Monday, December 9, 2013

John Giraud - Connecting Through Music

John Giraud’s many talents are on display practically year-round at Slidell Little Theatre where he’s usually serving as the music director for shows like Seussical, Evita, The Producers, and Ragtime

A teacher of Talented Music for the St. Tammany Parish School Board, John has composed music for two original shows – Little Musical (with Scott Sauber) and Widow Bride – both making their world debut on our stage.

John Giraud in SLT’s production of
“Man of La Mancha.”
 Photo courtesy Paul Wood Photography

He just finished leading the orchestra in Slidell High’s production of Singin’ in the Rain and he also sings Opera on Tap with New Orleans Opera.  Back in 2009 he wowed audiences as Don Quixote in SLT’s production of Man of la Mancha.

Last summer John sang in a production of A Little Night Music for Summer Lyric at Tulane, his alma mater.

We caught up with John during his busy rehearsal schedule as director of our production of The Gifts of the Magi to find out a bit more about him.

Q: What was your earliest involvement in theatre?

GIRAUD: My first time on stage was at Le Petit in the French Quarter. I sang the role of Tony in a production of West Side Story.

Q: What attracted you to theatre to begin with?

GIRAUD: When I was a boy, my parents took us to see Peter Pan starring Sandy Duncan at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans. My dad managed to get tickets on the front row, but they were all the way against the side wall. Nevertheless, it was incredible because I was able to gaze in wonderment into the orchestra pit and see the amazing musicians as they were warming up and tuning their instruments. Then during the show, I watched in awe as Peter Pan flew out over the audience. It was magical.
Q: What is it about theatre that holds your interest today?

GIRAUD: It is alive. It is a point of connection. As we become more isolated through technology, it is important to gather together with a crowd of people you don’t necessarily know and share a journey through theatrical storytelling.

Q: What are five plays that you’ll never forget and why?

1) Little Musical and Widow Bride at Slidell Little Theatre, because I wrote the music. 

3) The King and I at the Saenger in New Orleans starring Yul Brenner, because he was defiantly fighting cancer and commanding the stage at the same time.

4) Sunset Boulevard on Broadway, because it was the first show I saw in New York

5) Les Miserables in London’s West End, because it changed me.

Q: What play do you think people should see, but probably haven’t?

GIRAUD: Unto These Hills at the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina. It is performed in an outdoor amphitheater at sunset as the smoke starts to drift through the mountains which serve as the backdrop.

Q: What was the oddest play you ever saw, directed or starred in?

GIRAUD: Not odd but probably the most unorthodox: I played music for an almost-all female cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Q: What was the best advice you ever received about acting?

GIRAUD: Be true to the character, even if your voice feels less than 100% or you miss a line. The audience won’t mind as much if they see it happening to the character and not the actor.

Interview conducted by Don Redman

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