Ian, split pants, wedding tackle

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Ian von Memerty in Keyboard Killers, at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre last year. He is now starring alongside his wife, Vivienne, in Synergy, at the same theatre until February 18.

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BILLY SUTER chats to theatrical all-rounder IAN VON MEMERTY, who is back at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, until February 18, with his hit show, Synergy, which he performs with his singer-dancer wife Vivienne von Memerty, with backup from backing tracks and Roelof Colyn on stage with keyboards.  The Von Memertys pay tribute to hit musicals and famous songwriting partnerships in a lively, colourful show that spurred a standing ovation on opening night in Durban. Booking is at Computicket outlets.
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WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST UNFORGETTABLE MOMENT ON STAGE EVER – AND WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST UNINTENTIONALLY AMUSING?

There is not one awesome moment – there are layers of memories. Undoubtedly, the greatest joy is that my wife Vivienne and I are still working successfully and happily together – and have plans aplenty.

The most amusing – you choose: falling on my face centrestage at Sun City; having my pants fall down (three times) and once having my pants split while I was kneeling facing the audience. Unfortunately. I had on a pair of underpants that only be described as “money blue’ and when my wedding tackle popped through that split I suddenly went from being a rather naive teenager character to a simian in heat!

WHERE AND WHEN WERE YOU BORN AND WHAT MARKED YOUR FIRST TASTE OF SHOWBIZ ?

I was born in Zimbabwe. The annual pantomime, in what was then Salisbury, was the highlight of my year – and gave me the theatre bug. Undoubtedly, the biggest break was meeting and then being mentored by the great Joan Brickhill.

She gave me the greatest gift a young artist can receive… “ the gift of belief”. She believed in my talent even when I didn’t, and through reinforcement, and work, taught me until I could believe in my talent as well

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN SHOWBIZ, HOW MANY AWARDS HAVE YOU WON – AND OF WHICH AWARD ARE YOU MOST PROUD?

I got my first paid job 40 years ago as a church organist for a wedding, when I was 12. I got my first paid job as pianist for Judy Page when I was 17, 35 years ago. And I have worked professionally as a performer for 34 years! This is one of the most horrifying paragraphs I have ever written! I have won 15 national awards (I think) – for performance, direction, script and production.

The most important award is Husband (26 years) and successful father. There is no award that compares with either of those

 

WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE YOU?

Energetic. Paradoxical. Uxurious (not luxurious). Creative. Eclectic.

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Ian von Memerty… singer, dancer, pianist, actor and funnyman.

WHAT ARE FIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF (HOWEVER TRIVIAL) THAT PEOPLE ARE UNLIKELY TO KNOW?

I was diagnosed bi-polar, type-2, five years ago. I hate shopping. I can’t cook. I love silence. I have become a political commentator (Daily Maverick).

THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON YOU HAVE MET – AND WHO WOULD YOU GIVE GOLD TO MEET? 

Obviously Madiba! I’d love to meet Obama.

HOBBIES, PASTIMES AND FAVOURITE THINGS?

Walking, travelling, gardening, cuddling, my family, my home, my pets.

WHAT FIVE THINGS WOULD YOU LIST UNDER ‘VASTLY OVERRATED’?

Cocktail parties, fame, fashion, reality TV shows and sports stars.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING SOMEONE HAS SAID OF YOU?

“What a quiet chap!”

WHAT ARE YOUR FEARS AND PHOBIAS – AND WHY?

I have lived through my worst fear – losing a child. I give daily thanks that my medication keeps me stable so that I never teeter on the edge of suicide again.

WHAT TRAITS DO YOU MOST DISLIKE IN OTHERS?

Racism and religious intolerance.

WHAT IS THE WORST TROUBLE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN IN?

When I was four, I rode my tricycle from our farm to a neighbour’s farm during the harvest season – with huge trucks roaring past in clouds of dust. My parents did not kiss me goodnight that night, and my backside was very sore.

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED – AND WHO GAVE IT?

The only power you have in any situation in the world – is the choice of your reaction.  And I cannot remember where I got it.

IF YOU COULD INVITE ANY FIVE PEOPLE TO DINNER WHO WOULD THEY BE – AND WHY WOULD YOU INVITE THEM?

I hate dinner parties – but if I wanted to have an interesting collision of personalities then: For wit – Oscar Wilde. To get beneath the surface – Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Also, Bill Bryson – so I could quiz him about A Short History of Nearly Everything, and Tony Sega, because he is the green revolution. Also, Mmusi Maimane – because to have our future president at the table would be a real coup.

THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER HAD? AND THE WORST?

The best: “Your show made me believe in love again”. The worst: “Shame – were you sick?”

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

No-one knows. There are multiple theories and beliefs. Just do right by others, find your truth, and keep moving forward, I say.


2 thoughts on “Ian, split pants, wedding tackle

  1. What a lovely interview. Makes me look forward to finally seeing this man, his wife, his colleagues at Camps Bay’s Theatre On The Bay later this year. Thanks for sharing, Billy.

    Like

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