The true joy of playing
One very young, and the other slightly older.
We have met two happy fiddlers!
Author: Marius Olav Sørhus Photo: Thomas Aas & L P Lorentz (Oslo Nye) Source: In-magasinet. Published : spring 2007. Translated by TessaLa, revised by Bita.
At the theatre “Oslo Nye” plays the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” for full houses. It has done so for a long time now and will continue up until mid-June. It was about time to have a chat with the stars who held the lead roles.
We sat down in the middle of the stage at the strange, empty auditorium. What does the success feel like, and how is it to stand on this stage everyday in front of a new expecting audience? Dennis Storhøi plays the lead role of Tevye and Alexander Rybak plays the fiddler on the roof.
The dream role
Is this a dream role for you, Dennis?
Yes, definitely. The role as Tevye is the kind of role one dreams of. A proper potato, says Dennis Storhøi, whatever that means.
He further explains that it is a challenging and comprehensive role, one that has been played so many times before by so many different actors. As usual, therefore, the dream role is a little creepy too.
The play has so many elements, he explains. There are lots of different tempos and moods. The songs don’t just pop up suddenly in the middle of nowhere, like “let’s sing a little song now”.
The songs fit perfectly and are a very natural part of the story. I think that’s one of the main reasons as to why the play is as popular as it is, says Storhøi.
And popular it is, the gentlemen assure me. One of the most played and beloved musicals through ages. At the same level as Les Miserables.
The role as “the fiddler on the roof” doesn’t include much acting, but either way, it’s a dream role for Alexander Rybak right now. A definite highlight in a career that, after all bask brands, is heading only in one direction. Up!
“Freshly baked” multi-talent
After Rybak won “Kjempesjansen” on NRK, he has been overloaded with offers. The fact that he now stands on stage in Oslo everyday, interacting with one of the most respected actors in Norway, he can thank a talent he uses when absent from stage.
I think what I do best is carefully choosing what I take part in so that people think that I’m very good at everything, says the former IDOL-participant with a smile.
Yes, I found out that there was a limit to how many contests I could take part in.
Alexander Rybak’s time as a participant in talent shows is undoubtedly over.
He is multitalented, Storhøi shot in.
He’s good with the violin, yes. But singing, oh my god, he amazes us all.
Dennis Storhøi gives almost a blissful gaze; if he is lying now, someone must urgently call the Oscar Academy. Young Rybak seems rather abashed, but it is also apparent that he too is aware of his own talent. He is not embarrassed for being good. And that’s a good thing.
But it was a different oppurtunity to be able to join the “Fiddler on The Roof”, he can reveal. I’m not an actor, and have no experience from theatre.
There were times in the beginning where I sat and grinned a little, yes, Storhøi remembers.
There were so many questions and ideas from that boy, it took some time before he realized that theatre is a process. One thing at a time, the answers will come. In the beginning there were some disappointments, yes, but they were short-lived disappointments, Alexander confirms.
One can see that they understand each other well, they work together daily and share the joys and the burdens of having to give new people an unforgettable evening. Every evening.
Alexander is not afraid to speak, and Dennis is completely comfortable with listening and nodding slightly.
What about plans and ambitions? Alexander Rybak says that acting was previously a big dream, but he is very pleased that he has stuck to mainly singing and playing now.
Nevertheless, I have international ambitions, he says. Among others, the role as Marius in Les Miserables is one dream role.
But it is not the role in Victor Hugo’s classic work that is the ultimate dream.
Now, Rybak struggles to explain himself, dreams are so big and are often difficult to talk about. He almost excuses himself when he doesn’t manage to formulate perfectly, this apparently very mature young man. We’ll manage to figure it out. Alexander wants to sing, play, act, everything.
What I want is to make it so that I can travel around a bit. No, travel a lot! That’s the conclusion.
A quick look to the resume of Dennis Storhøi reveals that we are dealing with a very versatile guy. Theatre, film, television, dubbing, radio, and all aspects in the above categories, he has experienced. And enjoyed them all, he claims himself.
No! He says clearly. Everything is good, I like everything, however…
However, yes, there is a fairly heavy “however” involved in here:
Theatre. I always have to return. I am not able to stay away from it. Moments of magic, “one-takes”, as we call it. I’ll come back to this here, he says, and gives the empty auditorium a quick reassuring glance, as if he wants to confirm that we are home with Dennis now. And we sure are.
So does Dennis Storhøi have a favorite anyway?
This is what I was trained to do.
Downs, which downs?
For those who have followed Dennis Storhøi for some years now, if only through the media, they may have heard of the story of a somewhat unsuccessful overseas stay with, among others, Antonio Banderas, and a quite special attempt by Hollywood to make a Viking movie.
It turned out that it was not only the film that couldn’t live up to it’s full potential, considering the involved creative forces. Dennis Storhøi also had problems of more personal concern. This led to a halt in the work, and a break from the limelight.
When I mention this, the professional Storhøi appears. This, he has no plans to talk about, and therefore can tell that he has never had any downs at all.
The insolent happy man comes up with this:
I only have ups. I learn something from everything. As long as you live, right?
So you see this as an “up” now?
Yes! Dennis Storhøi smiles wide, very wide.
Thank God, not IDOL-Alexander
When Alexander was in IDOL, he played a kind of role. He understood that it was kind of boy band type they wanted from him, so he gave them that.
In “Kjempesjansen” it was easier to be Alexander Rybak. And he knows very well that the victory there is what opened the doors wide open for him now.
It was of course fantastic to win, he said.
And according to Storhøi, critics and others “IN-magasinet” have asked, he takes good care of the chance he has received at the Oslo New Theatre.
To be continued
So while Alexander Rybak has stated his goal of conquering abroad, Dennis Storhøi feels content with where he is. And that means being wherever there are good stories to be told.
I do like international things, I get offers from abroad, he said.
But it is not where and with whom that are the most important factors for Storhøi, that doesn’t matter. Just give him a good story, and he’ll tell it.
If you want to meet them up close, they are currently located at Oslo New Theatre. They really enjoy themselves in front of the different types of audiences each day the week brings. Dennis explains that there is clearly a difference between the Monday audiences, and those big parties from out-of-town who arrive on the weekends. Slightly different intensity level, simply.
For my part, I really like to play around with the different types, says Rybak. I quickly can tell if they’re mostly looking for a big laugh. And then I give them what they want.
As for the relationship between Dennis and himself, he says only;
We have a wonderful relationship! The small variations, I like that. Dennis Storhøi nods approvingly for the nth time during the interview.
One has just begun, and the other is far from finished.