Extract of the article:
It says something for Lovegrove’s persuasive powers, not to mention his mellifluous voice, that he could get a mainly Kiwi audience to sing – “Il mio solo pensiero, il mio solo pensier sei tu” from Puccini’s Tosca.
Lovegrove – elder brother of standup comedian Brendhan Lovegrove – wasn’t actually there to sing, he just couldn’t help himself. He was there to tell the inspirational story of how two mates in the Sydney suburb of Redfern created the world’s biggest corporate entertainment act that has now been performed nearly 10,000 times in 77 countries.
The Three Waiters turned out to be big business, one Lovegrove has since sold out of. Lovegrove made an undisclosed amount from selling his half share – though it was enough to buy a “lovely home” for his wife and two young daughters in the desirable Sydney suburb of Seaforth and to keep them nicely since. And it hasn’t stopped him telling his entrepreneurial story on the celebrity speakers circuit in Australia and New Zealand.
Lovegrove grew up wanting to be a rock’n’roll superstar rather than an entrepreneur. Born in Auckland, he spent his early years in Malawi and Switzerland where his father worked as a lawyer for the United Nations. After his parents split up, his mother and the two brothers returned to live in Auckland when Lovegrove was five. He and Brendhan attended the Dilworth boys’ schools where he appeared in every school performance he could.
“Ever since I was four or five years old I was a bit eccentric; I was always singing something and into plays and drama.”
Lovegrove attributes his and his brother’s creativity to his mother who performed as a singer in the 1950s.
He initially trained to be a primary school teacher , a would-be career quickly dumped before he’d even qualified after he was chosen alongside fellow Kiwi singer Rob Guest to perform in musical blockbuster Les Miserables in Sydney.
He was just 22 and a star in the making. He next appeared in Chess and then toured in a duo around Australia with a friend, who played acoustic guitar while he sang. The duo broke up after his fellow performer fell in love with a new girlfriend and two became three.
“It was like me being Paul McCartney and her being Yoko Ono,” he recalls.
A few months later he was unemployed and more than ready for the call from his agent about auditioning for the lead role in the Harry M Miller-produced musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. He got the part and became a household name in Australia and New Zealand where the show toured for many months.
Former schoolmate and near neighbour Andy Lark, the chief marketing officer for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, jokes that Lovegrove was right for the lead as he “always thought he was Jesus”. He was always performing, always seeking to entertain even at a young age, Lark says.
Actually he’s still like that now. In conversation he’s constantly acting out what’s he’s talking about or bursting into song.
The last thing Lovegrove had in mind in 1997 was becoming an entrepreneur. That is, until his Redfern flatmate Mark Bradley, a society photographer and opera singer, came home one day and asked him if he knew any opera.
He’d just missed out on a part in Auckland featuring a “real tenor” so it was something of a touchy subject.
Again The Three Waiters proved a roaring success, and Lovegrove handed out all his business cards within minutes after the show to well-to-do businessmen who were keen to have it repeated at their next corporate event.
Bradley describes his former partner as an excellent entrepreneur, with business talents that complemented his own creativity.
They decided to make the move to Britain and the US in 2000, where Bradley says it was hard persuading people that a show featuring singing waiters could work for corporate entertainment.
Another business highlight was performing The Three Waiters in Britain in 2003 before the Three Tenors.
The real tenors gave the Australian-conceived act a standing ovation, a response that moved Bradley to tears.
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