BWW Interview: Nick Hardcastle On Bringing the Life of Orry-Kelly To The Thea-ta
A limited 'sneak peek' run of Gentleman-George Production's ORRY will begin November 1, 2019 at The Lee Strasberg Theatre. Writer/performer Nick Hardcastle has adapted Oscar-winning costume designer Orry-Kelly's memoirs Women I've Dressed for a ninety-minute stage production (directed by Wayne Harrison) incorporating music, dance, vaudeville, puppetry, special effects and some of Orry-Kelly's award--winning creations. I had the chance to ask a few questions of Nick, in between his many, many responsibilities - theatrical and otherwise.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Nick!
My pleasure - thank YOU for helping me spread the word about ORRY!
Your production company Gentleman George Productions holds the stage and screen adaptation rights to Orry-Kelly's memoir Women I've Dressed, that ORRY is based on. What first got you interested in Orry-Kelly?
Orry-Kelly is from a small coastal town in New South Wales, just like me. He was a pioneer for Australians in Hollywood. I was aware of him and his work, but not his story. My scenic designer John Iacovelli brought Gillian Armstrong's documentary Women He's Undressed to my attention and I was so compelled by his story. It is so rich, so layered, so extraordinary! It was really difficult trying to hone in on specific events and people in his life, and fit it all in to a show that is under an hour and a half.
How long has this project taken from the time you first read Orry's memoir to this, your first stage production of ORRY?
I bought the book in February 2017, and called the publisher immediately. By mid-March, I had a deal with the Orry-Kelly Estate through their amazing Australian agent. I've been working with my dramaturg, director and producing partner Wayne Harrison on it ever since.
As one who has studied the insides and outs of Orry-Kelly, what qualities of Orry would he/you enter in his online dating profile? What flaws would he/you deliberately not list?
Well, it completely depends on what stage of his life he is in. If it is pre-1960, when he was a raging alcoholic, perhaps it would say something like "Painter, enjoys a good stiff gin, a long black velvet and going to the fights. Unapologetically honest and prone to obnoxious outbursts, but has a heart of gold. Can dance a mean Polka." He wouldn't keep anything off the list these days. He had no time for 'phonys'.
You are including an exhibit of Orry's handiwork in complement with ORRY. How did you acquire his gowns?
I am so excited to be able to exhibit a few of his gowns at our VIP Gala opening on Saturday November 2. They are owned by a private collector named Greg Schriener. He is an absolute dream, and has been incredibly generous to me. He is the president of the Marilyn Monroe Fan Club and has an amazing collection! Some of my photographs by Tony Duran feature the actual gown and coat that Mitzi Gaynor wore in Les Girls for which Orry won an Academy Award. We also have access to some of Orry's Broadway scenic and costume design sketches with thanks to The Shubert Organization Archive. The Shuberts really launched his design career and their collection is also phenomenal.
You co-founded the Australian Theatre Company here in Los Angeles in 2014. How would you compare and contrast the theatre communities of Los Angeles and that of your Aussie origins?
I had such a wonderful time with Australian Theatre Company and the community that we were able to create in L.A. over the 5 years that it existed. In Australia, historically, all of the best actors were theatre-trained and worked in theatre, as well as, film and TV. Whereas here, there are a lot of actors who have really trained specifically for film and TV, and have done no theatre at all. The industry here is very different. In Oz, we need to be able to do everything in order to be employed. Having said that, I think that the L.A. theatre scene is really exciting! The talent pool is so strong and diverse. There are so many venues presenting great work. It is similar though, in that we don't really have an official theatre district that attracts tourists in the same way that Broadway or the West End does, and I think that really helps develop a theatre-going culture locally.
Your different roles as acting coach and ordained marriage officiant, both hold import for many reasons. What positives of each bring you joy? What challenges of each do you love overcoming?
Oh, man! You really went through my website!!! I tend to coach speakers and hosts more than actors. Often my clients are experts in particular fields, and have very little experience in front of audiences or the camera. I have also worked with TV networks with their new on-air talent in Australia, the UK and China. The wedding thing is really the result of me constantly being asked by friends and family to contribute to their big day in some way, either as an emcee, groomsman, singer or speaker, and then eventually it just made sense to become ordained. I've been involved in countless weddings. I've never managed to make it to my own though... I find joy in pretty much everything, especially the fact that I have been around for this long, and still get to play.
The character of Felicia in PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT - THE MUSICAL has always meant to be the eye candy of the production. You toured as Felicia for two years. What was it like to be the object of gay men's lust as the sexiest of the fabulous three (Felicia, Mitzi and Bernadette)?
I mean...you say 'meant to be the eye candy'... I was told by Twiggy that she thought my legs were the "best in the business," but otherwise, I was too busy working six days a week to really reap any benefits from being the eye candy back then... Besides the men in the ensemble were waaaaaaaay hotter!
Which of your many creative functions (writing, acting, hosting, producing) give you the most satisfaction?
I'm a creative and entrepreneurial and will always produce. I LOVE harnessing the skills and talents of those around me to make something really special happen. But I love to perform! It is in my DNA, I cannot help it. I wish I could leave it behind sometimes and just focus on writing and producing, but I can't. It's just who I am and always will be.
What's next of the full plate of Nick Hardcastle?
Well, let's see how this goes. I want to tour it in the U.S. and the U.K. and, of course, Australia. And I want to bring Orry's story to the screen. I'm also currently the Festival Director for Short+Sweet Hollywood.
What do you foresee for yourself in 2030?
If we still have a planet to call home by then, I hope I'm living fabulously, in love, with a creative empire that has its own super positive legacy and, of course, still in good health with all my bits still attached and working well!
What feels would you like The Lee Strasberg Theatre audiences to leave with after you curtain call?
All the feels, Gil. Aaaaaaall the feels!!
Thank you again, Nick! I look forward to meeting your Orry-Kelly.
For ticket availability and show schedule through November 11, 2019; log onto Gentleman-George.com