Simone Leonardi Bares All
Simone studied acting with director John Roman Nardoni before embarking on an apprenticeship in the UK, at the Charioteer Theatre, where he perfected his knowledge of the Shakespearean repertoire. He has studied singing with prestigious teachers Jana Mrazova and Anna Maria Di Marco, and tap-dance and musical repertoire with Ann Amendolagine. He recently directed and starred in the touring musical, The Road to Paradise?
What first attracted you to a life in the performing arts? How did you get your start?
I was sixteen when I started performing. It began as a pastime. One day a girl at school said, “Would you like to join the theatre workshop? I think you are good enough.” Yes, I must say I was—for a school level.
The problems started when I decided to become a professional. All the “official academies” of dramatic art I tried to attend refused me. They told me I wasn’t good enough. I decided to continue on my own and started training in song and dance privately with good (and expensive) teachers. Meanwhile I was working in several off-productions in Rome to survive and pay for the lessons.
In 2003 a first opportunity came: Promnibus On Stage hired me to be first cast in The Full Monty national tour. And yes, I was one of the six to get undressed! From there my career started. But I kept on studying, especially acting. It’s a never-ending story…
Of your many achievements, is there one, or several, of which you feel particularly proud?
There are two productions I’m very proud I was involved in: Stage Entertainment’s first show in Italy, Beauty and the Beast, where I was cast as Cogsworth, the clock, and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, with the role of Bernadette, for which I won the Italian “Tony” (or Massimini Prize).
If you could play any role, what would it be? And why?
In musical theatre, I wish I could be Bert from Mary Poppins in the near future, and Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady in the next near future. As regards drama, the evil Macbeth would be my first choice. But to speak openly, my aim now is to become a director. I feel that I can’t express myself adequately with a single role. What I need instead is a single show!
You were kind enough to sing the part of composer Pasquale Frustaci, aka the “Italian Cole Porter,” in the demo recordings of You, Fascinating You. What was it about this musical that first piqued your interest?
It was my pleasure. Well, this musical is part of Italian history. American people know how to exploit it better than we do. Plus, I have to say I was impressed by the score. My instinct suggested to me that this would be a good project to become part of. And I did!
How would you describe the current state of Musical Theatre in Italy? Are you hopeful about its future?
Honestly… I’m thinking about emigrating. I have had beautiful
moments in my country. In the past, I could feel I was going somewhere. At the moment, however, we are living in a “dark era,” a sort of modern Middle Age. Nothing happens. Economic crisis, unemployment, corruption… Nobody is investing in theatre anymore, and the few who do are dishonest. You get second-class shows. Performing arts schools are old-fashioned. And although some companies do try to give the audience the highest level, they are isolated and not sufficiently supported, so it doesn’t seem to me that musical theatre—any theatre, actually—is going to have a bright future.
What dreams remain to be realized? What is next for Simone Leonardi?
It is time to reclaim my dreams. I did everything I could do here. I gave everything I could give. And I know I have to search for new inspiration somewhere else. So, what’s next for me? A travel agency, I assume!
To learn more…