Ian von Memerty, ‘the king of versatility’ shares the stage with ‘the queen of dance’, his wife Vivienne, in their show, Synergy, at Theatre on the Bay from 18 to 30 July 2017.
Known as a director, actor, singer, musician, writer and even television presenter, Von Memerty’s career has sent him down various paths. Asked if any of these have most influenced his creative persona, Von Memerty comments, “In our business our careers are constantly evolving - at each stage the joy has been discovering new territory - or revisiting old territory to see if you can do it better.”
Unmistakably a man that makes the best and takes the most inspirational out of every moment and opportunity, his entertainment career found him at an early age… a very early age, in his own words, actually “on the potty - at the age of 18 months trying to sing the ‘Click Song’. But in reality I was a trained classical pianist before I was anything else - and that was the gate-way to everything.”
Stepping into the spotlight as a youngster, responding to the Theatre Fates’ call to the stage, Von Memerty literally grew into his profession, living out his creative, theatrical dream rather than chasing degree credentials. He admits that “to learn your craft on the job is both a challenge and a gift. EG Rosamund Pike, Carey Mulligan were both turned down by various drama schools, but their hunger meant that they brought an original tack which has given them long ‘career’ legs'.”
No one can deny that Von Memerty’s career definitely has a similar originality that allows him to dance to his own musical tune and set the benchmark for others in what has been a very successful and still ever growing career.
Von Memerty believes that music and dance productions resonate with audiences as story-telling mediums. “Music is a fundamental part of our human experience. Every language has its own music. Rhythm is as elemental as the sun. And that is why people go to the theatre to experience that elemental magic live. To share the danger and beauty and vulnerability of performers attempting to connect to something eternal.”
Throughout his career, Von Memerty personally also found music and dance to be his preferred theatre genres through which to express his creative style. “Absolutely – and comedy”, he adds. “The man who wrote My Fair Lady (Alan Jay Lerner) said that musical theatre should feel like you have taken a holiday - and that is what I believe.”
And what a holiday he is living! But who then would be the dance and music ‘holiday’ influencers he looks up to as mentors?
“Yoh - that is a HUGE question. But personally my mentor and teacher was Joan Brickhill. Not only did she give me training, opportunity, wisdom and the insight of experience but she also gave me the most important gift of all - she believed in me when I did not, and kept on believing until I also believed.”
A man who undoubtedly appreciates people and values the inspiration they bring to his career, he also describes his family as "the longest running and most fulfilling production” of his life.
Commenting on the influence and importance of his family on his showbiz life, Von Memerty explains that Synergy draws strongly on that personal side, reflecting on the performance balance required in producing such a dazzling show.
“Viv and I started performing together 27 years ago before we were married!!! So in this latest show we look at why partnerships are so much greater than the sum of their parts. From Penn and Teller to Morecambe and Wise performers create this other entity that is ‘other worldly’ in its strength. And so, we found partnerships that we could bring our brand of glamour, and love, and music and entertainment to - we try to enhance them and we use them to explore new dimensions for ourselves."
Expression is given to that powerful theme throughout the whole production. Von Memerty has given real consideration to the idea that contradictions can result in surprising partnerships that produce spectacular synergy: “In chemical terms - two of the most flammable gasses are oxygen and hydrogen - put them together and you should have the biggest destructive force in the world - instead you get the most powerful thing in the world. Water.”
With that understanding, it is no surprise that Von Memerty describes the show as “Passionate, Energetic, Beautiful”! Within this exquisite theatrical Synergy, one moment does stand out for him as a favourite, “revisiting Tevye from Fiddler on the Rood after 35 years” which he has personal “school production” ties too. So you can be sure that throughout the show the duo brings true expression and connection to the stage.
Ultimately, Von Memerty hopes that Synergy will leave audiences feeling “loved, enriched, uplifted and above all ENTERTAINED.” Catch Ian and Vivienne Von Memerty onstage, dancing up a glamorous storm, in complete harmony at Theatre on the Bay until 30 July 2017. Tickets for Synergy available at Computicket.