Reaching for The Stars: Peter Maple talks with Naomi Price – TALKING ARTS

Rumour Has It is the acclaimed musical extravaganza detailing the rise of songstress and soul superstar, Adele. Co-creator and Adele surrogate, Naomi Price discusses her role – the show – music – fans – and all things in between.

The award-winning biographical song and dance show has toured nationally and internationally to much success, connecting with and collecting audiences of all walks of life along the way. Naomi and her team now bring this ever-growing, sky-rocketing event to Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, for – as they say in the ‘business’ – ONE NIGHT ONLY!

How do you feel about bringing the show to Riverside Theatres, Parramatta?

I couldn’t be more excited! I hosted an event at Riverside last year and I remember looking around and thinking “wow, I would love to perform Rumour Has It here” and now we are!

It’s a stunning venue and I think Parramatta audiences are going to love the show.

You present a very frank account of Adele’s life story. Has it been hard portraying someone else – a real life someone else – a living someone else – another singer for that matter – and their life struggles?

As an actor, I actually prefer to portray other people so I really enjoy bringing Adele and her story to life. The great thing about playing a person who is still alive is that you constantly have new material! When Adele released her most recent album 25, we were so excited cause it meant we could even add some new music to the show.

And her story is so fascinating, I never get tired of telling it.

What has resonated with you in particular about Adele’s life – positive and/or negative?

I think everyone can relate to heartbreak and the deterioration of relationships. Adele writes the best, most heart-wrenching, break-up songs and they are a joy to perform. The emotion in them is so raw and honest. It’s a dream for an actor – you don’t have to do anything special, just sing the words and mean them.

Aside from the emotional connection, Adele and I also both grew up in the UK and even lived in the same town for a short period of time, so there’s a lot of references in the show to England and what it’s like to grow up there. I love getting to reminisce about walking through the streets of London, or celebrating the Spice Girls!

Adele is the quintessential ‘English lass’, and it makes her so very relatable. 

Are there any advantages to living vicariously through Adele?

When I’m playing Adele, I feel like I can say or do anything. So I don’t think anything is off limits! I’m able to use my sharp tongue to hammer out any number of wild retorts, and it’s so refreshing! I think because the character of Adele is so endearing, you can pretty much get away with anything. It’s taught me to not fear the audience, but rather embrace them, and give them the much-needed hug they wanted after a long day at work.

I love being an emotional outlet for other people, whether it’s to make them laugh or cry.

Were you always a fan of Adele yourself beforehand? Are you a bigger one now?

I’m definitely a bigger fan now than when we first wrote the show. I always loved her music, but I wouldn’t say I wrote it because I was an Adele stalker or anything. My co-writer Adam Brunes and I originally thought the show would be more of a piss-take but when we started researching Adele, we fell in love with her. We realised that while she could be incredibly funny, there are also many poignant moments that her music naturally induces. The show has turned out to be a really respectful, generous homage to the biggest pop star in the world today.

You’re not solely a performer in this production – you are one it’s principal Creators. Do you therefore feel a stronger sense of ‘ownership’ over the character and your performance? Is there a greater sense of ‘satisfaction’ in that?

A lot of the show was improvised in the early stages, and there are still elements that change in every performance, so I definitely feel ownership over the work as a creator. I don’t have to stick to a script, I can allow whatever’s happening in the room or in the world to affect and change the performance, and that freedom is so liberating.

Clearly a fan of the real Adele yourself, what have fan reactions been to your version of her and your show? Are there any specific fan reactions that stand out for you?

We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from everyone who’s seen the show, particularly diehard fans. One person described our show as ‘the DVD extras’ that would accompany the real Adele’s stadium concert series. I think that’s the perfect description. Rumour Has It is the insight into her life that you wish you could have. It’s like having a gin and tonic with a friend, and I love the intimacy and detail of the show, and the experience we are able to give to Adele fans.

You’ve toured the show now to so many different places and venues, nationally and internationally. How does this affect you, and the outcome, of each of these shows?

I love taking this show to different places and venues, and seeing that audiences respond to it so beautifully no matter where they are from, what language they speak, or regardless of whether they know Adele’s music or not. We took the show to Kuala Lumpur last year, and it was such a joy to see that some things, like love, loss and outrageous comedy, are just universal.

We re-write sections of the show for each individual location and are always trialling new material and comedy. That keeps it fresh for me every night, but also gives my amazing musicians something new to laugh at every time!

What do you ultimately hope people will walk away with after having seen the show?

I hope people walk away having had the best night they’ve ever had at the theatre. I hope they feel impassioned and uplifted and invigorated by the experience.

Has Adele seen the show herself? Did she have input into it’s development?

No Adele hasn’t seen the show – I would love her to!

Who will play you when your life and artistic journey is framed and portrayed for the rest of the world to see?

Meryl Streep, of course. Meryl can do anything.

Finally – do you have a ‘favourite’ on-stage moment or song, something you always simply can’t wait to play or perform?

I love every single song and never get tired of singing them. However, I do love when I get to chat to the audience about their first loves before I sing one of Adele’s lesser known songs Daydreamer. Some of the things people share with me are truly remarkable, and have been some of the most memorable moments of the show ever. I just love other people’s ability to love and be loved.

Thank you, Naomi.

Daydreamers – aren’t we all?
We all dream. We all have our dreams.
Some of us dream bigger than others. Some of us shoot for the moon.
And some of us land among the stars…

Peter Maple – Theatre Now and Talking Arts
Original publish date, February 4, 2017.