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BWW Interview: Adam Rennie

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A catch up with Australian performer Adam Rennie.

BWW Interview: Adam Rennie
Photography by Johnny Diaz Nicolaidis

Adam Rennie is an Australian performer based out of New York City. He has performed in a wide range of musicals in Australasia, North America and Asia. Since he is currently waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic in his hometown of Sydney and I am stuck in Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne, I seized an opportunity to catch up with him via Zoom.

Rennie and I both trained at The Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, so we start the conversation with some candid memories of our own experiences. He remarks how graduating during the height of The Global Financial Crisis was "a bit of an interesting time".

We concur that the first few years out of drama school can be tough and he mentions how they are "as informative as your three years at drama school". To help pass his time between auditions after graduating, Rennie and two fellow 2008 WAAPA graduates, Nat Jobe and Tessa Hurst, came up with a mockumentary YouTube series called Wheels of a Dream. Parodying their own lives as three inspiring professional musical theatre performers, Wheels of a Dream quickly grew an Australian music theatre cult following. A plethora of collegians, including myself, instantly related to the hilarious antics of these three lovable housemates.

During his first few years out of WAAPA, Rennie also performed around Australia with educational theatre company Echelon Productions and appeared in The Production Company's season of Crazy For You. He then toured South Korea and Taiwan in Jekyll & Hyde. He remarks that "touring is amazing... it's incredible to see parts of the world that you wouldn't necessarily find yourself in... I learned so much on that tour... the ups and downs and just negotiating how to show up and do a show... the same thing over and over again".

On his return to Australia, Rennie was cast in the original Australian production of Love Never Dies. When he reminisces about the spectacle of this production's design, his eyes light up. "The first time I walked into the theatre my mind was more than blown... the design was so intricate and perfect for that show, it was then I think I truly understood what the show we were putting on was."

When Love Never Dies closed, Rennie made the bold decision to relocate to New York. "I loved the city; I loved that energy and I wanted to have a time in my life where I was part of that. I didn't care if I would end up on Broadway or if I was singing downstairs in a basement in Brooklyn, which I definitely did!" A relocation halfway across the world to the 'Land of the Free' is a huge undertaking. It can be emotionally, financially and professionally taxing. "I was very prepared to be there for six months and crash and burn and to come home, but that was eight years ago! I have had the incredible experiences that everyone has in New York and I have also felt the hard slog of the city... I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Perhaps not being afraid to fail is what gave Rennie success when he was cast as the male lead, Nick, in the North American tour of Flashdance the Musical. I quiz him on the differences of touring in North America. "Touring in America is a well-oiled machine and so we were moving fast. We had a two week stretch when we're doing one-nighters... you drive to a venue, you walk in and the crew have already bumped in the show, you do a sound check, you do a show, you get on the bus, you go to the hotel, you sleep, you get up at 6:00am, you drive to the next venue. I think there's nothing that prepares you for being that tired... but it is a really great way to learn how to show up for an audience every time, no matter how tired you are."

Rennie also elaborates on what it meant for him personally to play the role of Nick. "Being cast as a leading man is a great moment for someone who's open and out and queer.... to know that it doesn't have to be a hindrance, was a huge high"

The Court Theatre, Christchurch
Curtis Brown Photography

Despite being based in New York, Rennie next returned to Australia to appear in The Rocky Horror Show. Originally cast as Eddie/Dr Scott, Rennie unexpectedly took over the lead role of Frank-N-Furter during the Show's Adelaide season. Anyone who has ever been backstage when a cast change is announced to an audience, will tell you that a long sigh of disappointment normally can be heard from the auditorium. In an attempt to try and avoid hearing this, Rennie says he began "running down the hallway to my dressing room, so I could get away from the stage. As I was halfway down the hall, instead of hearing groans or sighs, I just heard a giant cheer from the audience, through the walls of the theatre. I stopped running and I was like, oh, this is going be great... I just get to put on some fishnets and heels... I just get to do the show... so it became a very empowering moment".

Following on from this success he flew 'across the ditch' to appear as the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, at The Court Theatre in Christchurch. A role of a lifetime for any actor, Rennie talks about his deep connection to Hedwig. "Her humanity is unlike anything and that story is so moving for me as a queer person". Performing in Christchurch just after the horrific 2019 mosque shootings, meant performing for a city that was in disbelief and grief. "I think Christchurch were really ready to hear that story... people who didn't think that they would understand her or have anything in common with her, ended up seeing themselves in that larger than life story."

For more information on what Rennie will be getting up to post COVID-19 visit or find him on Instagram @adamjrennie

BWW Interview: Adam Rennie
The Court Theatre in Christchurch

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