Meet Albert the (magic) pudding

11 Dec 2017

Name calling and eating slugs? It’s all in a day’s work for Jeremy Kleeman who plays Albert the Pudding. We chatted to him about all things pudding-related in the lead up to The Magic Pudding - The Opera.

Jeremy Kleeman and Albert the Pudding in The Magic Pudding - The Opera. Photo: Charlie Kinross

Describe Albert the Pudding in three words.
Cynical, bad-mannered, and mischievous.

What are your favourite things about playing Albert?
Playing Albert was probably the first time in my life that I was encouraged to behave like a naughty child — and I can’t wait to do it again. Norman Lindsay came up with an impressive armoury of adjectives for the Pudding’s name-calling endeavours, and I’m looking forward to letting a few of them rip on stage.

What is going to be the hardest thing about playing Albert?
During the opera, Albert is sat on, gets stuffed into a log, and is hidden under a hat. I don't want to say exactly how we stage these events, but one thing’s for sure — it’s a challenge for me.

What can we expect from the performance?
The performances are high energy and lots of fun. Calvin Bowman’s music is a real highlight. It perfectly captures the Australian spirit at the heart of the story, it’s very catchy, and it draws inspiration from some famous operatic styles that audiences are sure to relate to.

What’s the best thing about performing in shows for children? 
If you give a convincing performance, it is incredibly rewarding to sense the children getting totally wrapped up in the fantasy of the story. When we were performing Puss in Boots a little girl in the audience screamed very loudly when the Ogre turned into a Lion. I’ll never forget hearing the little boy sitting next to her saying: 'Don’t be scared, they’re only pretending'.

When did you know you wanted to be an opera singer?
I’ve always loved making music and I’ve always loved performing, but I didn’t know that I wanted to be an opera singer until the final year of high school when my voice began to show some operatic potential and I realised that it might be possible.

In the story, Albert loves to be eaten – can you tell us what Albert himself likes to eat?
At one point in the book, Albert complains about his life as a pudding and wishes he was a bird. If we go with that, perhaps worms and bird seed? Otherwise, backstage, Albert likes to eat lollies to keep up his energy levels…

The Magic Pudding - The Opera was performed as part of Victorian Opera's Season 2018 and 2013.