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Coasting : Issue 3 2009
4 By DAVID STEWART JOSHUA Horner From Wyong to Broadway BEACH BOY: Horner is loving his time in New York, but he does miss the beaches of the Central Coast. Picture: DAMIANTIERNEY.com from Tierneys Photography. ’M standing in the middle of Times Square right now trying to buy a Sprite,” Joshua Horner tells me. “I Right on cue a New York City taxi driver sounds his horn and drowns out Joshua’s voice. The Central Coast dancer, singer and actor has just stepped off stage from the Broadway production of the award-winning Billy Elliot The Musical, and he’s heading for the subway and the ride home to his pad on West 17th Street in Chelsea. “Sorry, mate,” Joshua says down the phone line, “I’ll be with you in a second… I’ll just get this drink then I’ll be right to chat. How’s the Central Coast?’’ he asks. Before I can answer the shop owner interrupts. His thick New York accent makes him sound like a Seinfeld character. He wants Joshua to hand over more coins. “The coins here are really different,” Joshua says in an aside to me. “I still haven’t got used to them.” And don’t get him started on the fact that America doesn’t have Red Rooster outlets. It’s just 30 seconds into our conversation, and although our “interview” hasn’t actually started, already I’ve had a snapshot into the 29-year-old’s world. A fi sh out of water, but loving every minute of it. A Wyong boy in some dream. And living every minute of it. The switch For fi ve and a half years Joshua was one of the Australian Ballet’s brightest stars. So when he made the decision in 2004 to leave the ballet and switch to musical theatre he was risking plenty. But Joshua’s talent, perpetual optimism and unswerving drive to succeed would ensure that failure was not an option. Just fi ve years after making the switch, Joshua’s resume is an eye-opener. A starring role in the Sydney production of Billy Elliot The Musical, the lead role in Movin’ Out, the Billy Joel musical on London’s West End and, the big one, a role in the Broadway production of Billy Elliot The Musical. There is no bigger stage on the planet than Broadway, and there is no bigger night for the American theatre world than The Tony Awards and, in June this year, Joshua was chosen to perform in the opening number for the awards ceremony with the co-writer of Billy Elliot The Musical, Elton John. It’s a moment Joshua will be adding to the career highlights reel. “A boy from Wyong… and here I am in the opening number of The Tonys with Elton John,” he said, recalling his emotions as the curtain went up. “I fi rst got to meet Elton during the Sydney production of Billy Elliot. He was great. On opening night in Sydney he came up to me after the show hugged me and said ‘Well done, Josh. What a great show!’ “It’s quite surreal when someone famous like that knows your name.” And Joshua Horner is a name that American casting agents now have in their little black books. “I’m starting to get known,” Joshua said. “I’m getting really good feedback from everyone that I’m slowly getting to meet. Everyone seems to know about ‘that bloody Aussie’ who has landed here.” What a way to make a living At the time Coasting went to press, Joshua was awaiting the outcome of his auditions for two Broadway musicals – Nine to Five, based on the music of Dolly Parton, and Spiderman “which is absolutely full-on,” he said. There are other shows coming up, and if everything goes to plan Joshua hopes to base himself in New York for years to come. MAIN MAN: Horner (left) rubs shoulders with the co-writer of Billy Elliot The Musical Elton John and his partner David Furnish at The Tony Awards. “There will be regular trips back home to Australia, but I’ll predominantly be based in New York,” he said. And despite the rewards he has reaped from taking risks, and the string of successes that he has enjoyed on stages around the world, Joshua is taking nothing for granted. “You just never know in this industry,” he said of the future. For that reason he is also honing his skills as BIG YELLOW TAXI: Joshua Horner in Times Square, New York. It’s a long way from Wyong, but it’s the place Horner plans to call home for years to come. Picture by Liz Pearce. a television actor, choreographer, fi lm maker, editor and director. “I’ve always had this dream that I wanted to do everything in life within the arts and entertainment industry,” he said. When his dancing days are done, Joshua’s dream job would be to work with a mouse. “I’ve got connections at Disney and I’d love to one day be running the shows that they put on in their theme parks. I’d like to join their creative teams who work on things like adapting Disney movies to stage shows.”
Issue 2 2009
Issue 4 2009