BREATHING DEEPLY - Steve Balsamo
An Exclusive Interview
Your performance as Jesus in the 1996
I was in a show with another actor, and he was sick of everyone moaning about an agent, so he said: when we finish this show, I’ll become an agent. Truly enough, he became an agent and I went back to write songs and so on. A couple of years later he called me and asked what I was doing and I said I was still trying to write music and get a deal. He asked me if I wanted to audition for the part of Jesus in Superstar, and I said yeah, I’d love to. He came and listened to me singing the song.
He thought it was amazing so he called the guy who was casting it. So I went to the audition and that famous casting director saw me and cried, and after 14 auditions over the next year, I got the part. It was crazy, because I had no acting experience and they wanted to know if I could take direction. They eventually needed to match me up with Judas, to see if we were great together. The guy was called Zubin Varla, and he is a brilliant actor and we were great together voicewise. It was a very long process… and a couple of months after opening night I got a recording contract. It was all I wanted to do, and they even asked me to stay. The show had some great reviews, I had some great reviews, too. I loved that period of my life. It was an incredible learning experience, working with so many great actors and so many great musicians.
How did you prepare for the part actingwise?
I don’t come from an acting background, but I’m very good at watching people and learning very quickly. In any given situation I can clearly see what needs to be done or doesn’t need to be done. The director, Gale Edwards said: the less you do, the greater the smallest gesture may become. And I took that literally and metaphorically, and I was kind of ’reducing’ the performance to the essentials over the year .
Zubin Varla, who played Judas, was so generous with his ideas and tips, it was a fantastic experience working with him and it was easy to react to and with him.
Besides, I read lots of books and watched lots of films and talked to people who played Jesus before and I listened to every Jesus there was at the time. It was a kind of a mixture of watching and learning very very quickly and ’stealing’ from everybody.
How demanding was it to play the part eight times a week?
It was extremely demanding, but rather physically than vocally. For I took care of my voice, I did not drink or smoke or party like many of my collagues. It was essential to keep my voice in shape, for it was my debut in a leading role in the
However, this period was and is a greatly memorable, vital part of my life.
Getshemane is a song you performed on many stages of the world, always with huge success. Has the way you perform it changed over the years?
It has changed very much, for I was 24 or 25 when I first performed it, and now I am 37. Since then, I’ve experienced death and the loss of my mother; I got to know a lot more about myself… or, in a way, less…. If I look back on my birthday, it is always interesting to realize, how much the song has changed again. It is growing and developing, and my voice is also changing as well. It’s very strange, it has changed a lot, and yet, it hasn’t changed at all. I think it’s fantastic that destiny made me to play that all. It was my path and journey to play it.
I perform the song next time at a charity concert in
Would you ever decide to play the part again?
Yes, I would, though I’d prefer to play Judas, because I think I’ve done everything I can with Jesus. I’ve changed physically and vocally as well, and the part of Judas would be a new and exciting task for me.
What other musicals would you like to take part in?
I took part in a musical entitled Poe; we recorded a studio album, and the premiere would have taken place in
However, I prefer creating the role entirely by myself, for it is such an exciting task. Not that I don’t like Jean Valjean, for instance, one of my favourites as well as the Phantom, who I’ d love to play.
Your band, The Storys is increasingly popular all over the world. Would you tell me the brief story of The Storys?
At the time when we formed the band, I had been through a very tough period: my mum had died, which is an incredible loss in my life. I was in desparate need of something new: I was even thinking of living the life of a Bohemian, drinking wine, painting etc, Nevertheless, music is so deeply in my soul that I could not live without it. I had an idea of forming a West Coast harmony band. At that time – around 2003 – Rob Thompson, who was in my solo band project, and I got together and started writing very quickly. Things moved fast, we formed a band and made a record. We had some great reviews, so we started to play everywhere and anywhere clubs, in pubs, etc.
Later on, when we signed to Warner Bros., I got to know that Elton John is a huge fan of our music and he even called me to tell this and to offer us the opportunity to play as a support during his European tour, which was an unbelievable experience.
Fortunately, success came along with more albums, and we also had the chance to support stars like Celine Dion or Joe Cocker.
Can you share with us some of your personal interests? What are your hobbies?
I want to keep fit, so I do running. I am also interested in arts, in painting and I like esoteric reading very much. I am trying to educate mysef about quantum physics and how quantum physics and the spiritual cross over. The old thoughts of spiritual connection, mind-reading and the psyche… all of these are exciting topics for me.
Besides, I am planning to go back to school to finish my degree in painting that I started several years ago.
How would you describe your philosophy of life?
That’s a deep question, even if I think about this all the time. The thing I am sure of that my soul and beliefs all root in music that makes us who we are. It may sound cliché, but I try to be in the moment, live the moment and just breath deeply.
What are your plans for the future?
The members of The Storys would like to do solo albums, so I will record one as well. Besides, I try to enjoy as much time as possible with my family. It’s such a joy watching my daughter growing up. I try to remain focused spiritually, enjoy the moment and live as full a life as possible.
What is your biggest dream?
This is not an easy question either, but I think my biggest dream is that The Storys becomed very succesful, selling millions of records worldwide.
You seem to be a person who is satesfied with his life. Am I right?
I try to be… But, you know that’s a strange thing… what is success? Is it 1 million pounds in the bank or an overall feeling of happiness? By the way, I don’t have 1 million pounds in the bank (yet! :) ), so I can’t tell you how it feels like, but success is built from many different angles… I’m satesfied with the things I've achieved, the respect I get as a singer and a writer, but I am always trying to reach even higher… And I won’t forget to breath deeply...