By Luke Voogt
Playing a baboonish count in an onstage love affair with prolific Australian actress Nadine Garner “takes a lot of imagination”, says opera singer Eddie Muliaumaseali’I.
“He’s such an alpha male,” the Kiwi expat said.
“I don’t run around like around him.”
The bass plays the lover of the self-absorbed, once-successful actress Desiree in A Little Night Music.
But while Muliaumaseali’I’s personality differed from the military-minded Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm, his physique was perfect for the role.
“I look like a front row forward for rugby,” he said.
Indeed, Muliaumaseali’I once played state rugby. But he chose the musical path instead.
“My brother, who’s always been singer, asked me to audition for an opera and we both got in,” he said.
“We were amongst the first Polynesians to be in theatre. There wasn’t many when I started out but there’s so many in NZ now.”
Muliaumaseali’I, whose parents were Polynesian and grandparents were Tongan, migrated to Brisbane to study opera.
He has since travelled 300,000km across the country, singing everywhere from the Kimberley to Hobart, he said.
He admitted he was nervous about jumping into “the world of musical theatre” despite decades singing.
“But now I’m loving it,” he said. “Musically it’s very heavily textured.“
Garner’s “wealth of experience” made the transition easier, he said.
“Nadine is a dream to work with. Everyone knew who she was, coming in, but she was very down to earth and open to helping us.”
A Little Night Music plays Geelong Performing Arts Centre from 22 to 24 February.