Naomi Price, Wrecking Ball
Success is a curious mixture of understanding and compassion, belief and determination, and mastering the ability to stop every once in a while to realise how much you have and how far you’ve come ...
It takes a certain kind of talent to masterfully fill the role of Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Adele, and then shimmy into the scant crop-top-and-undie combo of tabloid phenomenon Miley Cyrus. But it’s a transformation Naomi Price shoulders with ease, as she lends her incredible vocal and acting talents to the role in new production, Wrecking Ball. Tagged as the ‘next big thing’ in cabaret, Naomi not only sings, acts and dances, but also directs, produces and dreams for The Little Red Company production house. Ahead of her gutsy Wrecking Ball performance at Brisbane Powerhouse later this month, the UK-born and Brisbane-based talent took a break from rehearsals to fill The Weekend Edition in on where she’s come from and where she’s headed.
Can you tell us a bit about your childhood growing up in Brighton, England?
Mum and Dad instilled a handsome love and respect in us for the arts – our house was filled with music, we watched ballets and classical concerts like they were going out of fashion. My siblings and I were constantly quoting Disney films and working out how to play instruments, although my brothers were markedly better at that than I was! I have a darling family and so my memories are rarely about the geographical location and almost always about being with people I love, usually laughing.
What were you like as a child? Were you always drawn to performing?
I think I knew when I was five that I loved being onstage. By the age of ten, following my lauded appearance as little orphan Molly in Annie, I absolutely knew.
Can you remember your first role?
I was four years old when I scored the role of Angel/Fairy in my nursery school Christmas show. I was desperately in love with Thomas, who played the coveted lead role of Toymaker and had an eyeliner-pencilled moustache. We still have a copy of it somewhere on VHS, demonstrating my impeccable ability to do the ‘ballet’ moves in time with the music. Not sure what happened to my dancing prowess, but it’s dropped off over the years …
What do you love about performing live?
It’s a universal experience – for that moment, those people in that theatre share that unique performance and then it’s over. It can never be recreated. It was just for that time. I love that! I also love that when the lights go down, you could be anywhere in the world. But for that two-hour period, you belong in the world of the play.
You’ve been blessed with your fair share of talents, but if you were allowed just one more, what would it be?
An overactive metabolism.
What would be your dream role?
Anyone in Game of Thrones. Except Hodor.
Wrecking Ball will hit the Brisbane Powerhouse stage from May 28, what can local audiences expect from the show?
A rootin’ tootin’ twerkin’ good time! Miley’s a wild child – I hope to live up to everyone’s expectations of her and in the same show give them something completely unexpected.
You recently dazzled both crowds and critics in Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele. What are the best and worst parts of taking on another persona?
I love the distance from reality you feel when you play someone other than yourself; suddenly, it’s not you up for critique – it’s the character. You can do and say so much more, you can be outrageous, you can be braver. My least favourite thing – which used to be my most favourite thing – is the physical transformation. I loved playing Adele as I didn’t have to watch what I ate or drank; I could just pop the fat suit, wig and enormous lashes on and I was ready! Playing Miley involves copious hours at the gym and extremely boring eating habits …. I’ve literally dreamt about freshly baked cookies in the past week.
How did you navigate the major shift from Adele to Miley?
Our ‘Adele’ is self-effacing and wry – she comments truthfully about the nature of fame and celebrity in a very matter-of-fact way. She has that British sensibility about her that indicates she doesn’t take herself too seriously. Our ‘Miley’ on the other hand is confident, self-assured and brazen. She’s fearless and, in many ways, she’s a lot scarier for me to play! I feel the same sense of excitement and trepidation that I did when we first wrote Rumour Has It, except I’m very aware that Miley isn’t as likeable a public figure as Adele! Hopefully our show will make people feel differently about her …
We heard you love a tot of gin – is it involved in any pre-show rituals?
Gin was an absolute must for the Adele show; however, Miley’s gotta stay trim! I’m thinking maybe a sparkling water with lime? Vocal warm-ups, chats with my amazing band and the transformation process into my outrageous characters are my usual checkpoints for pre-show preparation.
You’re also co-director of The Little Red Company. Can you let us in on any upcoming projects?
We have plans to tour both Rumour Has It and Wrecking Ball both nationally and internationally, so we’re currently pouring our hearts and souls into those projects. Both my co-director Adam Brunes and I also have a long list of new shows we want to create – it’s just a case of when and with whom!
You currently sing, act, direct and produce – is there a particular direction you want to head in the future?
I’m loving the balance in my life right now; it’s project-based and I’m constantly moving from field to field. I love the diversity! I couldn’t be more thrilled to be making my debut for Queensland Theatre Company in June with their production of Gloria – for the first time since 2008 I’ll be able to focus solely on being an actor, and not worrying about promoting or producing the show! It’s going to be glorious. See what I did there?
We’ve heard whispers that you’re dating another singing talent, Luke Kennedy. How do two performers share the limelight? We’re imagining a constant karaoke-off …
One of the best things about Luke is that he doesn’t need to share the limelight – he just offers it to you. He’s an exceptional supporter, cheer captain and fan, he’s brilliantly secure in who he is and he’s very humble. I was prouder watching him place second on The Voice after months of hard work and sacrifice than of anything I’ve ever done. And I just realised that we’ve never done karaoke together – one for the bucket list!
What’s your idea of complete happiness?
Watching Celine Dion live in Las Vegas with a gin in my hand and a Bellagio room key in my pocket.
How do you define ‘success’?
For me, success is a curious mixture of understanding and compassion for others, belief and determination, and mastering the ability to stop every once in a while to realise how much you have and how far you’ve come.
FAVOURITE WEEKEND SPOT TO:
Perk-up … Shouk Cafe, Paddington – amazing Israeli cuisine and great coffee.
Relax … My back deck with friends.
Be inspired … Catching a show, watching a concert or checking out an exhibition.