Alans Montanaro and Paris have graced the Maltese stage for many years with a number of memorable roles between them. They will be back on stage together – with Stephen Oliver and Joseph Zammit rounding up a formidable foursome – in Exit Stage Right’s production of hit comedy Certified Male. The play, written by award-winning Australian writers and performers Scott Rankin and Glynn Nicholas, is produced by Maltese acting, producing, and directing theatre veteran Nanette Brimmer. Alan and Alan took some time out to speak to indulge.com.mt
For the three people out there who have no idea who you are, would you briefly introduce yourselves?
AM: Hi, I am Alan Montanaro. I’ve wanted to be an actor ever since I can remember, but really got into it when I played Tall Man No.3 in Crowd in some obscure Shakespeare. In my spare time (ha!) I run the wonderful Helen O’Grady Drama Academy in Malta and recently clinched the Franchisee of the Year award for 2019/20.
AP: I’m Alan Paris, husband to an orange (my wife Faye is ginger…) and father of two. I work in marketing because it was the only profession that involved some sort of creativity and a decent paycheque at the end of the month! I’m also an actor and have been since I played a swaying flower blowing in the wind in a school play. I had white petals around my head and all… and a green tracksuit. Great start!
What prompted you to get on stage?
AM: I was always drawn to the stage and would regularly go to the theatre to be mesmerised. But when I saw friends and peers up there on the stage, I decided to really do something about it. I joined MTADA and graduated with honours. And then I participated in absolutely everything I could be in.
AP: Being the youngest of five, and the family mistake (I came after six years), I always wanted to make sure that my family noticed me and remembered that I was there. So acting out was something that I did from a very young age. Acting always fascinated me, so I just dived in headfirst and have been trying to keep afloat ever since.
What was your most memorable and/or infamous theatre moment?
AM: There are too many to mention. However, the most important and impactful one would be the reception to my very first pantomime dame – Żeża… I tried something different from the traditional dame and the audience lapped it up. I haven’t been allowed to change the Żeża persona since.
AP: As the tall Alan said … there’s way too many to mention. Favourite theatre moment – probably playing Charlotte von Mahlsdorf in I Am My Own Wife, also produced by Exit Stage Right. That was a really special story which I was very privileged and honoured to tell.
One of the funniest theatre moments… during Fat Men in Skirts when the wonderful Pia Zammit fell off the stage during practically every blackout! It got to a point that every time we went to blackout, the audience would start giggling, waiting for the bang!
What are you working on right now?
AM: Whenever I am asked what genre of theatre I enjoy most, I quickly say comedy with soul. Certified Male ticks all the boxes for me: it’s hilarious but also very touching as audiences get to know (and love) four very different men on their life journey, with all its ups and downs as well as its eureka! moments.
AP: I’m working on Certified Male with the other Alan. It’s been a blast so far, and I get to learn a new skill… mime! Now, we will be speaking in the show, but all props and most of the sets are mimed. For example, we’re on a fishing trip in one scene, and we have to mime the boat, the fishing rods, even the fish! It’s been quite manic, but a general laugh all round with these guys.
How many times have you two Alans worked together? And what do you like most about working with the other one?
AM: I don’t know, I don’t do numbers. Probably about eight to 10 times but, hand on heart, I have never enjoyed working with Alan as much as I am in this show. I love watching him work through his character and bring something new to every rehearsal. It’s going to be hard for me to keep a straight face on stage.
AP: No idea either, we’ve been many different things together on stage at points in time. Mostly due to the sketch show FourPlay… when we were even in our ‘birthday suits’ on stage, playing musical instruments and cooking food! Working with Alan? It’s always a laugh, and every time we work on a show together, we fall into a very comfortable space where we just sync. There’s a chemistry there that just happens. And that’s not easy to find.
What has been the most fun about rehearsals for Certified Male so far?
AM: Learning a totally new craft is fun – and both Alan and I will be doing things that audiences have never seen us do before.
AP: I’m with Alan on this… learning to mime things that aren’t there. And also working with Glynn who wrote the show. He’s co-directing this one with Nanette. But he’s travelled with it, directing and performing in it. He played my character. So no pressure on me really!
What do you hope audiences will take from Certified Male?
AM: I hope they will take a little bit of soul from the show. It’s three middle-aged men and a younger bachelor doing their best to keep sane and afloat in a very unforgiving world. I believe audiences will recognise themselves or their loved ones in the characters we play.
AP: Even though I hate generalisations, I hope they get an insight into the male psyche. How fragile it can be once the façade comes down. I hope that they’ll empathise. I also think that there are certain comedy visuals of Alan & me that will stay with them for a while!
And finally, what is your favourite indulgence?
AM: Travel. As far and as often as possible … and 2020 is looking good.
AP: Time with my family. Staying home with my wife and kids, cooking (probably a curry!), with the fire blazing, a glass of red wine and laughter. Once this show is done, that’s all I’ll be doing for a while.
Certified Male is being performed at the Teatru Salesjan, Sliema from 4 to 13 October 2019. This project is supported by the Arts Council Malta and the Malta Arts Fund. Booking is open at www.ticketline.com.mt.
For more information about the production, see here