved it and have some of the most fondest memories of that time and the people I shared it with.
Who are your inspirations or mentors in the theatre community and why?
Thats an interesting question, one I often get asked. I don’t really have mentors within the community, my mentors come from different areas of life. My mates and colleagues within the industry inspire me everyday. I watch their work and I’m inspired, I see how they treat people, how charitable they are and I’m inspired. Especially during covid-19, there have been so many beautiful acts of service by people in our industry. We are seeing some of the best of our industry in this time.
It is easy sometimes to become very focused on ourselves especially performing on what it literally a big stage for you, how important is it for you that performers, FOH staff, crew etc. are all treated with respect?
It’s everything and it’s absolute basic common decency. I sort of feel like it should go without saying that one human treats another with respect, but I know thats sadly not always the case in the theatre. I’ve witnessed maltreatment in the theatre and I have no time or energy for it. Come from a place of ‘love’. It’s at the root of all of us and the world can never have too much of it.
Some performers find it challenging to shut down after an evening performance, are you an I crash easily or a I need to get rid of energy before I can even attempt to sleep kind of person?
Definitely a ‘crash easily’ kind of person. I tend to start winding down on the journey home and I’m often asleep within an hour of coming home. I just have to make sure I don’t have too much to eat (even though I’m often starving) or else I don’t have very happy sleeps and we get a grumpy Joshua the next day.
You use meditation frequently in your life, what are your favourite apps or CD’s to use?
Well there’s lots and I can’t say I endorse one more than the other, but some of the ones I’ve had very good experiences with are One Giant Mind, Headspace and Calm Collective. Honestly, for anyone who’s never mediated before, there are countless apps, YouTube vids etc to help you to stop and sit in silence, which is wonderful, especially during Covid-19 which has sparked a lot of fear and anxiety within the community.
How are you staying show fit at the moment especially with not having an exact date of when the show will be returning to the stage? Is it easier to know a start date in terms of being able to go into a show in peak preparation?
I think when it’s time to know an exact date for a return to the show, we will and having a level of acceptance around that is healthy. Obviously in all previous cases, I’ve known what the rehearsal dates and opening dates will be, but this is unlike anything any of us have experienced before so we can only deal with what comes as it is presented to us. So to keep show fit, I’m running a few days a week (with a bit of a light goal in mind), doing some yoga and some basic strength work with bands.
I’m back having vocal lessons and working on my singing technique, and trying to sing regularly in ways I wasn’t singing during the show, exploring new material but also singing The Phantom material quite regularly too.
You like to become fully invested when you prepare to play a role, is there anything you did specifically for Phantom?
For The Phantom, the work came from the material and that wonderful Lloyd Webber score. I don’t think I have ever studied a score that hard. I went into day 1 of rehearsals, knowing every dot and every lyric on every page as perfectly as I could. I also came up with a lot of ideas for my interpretation of this iconic role and these were met so openly and warmly by the creatives, which was lovely.
You quite literally went on a World Tour from your lounge room, how did you come up with that idea and what were your most enjoyable parts of the tour? Do you have any upcoming online performances?
It was pretty simple, I wanted to find a way to share a little bit of joy, fun, silliness and music during this uneasy time and combine it with singing some of my favourite songs in various languages from around the world and also include some of my favourite people to guest appear. With a bit of help from my management, the ‘Self-Iso Insta Live World Tour’ was born and it was just the best. Im still not sure if it needs another life or not but time will tell. Josh said to Direct Message him if you’re desperate for a rebirthing!
His next performance will be a part of the Newfound Hope Songs initiative. Further information can be found at https://www.adamblanshay.com/nhsongs
You are mad Doggies supporter (Western Bulldogs AFL for the non- Australian fans), were you born into a mad Doggies family? How did you become a fan and do you remember the first live game you saw?
My Dad co-owned a little property in Footscray in the 80’s which became the Bulldogs souvenir shop not long after I was born. I recall going in with him at a pretty young age and being decked out from head to toe in Doggies gear. Dad, who grew up a Carlton supporter had no option but to jump on the Dogs bandwagon with me from then on (the best decision he’s made given Carlton’s last 20 years lol).
Some of the best days I can remember are at the footy with Dad, I cant recall my first game, but there were a couple of freezing cold trips to Whitten Oval before we got reserve seats when the Dog’s moved to Optus Oval (Princess Park) in 1997. I can certainly remember a few of those days vividly.
Chomping down baked potatoes on centre wing with him (so so good). Obviously the Grand Final in 2016 was an amazing day as was that whole finals series. 20 years of going to the footy together , plenty of ups and down, and finally a premiership. It was magical and very emotional for us both!
Is there a player that you look at and say “I would like to be able to reflect on those skills and learn how to utilize them in my career or everyday life?”
Probably Luke Hodge. I think he always leads by example and does the right things by the team. He’s also happy to sit in that middle ground between being educated and being the educator, which I really respect.
If there was a time in history that you could go back to when and where would it be and why?
There are way too many to go back to, so its impossible to choose one. I feel I’ve lived a very blessed life and I’m forever reminded of that. I guess rather than going back, the one thing I’m most looking forward to right now is the next family meal back at home, whenever that may be. With Lotte, my folks, my sister, her partner and my nephews. I can’t wait for that!
I know you travel a lot, are you a I get to the airport before check in opens or right before it closes person?
I’m the early bird who catches the worm. Soooo many worms.
Who would you say is the better cook, you or Lotte? and have you used this time to improve or learn any dishes?
Definitely me…LOL! I don’t want to blow my own trumpet here but Lotte will agree with me on this one too. We have both delved into the unknown with cooking these past couple of months, some tragedies and some great successes. We also went Vegan (well almost Vegan) on Jan 1st so this has given us an opportunity to explore loads of recipes we were yet to try.
Mentally, how are you looking after yourself at a time where there is so much information, news and somewhat sadness? How important is mental health for you during this time?
It’s extremely important and I’ve spoken to people dear to me who suffer from mental health problems who have found this time either liberating or terribly stressful. Obviously I meditate twice a day, but thats something I’ve done for a while and I think has held me in good stead during this time. Just to be able to see the forest from the trees, witnessing my thoughts and therefore witnessing the situation and knowing that I can do very little other than ‘controlling the controllables’. I tend not to watch the news all the time. One update a day is enough.
I keep a daily gratitude journal, which once again I’ve done for some time, just to write down the things, people and moments in my life which I am grateful for right now. Yes, this time is awful for many, the loss of life, the ill, the economic turmoil on individuals, families and countries, but this is also a beautiful time to stop and reflect, to re-connect with loved ones, to be creative, to slow down, to read that book, develop a hobby and to go inwards spiritually. So I’ve tried to make the best of the situation, knowing that this too shall pass.
Do you have a message for the Australian Theatre Community?
I’m thinking of everyone in the industry and my heart goes out to those who’ve lost their jobs or who’ve been cast in shows that have now been cancelled. I love the Australian Theatre Community so much, it will always be home and I hope and pray that Australia is one of the first to get back on its feet when the curtains begin to rise again across the world again.
You can keep up to date with Josh on the following social media channels:
Thank you for your time Josh !