BWW Interviews: LES MISERABLES' Ian Patrick Gibb Talks New CD
Ian Patrick Gibb is currently touring with the LES MISÉRABLES U.S. Tour playing Jean Prouvaire and understudying for Marius. He recently released a new CD called "Fill in the Words." It is a compilation of songs defining the many meanings of the word "Love." Ian's choice of music fit well with his rich voice and the strength of each song. It's a must have for any collector of Broadway music. In a recent interview, Ian shared with me his musical passion and the labor of love which has become his first CD.
Your first role in theatre was Oliver when you were 11 years old. Tell us about getting the part for Oliver and how your parents talked you into auditioning.
My parents wanted me to be well rounded when I was growing up so they pushed me to do a bunch of different things. I played all the sports, I took piano lessons and I used to sing with my sister a lot. They recognized something that I didn't even know. I sang in a choir in Arizona. There was an audition notice for Oliver. People had been telling them that I would make a good Oliver. My sister had been doing plays too. One night after a piano lesson, they said they wanted me to go audition for the show and I said, "No, I don't want to do that." They didn't listen to me and they drove me to the audition. I sat there and I cried and said I didn't want to do it. They had the director come sit and talk with me for a little while. He said, "That's fine if you don't want to audition but if you do, you can come back tomorrow and audition." And I said no again. At the time, I was playing baseball and didn't like it. My dad came up and said that if I auditioned for the show that I could quit baseball. So, I auditioned for it and ended up getting Oliver. Little did they know that I would fall in love with it and find out it was what I would want to do for a living.
Is that where you got the "bug?"
Yes, totally. I was obsessed with doing musicals after that.
Pre-med to Music? How did that happen?
I always felt pressure to go into something that involved money just because both my parents worked in the financial aspect of their careers. They always stressed about money so that's what I thought I needed to do. I've always been good at math and science growing up so I thought I would do pre-med and become a doctor. I attended Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas for 2 years. I felt like I was going through the motions. I could have done it, but I wouldn't have been happy. I decided to leave the school and leave San Antonio. I needed to do what I loved to do which was theatre and my parents totally supported that. My mom keeps telling me that she goes to work every day and she doesn't really enjoy her job. She thinks it's wonderful that I wake up every day and do a job that I love to do and always want to do.
What did you like about San Antonio?
I loved the Riverwalk. I also went and saw my first national tour at the Majestic Theatre. I remember going to see "The Little Shop of Horrors" at the Majestic. It was so cool because we just returned to San Antonio with the show. It was full circle. I saw my first national tour there and then I came through with LES MISÉRABLES national tour. I loved Six Flaggs, the Superman ride and Seaworld. I loved Trinity's campus. It overlooks the downtown area. It was a fantastic city.
Then you left San Antonio and went to Oklahoma?
I decided a week before my junior year that I didn't want to go back to Trinity. So, I stayed in Wichita for a semester and then transferred to Oklahoma City University in the Spring of 2006. I did a Bachelor's of Music and musical theatre and I graduated from there in 2009. It's a great school. I had a fantastic vocal teacher. He taught me everything I know about singing. I'm very grateful for him. It trained me very well for this career. I'm happy that I made the switch.
I really love the new CD and have gotten to listen to a lot of it. I was so impressed with many of the songs. One that really struck me was, "When She Loved Me." You did a great job with it. And I love "Run Away with Me." How did you decide to do a CD?
I always wanted to do an album. People have been telling me for a couple of years now, my parents especially. I wanted to get established in my career before I wanted to go forward with an album. The album is themed around the different aspects of love. Love is something I feel that everyone can relate to in some way in their lives. I wanted to incorporate a variety of songs that did that. There's a song for everyone in the album. There are songs about meeting your love for the first time and how exciting that is songs about saying goodbye or about losing the ones you love and how sad and emotional that can be. Sometimes you don't have the ability to express how you truly feel about somebody. That is where the title of the album came from. You're given the word love and now you need to fill in the words with your feelings and experiences with it. I think the great thing about is that everyone's interpretation will be different. I think the variety of people listening to the album will enjoy different songs because they can relate to certain songs more than others.
