On the Couch with Dean Drieberg

Dean Drieberg AAR On the CouchWho is Dean Drieberg?
I am a freelance Creative Producer and Director. I started my career as a performer and then moved into production, as work for performers is so inconsistent and I’ve found creating and producing to be more fulfilling. I directed my first musical last year, which was the Australian Premiere of Memphis The Musical with StageArt and I’m currently directing bare The Musical (also for StageArt) at Chapel Off Chapel.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would have more time off! Something I don’t get a lot of as a freelancer. I try not to think about how I would do anything differently unless I feel that something in my life isn’t working but I’m very happy with my life at the moment!

Who inspires you and why?
I look up to Jeffrey Seller, the producer of the original productions of Rent, In The Heights and Hamilton. They started as risky, boundary-pushing, ethnically diverse, groundbreaking shows that he was constantly told were terrible ideas and all ended up as mega hits! All three won Tony Awards for Best Musical and two are Pulitzer Prize winners. He is also the man who came up with the ticket lottery system (so widely adopted now) that allows those who can’t afford to attend theatre to get tickets for $10-$25. Locally, I am big fan of Michael Cassel and what he has achieved at such a young age. As a Director, I am obsessed with Hal Prince who is a genius and still working at the age of 90! Closer to home, my parents are great inspirations, they built a great life for themselves, my work ethic and ambition comes from them.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
We are getting deep 4 questions in! I am a huge advocate for equality, across the board – race, gender, sexuality, animals, and the environment. Everyone (and everything) deserves equal rights and treatment. Although we are progressing, we are only taking slow steps forward. I will march in the rallies, I will put my name down in petitions, I will make donations, I will continue to have conversations and I will do what I can to contribute. I’ve also been fortunate to directed two shows that have had strong social issue messages and I will continue to find pieces that allow me to speak through my work.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Tokyo is one of my favourite cities in the world. It can’t be beaten for food, shopping, sightseeing, entertainment and culture. If only you didn’t need a masters in civil engineering to work out how to flush the toilets, it would be perfect! My second home is New York; I’ve been there more times than I should have so I feel so comfortable there. I always stay in Williamsburg because it feels very homely and there’s a strong sense of community so you can escape the craziness of Manhattan but still have the best view of it. Plus, you don’t have to look too hard to find the best coffee, food and dive bars!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I think one of the most interesting parts of Melbourne is the CBD. There is an abundance of everything – food, bars, shops, theatres, and sightseeing. You can discover new things each time you go there. When I first moved to Melbourne I would head into the city and walk down every alleyway and street to discover all of the hidden treasures. Melbourne is unique like that. The must do’s include coffee in Degraves Street, drinks at The Toff or Rooftop, shopping and then a night at one of the beautiful heritage theatres, or even better, heading south to Chapel Off Chapel! I live on the South side and there is so much here, so I always give friends a tour of my favourite local places too.

What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished reading Hal Prince’s biography A Sense Of Occasion. It was absolutely fascinating to get an insight into the creation of so many iconic shows and gives you an appreciation of how much this man has contributed to Music Theatre from being a producer to a director. It took me a while to finish it because I was reading another book… the bare The Musical libretto! I only ever read biographies and non-fiction because I find them more interesting, educational and inspiring. Next on my list is Gerald Schoenfeld’s memoir, Mr Broadway. He ran the legendary Shubert Organization, to whom the industry owes so much as they were responsible for saving Broadway from extinction.

What are you currently listening to?
For fun, I’ve had Miguel’s latest album War & Leisure on repeat since it was released last year. I listen to it at least once a week. There are some brilliant tracks on this album and an amazing sound that merges blues, R&B and psychedelic funk. He is vocally ridiculous and carries so much emotion! For work, I’ve been geeking out with our Music Director Caleb Garfinkel putting together a playlist of tracks from 2002 to inspire the sound, style and attitude of bare The Musical. With artists like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Destiny’s Child, Evanescence and Linkin Park. We’ve been doing a fun video series with the cast doing cover versions of these songs – check it out on StageArt’s Youtube channel, Facebook and Instagram.

Happiness is?
I am happiest when I am working on something I am passionate about. I am a workaholic so I like to keep busy. I’ve been fortunate to earn a living for over 10 years doing what I love. My happiness also comes from my partner, friends, family, puppies and good music.

What does the future hold for you?
I hope the near future holds another great show for me to Direct; having done two shows so close together it’s going to be hard to not be working on another show immediately after bare closes. I am taking some time off and going to Europe and I also hope the future holds more travel. I’m also looking forward to seeing my friends and family again, which has been a challenge with rehearsals. And finally, the future will hopefully hold the answers to question 9!

Dean is directing the Victorian professional premiere of bare The Musical at Chapel off Chapel: 21 March – 15 April 2018. For more information, visit: www.stageart.com.au or www.chapeloffchapel.com.au for details.

Image: Dean Drieberg – photo by Jason Schembri