The intrepid journeys of Phileas Fogg are soon to be witnessed in an Australian premiere of Around The World in 80 Days. Ellis productions and Aleksandar Vass are extremely excited to be bringing this show to the Alex Theatre, St.Kilda later this month with an all star cast of 3 actors performing an astonishing 39 characters in this epic tale of adventure.
TV, Film and respected theatre actor, Grant Piro, plays between 12 to 15 characters in this new adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic story. Reminiscent of The 39 Steps, the play’s demands on the actors is challenging but, for Piro, an enormous amount of fun.
“This interpretation of 80 Days is a genre that I’m very familiar with,” he says. “I spent a few years living in London, worked with and learned from some real masters of this kind of comedy. Jimmy Edwards, Ray Cooney, Maria Aitken, so I wasn’t daunted by the concept. I also helped to create The 39 Steps for Australia, and this is very similar. Some of the characters include a Scotland Yard detective. An Indian waiter. A royal Indian princess. A crusty old ships captain. Tons of fun. My favourite is the princess. When you play one character, you tend to mine as much out of their back story as you can to give them depth. With these characters it’s about making them as funny as I can and audience friendly.”
For Piro, the creation of a character has always been the best part of the process. “This rehearsal is quite short so I’ve had to come in with my bag of tricks all ready to go. There’s lots of laughing.”
It’s a project, it seems, Piro had to do. “As soon as I heard about it, I wanted to do it,” he says. Having never worked with other cast mates Pia Miranda or Ian Stenlake before, Piro was extremely keen to work with director Terence O’Connell. “He really understands the theatre so well,” says Piro.
Around the World in 80 days was published in 1873 and heralded (along with other Verne literature) as voyages extraordinaires. Verne had a profound impact on the literary genre of science fiction but is also remembered for the sheer majesty of his imaginative breadth.
Piro acknowledges that 19th century science fiction seems so naïve compared to today. “But science fiction writers are futurists, no matter what era they’re from,” he says. “They seem to be able to predict so much. I think De Vinci was amazing at what he was able to predict. Although I have my doubts about the author of ‘Back to the Future’…”
Piro has been an actor for 35 years, beginning his career in the Aussie soap opera Sons and Daughters. His career has not faltered since with his TV credits including almost everything from Janus to Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries. Piro has gained a reputation as one of Melbourne’s foremost theatre actors, working predominantly for the Melbourne Theatre Company with his performance in Realism, for the MTC, winning him critical acclaim.
Around The World In 80 Days is an amazing romp from London to Bombay which promises something for everyone.
Says Piro: ” It’s a great fun night of theatre. It’s for people who understand theatre and understand how much effort goes into a show like this. But it’s also for folks who’ve never been to the theatre, to see what this kind of entertainment has to offer. Adventure. Comedy. Crazy silly fun. And you won’t have think too hard. You’ll be too busy smiling. The hardest thing for the audience will be finding a park.”
August 23 – September 4