This week on drama* on the waterfront, we talk to the “irresistible” Jan Prestonabout her upcoming show Adventures in Pianoland. Jan joins us at Circa for one weekend only! Tickets are selling fast – book now to avoid missing this musical tour de force.
Q: This new show is an autobiography. What prompted you to write it at this stage of your life?
I’ve been including elements of my autobiography in various performances over the past few years, and it seemed the right time to write and present this show. I talked to Gaylene [Preston; Jan’s sister and Director of Adventures in Pianoland] about the idea and she was extremely enthusiastic, although it took a while to find the gap in both our schedules. I’m extremely excited to finally be premiering the show in Wellington.
Q: You trained as a classical pianist but now you are known as a boogie player. How did that transition happen?
It has been a very circuitous route, from studying classical, to playing in Jack Body’s Sonic Circus, to writing theatre music for Red Mole and onto rock songs with Coup D’Etat, before eventually finding my style as a boogie piano player and songwriter. All this is revealed in Adventures in Pianoland!
Q: This is the first time your sister Gaylene has directed you although I believe you have composed music for her movies. Has this brought new dynamics to your relationship as sisters?
We have always been very close, but we tend to keep our personal life separate from our working one. We definitely have a special dynamic when we work together, and I think Gaylene has been directing me, one way or another, since I could walk and talk.
Q: Although you frequently come to NZ you are based in Australia. What took you there in the first place?
I originally went to Sydney to get a record contract in 1980, as that was the city many NZ rock musicians (eg Sharon O’Neill, Jenny Morris) were relocating to at that time.
Q: You are remembered for your band Coup D’Etat and work with Red Mole. They must have been exciting times?
They were wild times, it was the 1970s and early ’80s when the entertainment world was not as regulated as it is now, so collaborations were freer and more chaotic. I include stories and slides about Red Mole and Coup D’Etat in the show.
Q: This is the premiere season of Adventures in Pianoland and certainly a departure for you with the combination of music and dialogue. Have you enjoyed the challenge it has presented to you?
In my concerts I always like to chat to the audience quite a bit anyway, so it feels quite natural to me to include dialogue.
Q: Finally – if you were marooned on a desert Island and could take only 3 pieces of music with you, what would you choose?
The most important thing would be to have a piano on the island, so long as I could play I’d be OK, I care more about that than the actual music I would be playing. If pushed, however, I would take my favourite boogie woogie, The Honky Tonk Train Blues by Meade Lux Lewis, plus some Chopin and maybe a piece of Winifred Atwell Ragtime.
Adventures is Pianoland is on for three days only! Thursday 15 – Sat 17 October.
Book now: www.circa.co.nz or 04 801 7992