STAGES with Peter Eyers
Summary: STAGES is the podcast that accesses a variety of people whose professional life is about connecting with an audience. A host of creative artists and practitioners reflect on their career, their process and what matters - to them. Some have made the arts a lifetime pursuit, some explain how their career became a happy accident ... but all describe the challenges and demands - and ultimately celebrate why there's no business like show business! STAGES talks to talent from front of house and backstage - directors, designers, drag artists and doormen ... performers, producers and publicists ... teachers, technicians and talent! Whatever stages it takes to engage and affect an audience - or whatever it takes to carve out a career in the arts - we'll examine it in STAGES. STAGES is the recipient of the Best New Podcaster Award at The Australian Podcast Awards in 2019.
The podcast that converses with creatives about career, craft and what matters to them.
We've arrived at Episode 175 - our final episode in season 3 of the Stages podcast. It's been a monumental year and we've been able to navigate through it completing 68 conversations with artists, creatives and many dynamic roles, defining a score of stages and providing terrific insight to the business we call 'show'. It's no wonder we need a little Christmas! So to finish the year we are joined by some of Stages favourites, to shed some merriment and reminiscences of the Festive season - on stages and off. We'll hear some Christmas tunes and celebrate Saint Nick with Kate Fitzpatrick, Rhonda Burchmore, Ron Creager, Brian Castles-Onion and Geraldine Turner. The perfect company to accompany you as you wrap your presents, toast with egg nog and blast the air-conditioner on Christmas Eve. Thanks for your support of Stages through 2020. Have a jolly Christmas and a super New Year. We'll be back in March 2021. Catch you then. The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
In this very special episode of the Stages podcast we revisit conversations with some of Australia's Leading Ladies of Musical Theatre. They have landed 'down stage centre' in a multitude of musicals, thrilling us with their adept skills of song, dance and acting. Some of these women blazed the way for Australian artists, becoming our first stars , while others broadened horizons and conquered the stages of Broadway and the West End. Each have delivered unique and vibrant artistry to our Musical theatre stages. The anecdotes come thick and fast, as well as providing valuable insight into process and the challenges of maintaining a career of longevity. There are laughs aplenty too. This episode is a masterclass for performers. It's a history lesson of our industry. And it's a jolly journey with some of the finest artists to grace Australian stages. Aren't we lucky? "Hats off! Here they come those beautiful girls" ..... Toni Lamond, Jill Perryman, Nancye Hayes, Caroline O'Connor, Maree Johnson, Bunty Turner, Lisa McCune, Maria Mercedes, Rachael Beck, Donna Lee, Rhonda Burchmore and Geraldine Turner. A delightful dozen to cap a year like no other! Full episodes are available in the Stages archive and accessible where you find your podcasts.
Shauna Jensen is an Australian singer. This year she celebrated her 50th year in 'the business'. She has been a member of multiple bands including Purple Vision and Flake. She was an original cast member of Jesus Christ Superstar, appearing on the Original Australian Cast Recording. Turns in Two Gentlemen of Verona and Betty Blokkbuster followed, Shauna's debut CD, Something Real, was released in 1997. By January 1998 she had won the award for Best Female Vocalist at the inaugural Goulburn Blues Festival; a festival which rivals the Blues Festival at Byron Bay. Shauna has worked as backup vocalist for the leading rock artists in Australia, including Jimmy Barnes, Australia's most beloved rock band Cold Chisel, Richard Clapton, Jon Stevens, Billy Thorpe, Hugh Jackman, Noiseworks, Powderfinger and INXS. For most of the 1980s Shauna was one of the most in-demand studio singers, a career which introduced her to the world of background singing on film, television, radio and in the rock music world, for the next two decades. The new millennium brought with it exciting new projects for Shauna. These include singing background vocals for Carry the Flame by Jon Stevens, the official song for the Sydney 2001 Olympics torch relay. In 2001 Shauna collaborated with legendary Sydney DJ Paul Goodyear and their first single is an uplifting house rework of the Sylvester classic Take Me to Heaven. Stages caught up with Shauna midway of her cabaret season at Claire's Kitchen at Le Salon. The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
A work of startling originality when it debuted in 1938, Thornton Wilder's Our Town evolved to be seen by some as a vintage slice of early 20th Century Americana, rather than being fully appreciated for its complex and eternal themes and its deceptively simple form. Another day's Begun: Thornton Wilder's Our Town in the Twentieth Century is a new book that shines a light on the play's continued impact in the 21st century and makes a case for the healing powers of Wilder's text to a world confronting multiple crises. In this episode I am joined by the author, Howard Sherman. Howard is an arts administrator, advocate and writer based in New York City. He was executive director of the American Theatre Wing from 2003 to 2011 and during that time, his varied responsibilities included incorporating SpringboardNYC, the Theatre Intern Group and The Jonathan Larson Grants into ATW's programming. Howard also conceived the book The Play That Changed My Life; and served on the Tony Awards Management and Administration Committees. During his tenure at the American Theatre Wing, he was executive producer of the company's long running television program Working in the Theatre, hosting 30 panel conversations among the more than 80 shows he produced, and as creator of the audio program Downstage Centre, he interviewed 325 theatre luminaries in a seven-year span. Howard was the first General Manager of Goodspeed Musicals, working on 24 new and classic musicals, including the U.S. premieres of Alan Ayckbourn's work and Andrew Lloyd Webber's By Jeeves. He has moderated artist conversations for public audiences for more than 30 years, having begun by leading post-performance discussions with such noted figures as Athol Fugard and JoAnne Akalaitis at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia. He currently writes a weekly column on U.S. theatre for The Stage in London and writes monthly for Stage Directions magazine. In January 2021 he releases the book in which he appraises and celebrates Thornton Wilder's classic of American drama; Our Town, through the eyes of the folk 'who have spent time in Grover's Corners'. Howard joined Stages from Manhattan in a fascinating conversation about this classic play, and to ponder the future challenge for the Broadway theatre and stages beyond. The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
