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Alan Montanaro: Four More Than Just A Play

Alan Montanaro 1

I meet with Alan Montanaro; Actor; Director; Celebrity; Philanthropist and Owner of the Malta branch of the hugely successful Helen O’Grady Drama Academy.  He is on his way to rehearsals in Valletta for his latest theatrical creation: FourPlay Four.

What led up to this Fourth Edition of the FourPlay productions? “I tend to create a situation or come across a situation, say yes, accept it and deal with how to make it happen afterwards.  I have to be spontaneous, if I stop to weigh the pros and cons, I may put myself off” he says with a wry smile.  In 2005, Alan Montanaro was urged to book dates at the Manoel Theatre to put up his own Show…  and on a whim, he accepted, thinking he had more than 9 months to come up with the material for the Show.  In August of that year, the Manoel Theatre asked him if he would bring the Show forward to October 2005, less than 2 months away…. Staying true to his character, he said “yes” then panicked… “I had always dreamed of creating a Variety Show, along the lines of the Morecambe & Wise Show (the best loved double act Britain ever produced), incorporating music, British humour and nostalgia, then marrying these elements with Maltese satire.  He realised that he was going to need help and engaged an additional three writers to develop the material, working alongside himself.  As rehearsal time was so limited, he decided to have 4 different Directors each working with four actors simultaneously. “With four Directors working on the project and four weeks to go, we decided to call the production FourPlay”. He continues to tell me a little known story, that at the dress rehearsal for the very first FourPlay, the cast had received a lot of negative feedback, so much so, that following the dress rehearsal, they all went out that evening and had more than a few drinks to drown their sorrows!! “When we got back on stage the next day, the energy was completely different and it was a resounding success.” The production went on to break all records at the Manoel Theatre. Spurred on by that success, Alan came up with More FourPlay in 2008 and Even More FourPlay in 2011.

It is now time for FourPlay Four;  “We have improved on the formula; the material takes us back to the ‘70s and ‘80s and inspires a feeling of folklore and nostalgia; things you recognise from the past with a sense of ‘wow… those were the good old days’ ; you can look back and laugh”.  You can hear the passion in Alan’s voice and have no doubt that his heart and soul goes into everything he does.  He draws material from everything around him, finding humour in everyday life.  “I can laugh at myself, I can laugh at my country and our culture and I like to have fun, make fun and give fun…and FourPlay ticks all the boxes.  My favourite genre of theatre is comedy with a heart, comedy with pathos; you laugh, you cry, then you laugh again; this is what life is all about.”

 

“As a child at school we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up;  typical answers from my fellow students were a doctor, a pilot, an astronaut; I wanted to be an actor. My earliest memories are sitting with my mum watching the classics. My mum knew all the gossip about every actor and actress.  She was a huge fan of Hollywood and show-business; she herself came from a very musical family.  We used to watch the Hollywood legends from the Silver Screen: I was totally mesmerised”

When he was about 20, he found himself watching the MADC production of the Christmas Pantomime and while the audience laughed and enjoyed every moment, he sat staring at the stage, green with envy.  “I wanted to be on stage!” Thus was born “Dame”, who everybody knows and loves, larger than life, and inspiring hundreds of new theatre-goers to the Maltese theatre scene.

“There was a time when I was embarrassed to say that I made my name through Panto, when my friends were doing Shakespeare; today I am very grateful and very proud to have taken Panto to the masses in Malta, where it can be enjoyed by everybody.”

Alan does not believe he deserves the celebrity status he has achieved in his home country; a lot of people would definitely disagree!

Alan Montanaro brings his unique skills back to the Maltese stage with FourPlay Four.
Ticket prices €15, €20 and €25. Bookings from the Teatru Manoel website www.teatrumanoel.com.mt; email bookings@teatrumanoel.com.mt; or telephone (+356) 2124 6389

 


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