Standing centre stage, waiting for the sound of applause to subside. Perhaps someone coughs. Take a deep breath in and prepare to display what you have been rehearsing for months prior. For many, this sounds terrifying but not for musical theatre actor, singer and make-up artist Hayden Tee.
With an extensive resume and having performed on Broadway, London’s Westend and in Australia, Tee is back home in New Zealand and currently reprising the role of Javert in Les Misérables now showing that the Civic Theatre which coincides with the release of Tee’s own album Hayden Tee: Face to Face.
Tee grew up in Maungaturoto, “population 800” says Tee “Lots of dairy farms and with a very strong theatre community at Otamatea Repertory theatre. I lived with my grandparents from 11-16 and they introduced me to theatre in order to improve my confidence.
And Tee’s confidence did grow, having performed extensively internationally including Europe which is where he recorded part of the album. “We recorded the orchestra in Budapest with the Budapest Scoring Orchestra and the vocals in a number of studios in Sydney, Melbourne and London, basically wherever myself or my musical director Nigel (Ubrihien) happened to be working at the time we would record.”
Taking 3 years to record, Tee was in no rush and wanted to wait until the album was perfect. “Our first step was song choice and then Nigel arranged every song for the 63 instruments.” With musical director Ubrihein particular about the sounds, the duo included harps and harpsichords within the recordings.
“The album was mixed and mastered in London, the album artwork was taken one morning before a performance of Matilda in the West End In and around the Cambridge Theatre.”
The entire album from start to finish was a labour of love for Tee, including the cover artwork of which Tee did the make-up himself. “I wanted to feature my skills as a makeup artist and I wanted it to reference the antagonists and rebel characters on the album through an abstract design filter. All the characters on the album are in the design, Javert, Trunchbull, Eric, Rutledge…They are all in there somewhere.”
Having performed in various roles including Edward Rutledge in 1766 and King Arthur in Camelot, Tee loves to return to the role of Javert in Les Misérables. “…the role has been very good to me, taking me all over the world. Nothing is more exciting than performing the role for New Zealanders at home like I am right now at The Civic Theatre until the end of November. My heart is full.”
Having lived from a suitcase for over 6 years, Tee is enjoying being back home and singing where he wants on his block in Waipu as he renovates. “I am currently renovating a tiny house on two acres in Waipu which is somewhere I can run away to between jobs – no one is anywhere near me so I can sing at the top of my lungs at 4am in the morning if I want without disturbing a soul. Liberating to feel that after living in hotels for years.”
Like many Kiwi’s who return home, Tee is enjoying the simple things in life “Spending time with family and friends… I’ve chosen an amazing selection including pohutukawa, manuka, some stunning coloured ground covers and flaxes and a carpet moss lawn that never needs to be mowed. There is nothing more amazing than walking across carpet moss in bare feet after it has been raining.”