Josh Piterman was traipsing around Tuscany Italy when he received a phone call from John Foreman, inviting Piterman to perform ‘Nessun Dorma’ live on the steps of the Sydney Opera House as part of the Australia Day Concert – an event broadcast live on television around the country.
Piterman immediately doubted his ability. He’d never sung live on television, but he “embraced his fears and agreed to do it”.
That performance was a huge moment in Josh Piterman’s career, but more importantly it was about Piterman proving to himself that he could cope with the fears and stress of such a significant event.
“Singing on live tv is nerve-wracking – well singing ‘Nessun Dorma’ is firstly! I didn’t get ‘Twinkle Twinkle’! I got ‘Nessun Dorma’ with big production values! It was scary, but more than scary it was exhilarating! I’ve never felt such an emotional high in a performance and post a performance as I did in that,” Piterman reflected.
Piterman said there was a moment midway through the song, as he looked out across the sea of people at the steps of the Sydney Opera House, when he became quite emotional as the enormity of the occasion was realised.
“A huge smile came across my face and I’m so glad the camera didn’t get any footage of it, because I looked like such an absolute geek, but I was just peaking in the moment, and I thought let’s just go for this. I felt like I was on my own team and just cheering myself on. In a really spiritual way, it was like I was witnessing my own life and really enjoying it.”
It’s a moment he craves to experience again.
Following that performance, Josh Piterman received a call from producer Michael Cassel (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hamilton, Beautiful, Kinky Boots) who asked Piterman what he was planning to do with his dream to do a concert tour of his recently released album.
“When creating the album I always wanted to do it live and I feared there wouldn’t be an opportunity for it,” said Piterman.
Josh Piterman had worked for Michael Cassel on his award winning Australian production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical and has a huge respect for Cassel.
“He is just so personable and cares about everyone. He understands that if the show’s a Rolls Royce, every piece of that car is vital to making it work.”
So when Michael Cassel asked Josh Piterman if he was going to pursue his dream of a concert tour, Piterman sought out his advice and received much more assistance than he could have hoped for. The concert tour is now a reality.
It’s a long way from being an “untalented” high school student.
Josh Piterman was a private schooled Melbourne student, headed towards a career in either medicine or physiotherapy when midway through his final year of high school, he changed paths and decided to pursue a career in musical theatre.
His parents were not impressed, but he feels they had every right to be concerned.
“I wasn’t very talented then Allison. Of the major three components that make up musical theatre, I wasn’t good at any of them. So the trepidation that they had was warranted!,” laughed Josh Piterman, adding, “Very much so!”
“In hindsight it actually was a crazy career path for me to choose, because unlike so many people I went to uni with, who had these vast histories of dance and singing training … since they were 5 or 6 years old … I was so far behind the eight ball,” explained Piterman.
However, while Josh Piterman says he may have lacked natural talent, he certainly had the passion and drive. He was accepted in the Bachelor of Arts (Music Theatre) at Federation University in Ballarat.
“I think I got through for the first year or so of uni just being the most passionate person there and being deluded about where I fit in in terms of talent!” he chuckled.
Despite their initial concerns, Piterman’s parents supported their son and gave him his early performance opportunities.
“When I was starting out, they always got me to sing at dinner parties or things with their friends, and I was always so nervous for that, but people say you’re probably more nervous to sing in front of 10 people than 10,000 people,” he said.
Piterman feels this prepared him for the pressure of the audition process and the close proximity of the audition panel. Upon graduation Josh Piterman commenced his career performing with the international group The Ten Tenors. A few years later he made his professional theatre debut as Tony in West Side Story. Further work followed including Hairspray, An Officer and a Gentleman, Kismet, A Light in the Piazza, Blood Brothers, The Last Five Years and playing Bustopher Jones/Gus/Growltiger in Cats, a role that won him the Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actor. Most recently, audiences saw Josh Piterman play Gerry Goffin in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
Piterman says he has no regrets with anything he’s done, including taking some time out and stepping away from performance for about 18 months and working as a personal trainer in the fitness industry.
“I was tired and burnt out and needed something else to do and doing the fitness thing was really good because it made me realise what I really do want to do with life is this – and since coming back to it in 2014/2015 I’ve come back with a much deeper love and appreciation,” shared Piterman.
The only advice he’d give his younger “untalented” school-boy self would be: “You can stop and slow down and smell some roses and when people are telling you to do yoga and meditate you should listen to that because it will help you.”
It’s advise that Piterman admits it took him quite some time to realise.
Josh Piterman’s concerts will include songs from his album, but also some additional songs. He admits he has a massive eclectic library of songs, but feels most comfortable singing a “pseudo classical” style. He chose songs he loves to sing and those that worked for his style.
“They’re the songs I’m passionate about,” Piterman explained.
“I wanted to go back to some of my roots as a performer and sing something from West Side Story and sing something from my dream show, which is Phantom of the Opera, I’ve always wanted to do that show.”
The concert tour will be the first time Josh Piterman has performed some of these songs live. He said the show has a very easy, off-the-cuff conversational style.
“I want people to feel that they can know me and I don’t have anything to hide,” said Piterman.
“I think it’s going to be really fun. We’re getting rid of the ties, at times getting rid of the shoes, doing my best to break the stereotype that sits with classical music. It’s classical music but it’s not a classical show.”
Joining Josh Piterman for his concert in Sydney will be Georgia Wilkinson, while Georgina Hopson will join his concerts in both Brisbane and Melbourne.
Josh Piterman is incredibly excited about finally brining these incredible songs to a live audience.
“Live is always better.”
For more details: joshpiterman.com.au
Sat 8 June, 8pm – Eternity Playhouse, Darlinghurst
Sat 22 June, 2pm & 8pm – Alex Theatre, St Kilda, Melbourne