How did you decide on which songs to include?
Over the course of my college years, there have been songs that stuck out in my mind. "Run Away with Me" is a song that I did for my senior showcase. It's a really fantastic song and it's an exciting song about expressing your feelings about love for the first time and telling them will you run away with me and spend our lives together. I don't have the ability to express my feelings about love so that's where the other songs come from. I wanted to go with that theme throughout the whole album.
Did you record it while on the road?
With our tour, there are certain cities that we have longer sit downs in. We were in Washington DC for 5 weeks at the Kennedy Center. We were there for October and the first part of November. I decided over the summer that it would be a great place to record. I researched recording studios in the DC area. The place I recorded it at was Cue Recording Studios in Falls Church, Virginia. They had a great studio. The person I collaborated with, Will Curry, who is our concert master for the show (Les Miserables), did the arrangements and orchestrating for all of it. He contracted the musicians. We used a couple musicians from our show and then the drummer was the percussionist for the National Symphony. We had a fantastic cellist come in and do that. We recorded over two ten-hour days on our days off. Then we spent a couple of afternoons mixing with the sound engineer. Then it was about 5 months back and forth with the mixing through emails. We were able to get it accomplished which is good.
Which song is your favorite?
There are 3 favorites that I have. "What do I Need with Love" is one of my favorites. I love the show Thoroughly Modern Millie. "Run Away with Me" is another and then "Sarah" from The Civil War. It's based on a true story of a letter that was written by a soldier that ended up dying in the war. This was the note that he sent back to his love. The context of that song makes it even more powerful.
You have been with the Les Miserables tour from the very beginning.
Yes, we started rehearsals in New York City in October of 2010. We did a run at the Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey in November and December and finally hit the road in January of 2011. I've been with it since the very beginning. It's coming up on 2 years which is crazy.
What are some of your best memories of being on the road?
I like being on the road. I think it's great. You get to explore the country. I never get tired of the show because we're only in cities for 1 or 2 weeks so you get to explore the city and you get to immerse yourself in the local areas and then you leave. It's very refreshing to get to see new cities. Getting to explore this country is one of the great aspects of touring. Some of my favorite things about touring are that the people who can't go to New York to see a show, we can bring a show like Les Mis to new cities and having a new generation of people seeing the show and falling in love with it like I did when I was 10 years old. I think bringing the show around the country has been wonderful. It's a fun job to have when you're young and not tied down to anything.
How are you the same and how are you different from Jean Prouvaire, the character you play in LES MISÉRABLES?
When I read the book and when we talked about the characters in rehearsal, a lot of Jean Prouvaire; I feel like I am a lot of the character. He's sensitive, he believes in love, he has a high voice, he's emotional, and he writes poetry. It's kind of me in a nutshell. One dissimilar characteristic is that in the show my character has this really gaudy floral vest that I have to wear and a green waist coat and pants. It's just ridiculous. I hope I have a better sense of style than Jean Prouvaire had.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is thinking about pursuing a career in theatre?
In this world, you need to do what you love. If theatre is something you love to do, you should go for it. You shouldn't be worried about the money. Really work hard, practice a lot. Stay positive. Don't ever get jaded or bitter. You can easily go that route. If you're nice to work with and you're talented and you love what you do, it is very important.
If you had not become a performer, what profession would you have pursued?
Looking back, I don't think I would have been a doctor. Do be honest; I think I would have loved to have been a sound engineer. I was always interested in the recording process growing up. I'm a big electronic geek. I think that might have been more where I would have gone if I didn't do theatre.
Ian Patrick Gibb's new CD, "Fill in the Words" is now available on iTunes. Go to "Fill in the Words." Ian continues to tour with the LES MISÉRABLES U.S. Tour and can be seen in cities all over the United States. Go to LES MISÉRABLES website for upcoming dates and cities.