Naomi Price is an Australian performer who rose to fame on the 2015 season of The Voice. Adele Adkins is an English singer and songwriter who rose to fame with her first album 19. The pair have not met, something that Naomi thinks would be very weird and if Adele should ever ring Naomi she thinks she would pass out. But Adele has inspired Naomi to celebrate her achievements and Adele herself in the award winning show Rumour Has It.
“I wasn’t really a fan when I started. I loved her album 21 but I wasn’t like ‘oh my gosh I love Adele I need to write a show about her.’ She just seemed like a really great songwriter and a really interesting character and then I kind of fell in love with her by accident.”
“She is an amazing songwriter. She has written three incredible albums of music. At the age of 19 she released her first album and she has basically gone onto global domination. My co-writer and I just fell in love with her. After researching her a bit, watching a few interviews and reading some articles and biographies we just fell in love with her and decided to write a show about her.”
Naomi’s co-writer is Adam Brunes. They started writing the Rumour Has It show in the front room of Naomi’s house. The show came together pretty easily as they had a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve and how Naomi wanted to play the character. Today it is an evolving show that they are constantly working on.
“We always change the show, we’re always writing new sections. Some of the sections have stayed exactly the same from the very first time we performed the show and other parts of the show are totally different,” Naomi recently told me in our phone conversation.
“The changes evolve out of two things. One is through who the audience are, so there are a lot of jokes in the show about the location at which we are performing. So for example, we took the show to regional Queensland in 2013 and we had a great time poking fun at hilarious places we had driven through on the way to Gladstone and Bundaberg. Fun things like that help give the show a real charm. Obviously playing a real live person you are always going to get new material because they are always going to be doing new things, so that changes the show as well. She has released another album since we wrote the first version of the show. So that is the two main things that change and also we put a lot of commentary in the show about what is happening in the media, about what is happening in politics. Stupid things famous people are doing and lucky for us famous people keep doing stupid things so we always have something to laugh about.”
Naomi does follow Adele on social media but explained that Adele is a very private person, giving her and Adam a lot of scope in the development of the show.
“The great thing about Adele is that she is a really private celebrity. She doesn’t put anything personal on social media. The only time she has been photographed with her kids was at Disneyland and that was about three years ago. So what is great for us is that we are able to fill in the blanks for the audience and take liberties with the
character. If I was playing Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton, people might go ‘oh she didn’t do that, she did this’ because we know everything about their boring life. But when it is someone like Adele you really get the opportunity to just fill in the gaps and create the person you want to create and talk about what you want to talk about which is great as an actor.”
Like Adele herself, Rumour Has It, appeals to a range of people. “ We always say the show is probably suitable for ages 12-13 and up because I do swear a lot in the show but I recently did a concert where I sang some of Adele’s songs and afterwards a little five year old boy came up and his mum said ‘oh my goodness he absolutely loves Adele and now after seeing you perform he loves you as well.’ Which is great. We have fans from five years old to 85 years old.”
Through the commentary Naomi brings a sense of fun to the show best shown in this story that she shared with me.
“In Adelaide there was a bit in the show where I started asking people about their first love and this woman in the audience was 65 and fabulous and single. So hopefully by putting the word out and letting the eligible bachelors in the audience know that she was still single, well maybe she hooked up that night. Who knows? It’s great. We have people from all sorts of cultural backgrounds coming and seeing our show. Which is kind of a massive tribute to how appealing Adele’s music is and how far she has reached.”
Naomi is supported by a seven piece band that includes, on backing vocals, her boyfriend Luke Kennedy, best known for coming second on the Voice in 2013. The same band have been touring with the show from the beginning four years ago.
“It becomes like a family and that is what makes the show so tight and makes the show so loveable. Each band member is on the stage for the whole show and they become part of the action. I can’t even think of doing the show with other musicians because when I look around and see their faces I think yeah this is the show. They are amazing, all of them.”
If you are looking for something more than a tribute concert then this is the show for you.
“We don’t think of it as a tribute show. We always say it is ‘pop culture cabaret’. You come to a show where I am talking to the audience and I am singing songs and I just happen to be playing the character of Adele. I don’t in any way, shape or form, think I am her. It’s just another role that I play.”
Naomi and Adam have also written a show about Miley Cyrus called Wrecking Ball, which toured for one year. As the title suggests, it was written and performed during Miley’s Wrecking Ball period. Think shaved head, twerking , dancing on a wrecking ball! It’s a show that Naomi also enjoyed performing in.
“It’s awesome. In a lot of ways I think it’s a really, really great show. It’s just that the difference between Miley and Adele is that Adele has long lasting appeal whereas
Miley was very much an in-joke at that time and it was really current and popular but now two years have passed and people are not so shocked by her anymore.”
I asked Naomi if there are any other performers she would like to bring to the stage. She laughed and said that she and Adam have had a laugh about writing a show about Celine Dion but it’s all about the right time, right place, right artist.
“For us we got lucky with Adele. We wrote the show before she released her third album and now she is undeniably the biggest star in the world but four years ago people were still waiting for what she was going to do next and so we wrote this show in that gap and now we are kind of riding that wave with her. I mean we are not doing arenas and stadiums like she is but it’s been a very interesting period and journey.”
They may not be doing arenas and stadiums but as I pointed out the Sydney Opera House and Hamer Hall are iconic venues.
“I know and to think this was just a fun thing that we decided to write one night and now four years later it’s what we do for a living. That’s really, really cool. It’s just one of those rags to riches stories where you go, this is just a small dream that I had and now I am playing Hamer Hall, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Sydney Opera House. We will take the show overseas next month.”
Naomi was quick to tell me that the overseas tour hasn’t been formally announced so it’s a bit of an exclusive for Rock Club 40. She assured me, with a quiet laugh, that I could mention the tour but she can’t confirm any more details other than it will be to South East Asia.
The Hamer Hall show on July 30th is one Naomi is very much looking forward to and hoping Melbourne audiences will embrace.
“It’s absolutely amazing [Hamer Hall]. I can’t believe that we are taking a show that I wrote in my front room into such an incredible venue. It’s just stunning.”
If you would like a preview of Rumour Has it, there are six tracks from the show recorded three years ago, available on iTunes.
Naomi’s final message is “it’s a really fun, accessible show. You can bring anyone to it as long as they don’t mind a bit of swearing.”
by Suzanne Bunker
Copyright © Suzanne Bunker 2016. All rights reserved