Audiobooks New Zealand
Our first narrator interview is with an amazing New Zealand actor, musical director, and vocal mimic; the artistically and musically adroit Paul Barrett. His school reports said Paul ‘must stop showing off in class and attracting the attention of others.’ But his instinct wasn’t to be disruptive, it was to think about how he could engage an audience.
He was gifted with a brilliant ability to convey sounds, accents and music from an early age, understanding intonation and inflection from his own youthful instinct at 4 years old. He attributes his 64 year old voice to whatever he picked up in England as a toddler, coupled with the fact that he was blessed with an incredible set of ears. He was gifted The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde by his mother as a teenager (narrated by the great Bing Crosby, of course) and it seems the rest is history when it comes to the expansive knowledge and experience of all things audible that Paul has accumulated over his career.
Paul has made a huge impact in the realm of Radio Drama in this country, working with the best of the best of actors - who were all employed lucratively back in the 80s (bless you RNZ) - so he could use the time and experience to hone his craft.
Paul says he reads what he’s told to, but he’s lucky enough to narrate some key Aotearoa titles, from Hea Kai to Rock College, a History of Mt Eden Prison. Paul didn’t go to a formal drama school, but he’s been a consummate repertory performer in well over 80 productions in his extensive career, while managing to master the piano privately and study Music History and Music Composition under some of the greatest teachers our university’s have had the privilege to employ.
Paul loves the role of the narrator in bringing a story to life for an auditory audience. His performance background seems to have always led him back to the pursuit of the voice, and all things vocal. He’s one of a small handful of people who won Best Narrator awards when (then) Blind Foundation, (now) BLVNZ were still dishing out the coveted trophy, won by the likes of Merv Smith and Wendy Karstens.
With international books, like Wilbur Smith level massive selling swashbuckler-y literature, Paul is often developing over 80-90 different voices and accents, to maintain the authenticity of the world he’s creating with the engineer. For real.
He may think his voice isn’t ‘in vogue’ anymore, but by crikey I learn a lot from this man. And hey, if anyone gets the chance to do Dylan Thomas’s 1954 radio drama ‘Under Milkwood’ for any broadcast audience - TWICE NO LESS - they’re pretty incredible to me.
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Romy Hooper, Audiobook Narrator, Actor, Writer and Podcast Host