Geoff Sirett will sing the main role of Akakiy in the upcoming Tapestry/CanStage premiere of James Rolfe and Morris Panych’s The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring based on the absurdist short story by Gogol. I put some questions to Geoff about him, the piece and his role in it.
Here’s the Q & A.
The Overcoat is a comedy. Not many new operas are! So… What experience do you have playing in comedy?
I have a fair bit of comedic stage experience. Character’s like Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte), Snug (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Captain Corcoran (HMS Pinafore), Maximilian (Candide), and the like. Akakiy, the protagonist of The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring, is far from a comedic character, however. The circumstances and characters that surround him build the comedic world of the story, but for Akakiy (and the actor portraying him), the story runs more like a tragedy. There is an acting cliché that is fitting to describe this role: comedy is not something you do, it’s something that happens. You don’t play comedy, you play the sincerity of the character, and comedy happens.
How is it different from an actor/singer’s point of view than a more “serious” work?
As I mentioned, in my case this story feels more like a tragedy. Or a tragicomedy. Akakiy is actually one of the most dramatic roles I’ve ever done, and it has been a big challenge for me.
Is it fun?
The rehearsal process has been incredibly fun. Although my character is more serious, I have a front row seat to witness the comedic chops of my colleagues (a cast of 13 in total) who are exceptionally talented singing actors. It’s hard to keep a straight face sometimes!
Which do you prefer; comedy or tragedy?
This is both, so luckily I don’t have to choose. Comedy, I think, comes more naturally to me, but I enjoy the creative challenge that comes with drama/tragedy.
What’s the best thing about The Overcoat?
The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring is totally and utterly unique. It represents a fusion of creative worlds and theatrical styles. That’s the best thing about the show: it’s something new.
How would you describe the musical style of The Overcoat and what special challenges does it pose for a singer?
James Rolfe has written a score that is so beautifully fused with the libretto, it is hard to say where one starts and the other begins. The style in many ways straddles the territory of musical theatre and opera. James has written beautiful melodies and memorable themes in a tonal world that is inviting to a wide audience. At the same time, its construction is masterful, detailed, and far from simple. He knows the voice well and writes idiomatically, which is a blessing for all singers!
Who should come and see it (resist the temptation to say “everyone”!)?
Theatre lovers of all walks will certainly enjoy the piece. Theatre, drama, musical theatre, opera, dance; there is a place for everyone. For people who are not traditional theatre goers, you should come if you have $35-$99 and are interested/able to spend it on an enjoyable and unique experience.
So there you go. The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring runs from March 29th to April 14th (Previews March 28/29th) at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at canadianstage.com
Photo credit: Dahlia Katz.