18 April 2020

Isolation Interviews: Greg Castiglioni

Coming next in the Isolation Interviews series is brilliant actor Greg Castiglioni. Greg is part of the UK touring cast of The Phantom of the Opera where he's playing Ubaldo Piangi. Greg's previous credits include Titanic the Musical (London, Toronto and International Tour), The Woman in White (Charing Cross Theatre), Evita (London) and A Spoonful of Sherman (London).

Q - What was the first show that you remember seeing? 
A - Babes in the Wood at the London Palladium 

- What inspired you to get into theatre? 
A - I would say nature did; everything actually conspired against it but no matter what practical life decisions I made,  the result always seemed to draw me back towards this. 


- Whose performance/s have had the biggest impact on you? 
A - There have been a few high calibre/famous actors who have been wonderful to see but really I am inspired by performances that are believable and truthful. I realise that to some people the thought of a theatrical performance being believable sounds like a contradiction in terms but I’m not talking about mundane realism; I’m talking about truth within the realms of the world we are presented with. In Harry Potter,  for example, we find ourselves in a fantastical world but we still absolutely believe that the stairs move, candles float in mid-air and people fly around on broomsticks, because it’s real within that world. In theatre, by it’s very nature, the world is heightened compared to every day life but a good actor can still make you believe in his character wholeheartedly: that has an impact on me 

- What is your favourite musical movie? 
A - You’re not going to like this answer because I can’t really give you an answer. I’m not being evasive; I genuinely can’t identify ONE favourite. I have seen many that I have loved watching again and again for various reasons however there were also plenty where in my book “once was enough”.  When I was a child Mary Poppins,  The Sound of Music and Singing in the Rain were my go to watches so they will forever be special; then I went through the West Side Story and Grease phase until Disney brought out Beauty and the Beast (still my favourite Disney animation).  I thought the movie of Chicago was a great version as was Dreamgirls and, for more personal reasons, I really enjoyed the second instalment of Mamma Mia! So you see....one simple answer to this question is impossible for me.

- What are your favourite show tunes?
A - I’ll make it simple and not choose any! Once again, I don’t lack decisiveness but what I do isn’t just my job is part of who I am and therefore being in the presence of a great performance; of a great story; wonderful music; beautiful lyrics etc will forever touch me in one way or another, so much so that it becomes impossible to identify a favourite.

- If you could tell your younger self something what would you tell them? 
A - Looking back on my life so far I really can’t complain; although there have been some awful moments, all in all I have been very lucky. I can honestly say that I have no regrets. My words to my younger self would genuinely be: “We all have ups and downs in life and it’s only through the suffering that you can recognise the happiness.   NO ONE’S life is perfect because there is no such thing. However, even if sometimes it won’t seem it, you will have a good life, with much to be grateful for and with many dreams becoming a reality. All you need to do is do what feels right; you’re heart and instincts will guide you in a good direction”.

- If you could have dinner with 3 theatre-related guests (doesn't have to just be performers). Who would you invite and why? 
A - Glenn Close (I have been a fan of hers for years and her diverse range of characters is a testament to her talent) Anthony Hopkins (never has “just say the lines” been more true than in the honesty with which he says his lines; I would love to pick his brains) Trevor Nunn (I have actually already met him and worked with him briefly but never in a situation where any conversation could be had.  I admire that having done so much straight theatre he doesn’t discriminate against musical theatre and his kind and honest manner would enable me to have a genuine conversation with him with no pretences)

Greg and the company of The Phantom of the Opera in rehearsals.

- You're part of the UK tour cast of Phantom of the Opera playing the role of Piangi. You previously understudied the Phantom and Piangi in the 25th Anniversary Tour. How has the experience of returning to the show and taking on the role full time been? 
A - This show has always had a special place in my heart; it was one of the first I saw. My mum was adamant that I should see it and after queuing for returns around the building, we got in and the impact was huge. I had always hoped to be in it so when I was cast the first time it fulfilled a lifelong ambition. To be in it once again is wonderful. 
- You've played the role of Andrews in Titanic the Musical in the Original London Company, International Tour and in Toronto. How special a show was that to work on? 
A - (I loved it when I saw it) Playing Andrews has been one of the highlights of my career. I had seen the Broadway version and adored the music but also that role in particular so much so that once the show was announced that was the only role I asked to audition for.  It was the first time I’d played a person who has really existed and so I, therefore, felt I had to take more care and apply more respect when making choices about how to portray him. Gradually he emerged from me and has continued to do so every time I’ve played him; in each production, I have grown with him and he with me. 

- Away from the theatre what are your other favourite hobbies? 
A - It may sound like a cliché but I am in the fortunate position of having made a career out of my passion so in comparison nothing else seems as interesting. I enjoy many different activities such as playing tennis, golf, bowling, drawing/painting, watching movies, cooking etc and in particular property, interior design and hosting/homemaking. I am very handy and am therefore forever fixing things around the house, improving things, redecorating and even just organising. 

Q  - Can you tell us something we might not know about you? 
A - If I wasn’t in theatre I would open a hotel (and still hope to one day) which I think is a follow-on from my interest in hosting. I worked in the hotel and holiday industry when I was younger and always thrived in that atmosphere, enjoyed looking after people and got a lot of fulfilment in making them feel relaxed. In a way it’s not too different from being on stage I suppose; you’re still entertaining people and providing them with escapism!!!

I'd like to thank Greg for his Time in taking part in this interview. You can follow Greg on Twitter https://twitter.com/GregCastiglioni 

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