Sunday, May 29, 2011

Interview with Harold Sanditen

Former UK producer/singer Harold Sanditen brings his celebrated cabaret act 'Round Midnight to the M Bar on Friday June 17 for one night only. In our talk, he tells of his amazing journey from behind the scenes to spotlight center stage.

How did you come up with the title of your show Thoughts 'Round Midnight?

It was 4 am on a Wednesday morning. I couldn’t sleep.  I’m not an insomniac, but I’m not the soundest of sleepers either. Rather than complain, I try to make effective use of my time during such late hours, and interestingly enough, some of my best and most creative work is done late at night.

Mine too. Tell me about your exiting change in career and how it began.

Several years ago I realized that after 20 years of producing theatre, it had begun to lose its luster. I think that all began when I was producing one particularly difficult diva.  Then some more difficult divas came along, and I decided that life really IS too short to put up with that kind of nonsense.  It was time for a change.  But what? … I always knew that one of the reasons I produced theatre was because I was a frustrated performer. I didn’t have the confidence to get on stage. In fact, I had stage fright, so the next best thing was being next to or behind the stage. It wasn’t really acting I wanted to do, it was singing. I’d always loved to sing. I always had a melody going through my head. I sang in the shower, around the house, to our dog! It’s amazing how you can fit a dog’s name into the lyrics of almost any song…..

That's an amazing leap of faith. Had you always been that courageous?

Looking back, I’d already made one major career change. In the mid 80s I received my MBA and went to work in New York City as an investment banker. That was a fairly short-lived career. From there I moved to London, set up shop as a theatre producer, and I’ve lived here ever since. It was in 2006 when I was producing Celia Imrie (and she’s NOT a diva!!!) in New York, that one of my fellow MBA students told me she had decided to become a cabaret performer and was doing a show. I went to see her. Seed planted.

When did it actually start to happen?

The seed began to germinate in 2007 when I attended my first “cabaret boot camp” in….Tuscany.  Wow! So, one can sing, as well as tell a story?!!!  It’s acting to music. Each song an individual monologue, with some personal relevance. 

Tell me more about the current show.

Last spring, during another late night, I came up with the idea of a new show, exploring those late night thoughts that can keep us up.  It had the potential to be a wrist-slitting experience, but I mapped out all the emotions I thought were important to cover, and then found comedy songs for the most serious thoughts – even suicide!  It’s difficult for me to keep from laughing when I’m performing some of the comedic songs.
Has your experience as a producer helped shape you as a performer?

I have to admit I was perhaps a bit na├»ve when I made the switch, thinking it would be all artistic, but it’s not called show BUSINESS for nothing!  Basically, becoming a singer and cabaret performer has meant that I still have to do all the things I did as a producer, and on top of that, be artistic, keep in shape, etc…..  plus, you have to become a ruthless self-promoter, which is very different than promoting a show. My background as a producer has been a major benefit, so in the end, it’s all fallen into place quite nicely.
 Whether or not anyone realizes this, it really is hard work being a diva or divo, an “artiste”, and that’s without the diva behavior. In the end, it’s the diva you know, whether that diva wears Prada or nada!

THOUGHTS ‘ROUND MIDNIGHT “mini world tour” (Toronto, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Palm Springs!) commences on 14th June 2011.  Los Angeles performance at M Bar, 1253 Vine Street, Los Angeles, 90038.  Doors open at 7.00 pm, shows begin at 8.00 pm and 10.15 pm.  Book online on , or by phone on (323) 856-0036.  Tickets $15

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