JACK Chambers has a life that reads like a perfect Hollywood story, much like the one he is starring in at the moment.
A 10-year-old Chambers performed in his first musical, an amateur production of Singin’ in the Rain at Queensland Conservatorium, as the young Cosmo Brown.
The role saw him on stage for just 10 minutes of the show and the rest of the time he spent sitting in the wings while watching the adult cast and dreaming of a music theatre career.
Flash forward 18 years and the 2008 winner of Australia’s So You Think You Can Dance television show is leaving audience members gasping for air as the hilarious adult Cosmo Brown in the Australian tour of Singin’ in the Rain.
“That first production really is the reason I chose to go down the music theatre path,” Chambers said.
“I really remember the experience fondly so it’s nice to come full circle.
“I get to have way too much fun with this role; it’s a blast and physically demanding falling down all the time, but it’s all part of it.
“I really appreciate now how well written this musical is in terms of script and how they tell the story of transitioning from silent films to talkies.
“I think our generation today, who might have never heard of Singin’ in the Rain, can absolutely come to this show and find it hysterical and clever.”
Chambers said he experienced some trepidation while preparing for Cosmo, which is understandable given it is his first comical role.
He had doubts during the rehearsal process that he was being funny but they dissolved as soon as he performed for an audience.
“You don’t have an audience in rehearsals so you don’t know if what you’re doing is funny; I was constantly changing physicalities and the way I did things,” he said.
“I was trying to trust my own instincts but I didn’t know if I could trust those instincts because it was new ground for me.
“It wasn’t until I got my first audience that I breathed a sigh of relief when they starting laughing.”
Chambers said he was drawn to the character because Cosmo didn’t take life too seriously, which was something he wanted to adopt in his personal life.
“He’s just that best friend who always wants to smile and keep you humble,” he said.
“Cosmo isn’t a part of the Hollywood world so he can poke fun at everyone.
“He’s a really enjoyable clown who is very intelligent and gets everything before anyone else does, so I think that’s why his humour works because he’s a bit of a smart arse.”
Chambers, who grew up in Brisbane and is the creative director of the family run RAW Dance Company, said he looked forward to returning to Perth (he toured here in Jason Gilkison’s Burn the Floor) when Singin’ in the Rain opens at Crown Theatre Perth on December 31.
The majority of his family still call Brisbane home but his sister Jess is currently living in Cottesloe.
“So I’m telling her to stay there so I can be by the beach,” he said.
Trying to copy his older sisters Jess and Lucy’s dance steps was the reason his mum put him in dance classes at age three.
Chambers was 19 when he competed on So You Think You Can Dance, which was his first real challenge as a performer.
“It was my first time really being put in stressful situations and out of my comfort zone,” he said.
“I walked away from that experience with a little more of an understanding of who I was as a performer and obviously professionally it opened a lot of doors for me and connected me with a lot of industry people both in Australia and overseas.
“It looks good on a resume to people, but then I find there’s always that pressure of having to deliver when that is on your resume.”
Chambers moved to New York in 2009 where working visa regulations hampered his Broadway ambitions but he still worked with Broadway choreographers and did a gig with Liza Minnelli in Washington DC.
“I got to be a part of the industry, just not in an eight-show-a-week scenario,” he said.
“I absolutely loved it, came back for Hairspray and have been going everywhere else in the world with work, which has been great.
“I’ve been going through the process of applying for a Green Card with a lawyer for the past few years; it’s been a long road and a lot of work but I’m confident I will get it.”
Until then, Australian audiences will have the pleasure of seeing Chambers ham it up in musical numbers such as Make ‘Em Laugh, Moses Supposes and Good Morning.
“Everyone will have a different opinion about Singin’ in the Rain but I just find it so charming, lighthearted and it doesn’t take itself too seriously,” he said.
“It has beautiful music that’s iconic and there’s so many songs that even people who haven’t seen Singin’ in the Rain will still know.
“It’s just really well-written that I think it will always appeal.”
What: Singin’ in the Rain
Where: Crown Theatre Perth
When: from December 31