Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Interview: Nick Hardcastle On Bringing the Life of Orry-Kelly To The Thea-ta

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?

Interview: Nick Hardcastle On Bringing the Life of Orry-Kelly To The Thea-ta 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?

Interview: Nick Hardcastle On Bringing the Life of Orry-Kelly To The Thea-ta 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.

Interview: Nick Hardcastle On Bringing the Life of Orry-Kelly To The Thea-ta 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?

Interview: Nick Hardcastle On Bringing the Life of Orry-Kelly To The Thea-ta 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)?

Interview: Nick Hardcastle On Bringing the Life of Orry-Kelly To The Thea-ta 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.

Interview: Nick Hardcastle On Bringing the Life of Orry-Kelly To The Thea-ta 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.

Thank YOU!

For ticket availability and show schedule through November 11, 2019; log onto Gentleman-George.com




From This Author - Gil Kaan

      Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas of film, television, and stage in... (read more about this author)


Interview: Funny Lady Allison Dunbar's Planting The Flag for SISTER GROUNDLING: MY COMEDY, MY CHOICE
August 13, 2022

When funny ladies Allison Dunbar and Emily Pendergrast decided to produce a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood September 16th, they simply picked up their phones and called their Sister Groundlings to participate. The roster for September 16th includes current main company members, as well as Groundlings alumni. Deanna Oliver directs Lauren Burns, Patty Guggenheim, Rachel Harris, Phyllis Katz, Lyric Lewis, Karen Maruyama, Laraine Newman, Cheri Oteri, Jessica Pohly, Ariane Price, Lisa Schurga, Annie Sertich, Cathy Shambley, Mindy Sterling, Christen Sussin and Michaela Watkins. I had the chance to catch the very busy Allison to respond to a few questions between her recent nuptials and the fundraiser.

Interview: Patrick Wetzel & His History With THE PROM
August 5, 2022

The national touring company of The Prom lands at the Ahmanson August 10, 2022 (with a preview August 9th). The story of a group of Broadway divas meshing with a small-town high school results in hijinks and lots of fantastic dancing. Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw reprises his Broadway directing and choreographic duties on this tour. Got a chance to throw some questions out to Patrick Wetzel, who plays one of the Broadway superstars Barry Glickman.

Interview: Kristina Wong & Kirn Kim Making FROM NUMBER TO NAME Work
July 21, 2022

Performance artist/comedian/ writer Kristina Wong (in partnership with API RISE) returns to East West Players with her new rendition of From Number To Name: Back To Life livestreaming August 5th through 7th. As Kristina described in her last interview with me: “From Number To Name is a devised theater piece created with formerly incarcerated Asian Pacific Islander Americans. The cast is formerly incarcerated APIs, folks with family on the inside and their supporters. It's storytelling we rarely see in our community, from the people who have experienced it.” I got Kristina to say a few words before turning this interview over to Kirn Kim, one of the formerly incarcerated featured in From Number To Name.

Interview: KING LIZ's Fernanda Coppel Successfully Balancing Writing for Stage & TV
July 18, 2022

Next up at the Geffen Playhouse, the west coast premiere of playwright Fernanda Coppel’s King Liz opening July 21, 2022 (previews already begun). Jesca Prudencio directs the cast of Ray Abruzzo, Oscar Best, Nancy Linari, Evan Morris Reiser, Michelle Ortiz and Sabrina Sloan. I had the opportunity to throw out a few questions to Fernanda about King Liz, as well as her writing career.

Interview: Jason Alexander Never FORGETs His Tradition, His Friends Or His Fellow Artists
July 18, 2022

Next up at the Fountain Theatre, the L.A. premiere of Tony Award-winner Steven Levenson’s If I Forget beginning July 23, 2022 (with previews starting July 20th). Jason Alexander (also a Tony Award-winner) directs the cast of Síle Bermingham, Caribay Franke, Matt Gottlieb, Samantha Klein, Leo Marks, Valerie Perri, Jerry Weil and Jacob Zelonky. I had the opportune occasion to throw out a few queries to Jason, the well-known TV actor and respected L.A. Theatre community denizen.