Suzy Wrong is a theatre critic and blogger for the Sydney main stage and independent scenes, publishing at Suzy Goes See. Suzy is the industry's most prolific critic, providing coverage for approximately 200 productions each year. Since 2013, she has established herself as the most in-demand theatre critic, receiving review requests from virtually every venue in Sydney. Commencing a career in performance in early 1992 with the Singapore Armed Forces Music & Drama Company, Suzy received formal training and intensive stage experience all over Singapore and in neighbouring countries. Her work culminated in a "Best Performance of the Year" Award for the play Purple. Suzy employs a depth of understanding for live performance that allows an appreciation of all components. She moved to Sydney to undertake a Theatre & Film Studies degree at the University of New South Wales. Her focus then switched to studying the artistic ecology of Sydney. A myriad of professional experiences have seen Suzy spend three years in the Blue Mountains region running a gallery; and then a period in the child talent industry. A stint in commercial publishing, allowed her to cut her teeth in the corporate world of audience numbers and advertising revenue. Most recently she inhabited the character of the eccentric and glamorous clairvoyant Roxy, an Asian Trans woman, in the SBS television production of Hungry Ghosts. It is a role she has relished and has given her the opportunity to champion the diversity landscape on Australian screens and stages. Suzy has begun the return to theatres as stories begin to be told once more. She discusses being back in an auditorium and the glamour and eloquence that contributes to being Suzy Wrong The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
Shirley Germain was Opera Australia's wig-mistress for 38 years. Her husband, John Germain, was a revered singer with the Company for 40 years, performing many of the great Baritone roles. Commencing her career as a hairdresser, she found that the Opera Company was looking for someone to oversee the preparation and maintenance of the many wigs required in production. It was the second year of its existence. Already associated with the Company, through her husband, the role seemed a perfect fit. The young company made do in various venues around Sydney until 1973 when Opera Australia made the Sydney Opera House its new home. Shirley has been in the unique position of having had a 'front-row seat', observing the company grow and triumph over several decades. She has worked with the greats of the Opera World, and counted many of them as her close friends. Shirley has contributed enormously in her preparation, styling and care of the 'heads' of the characters in Opera. This unique artistry is of paramount importance to the success of a production, contributing to the aesthetics and allowing a singer to take the stage with confidence and character. It is a role Shirley has relished and we are indeed privileged to have access to her experience and anecdote in this delightful episode of Stages. The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
If you happened last year, to catch the phenomenon that is Fangirls, you are no doubt aware of the brilliance of Yve Blake. The musical, created by Yve, celebrated the cult of fandom in a most exhilarating and engaging story-telling. The show broke box-office records and guaranteed her place as a theatre-maker to watch. Yve is an award winning writer, composer and comedian. She is an alumna of the Royal Court Writers' Programme and has completed residencies with Griffin Theatre, the ATYP National Studio, Old Vic New Voices, the Barbican, the National Theatre and Princeton University. Her debut play SUGAR SUGAR premiered in 2015, and Yve has also created several internationally touring solo shows, including the acclaimed THEN which played to sold out crowds at the Soho Theatre in London. She was the recipient of the 2016 Rebel Wilson Theatre-maker scholarship at ATYP and a member of the 2017 Belvoir Artists' Workshop. Yve was one of just 17 speakers at TEDxSydney 2019, and has also spoken at the Women of the World Festival 2018 at London's Southbank Centre. Yve is currently adapting Fangirls for the screen, co-writing a Screenplay for Aquarius Films, adapting an Aussie kids book into a musical, and developing a podcast musical about Mary Wollstonecraft. So much to talk about, so let's get going in this awesome episode of Stages. The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
Opening at The Lyric Theatre in Sydney next week is the Broadway revival of Stephen Schwartz' musical Pippin - the coming-of-age story of a young man searching for his place in the world. Ryan Yeates and George Holahan-Cantwell share the role of Theo. The two young actors have amassed considerable professional engagement in their burgeoning careers. Ryan is 15 and George is 12. Young actors are a regular presence, and often an awe-inspiring addition, to the narratives in much of musical theatre. Contemporary commercial offerings have necessitated a corpse de ballet of dance hopefuls in Billy Elliot or a class of school brats in Matilda - the musical. But it's a tradition that has long been present on stages - we've gaped at the talents demonstrated by the Von Trapp children in The Sound Of Music, the tenacity of the orphans in Annie and the stamina of the workhouse boys in Oliver. Sometimes, the creators have even thrown in an animal or two, to increase the charm factor. Star turns by canine characters have given us Sandy in Annie, Chowsie in Gypsy and Toto in The Wizard Of Oz. Pippin has both of these. A beguiling boy actor to play the role of Theo - and a duck! George enjoys everything involving music and you will often find him singing, playing the piano and producing his own music. A talented performer with a passion for musical theatre, George recently completed the Sydney season of School of Rock playing the role of the keyboardist Lawrence, and before that, the role of Benji in Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Ryan returns to the stage after recently playing the lead role of Charlie Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the role of Noah in Caroline or Change for the Hayes Theatre Co. He trains in all forms of dance and has won many State and Australian titles in Irish Dancing. A regular performer with The Wiggles on TV and DVD, Ryan features as the Junior Purple Wiggle, in the ABC series Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle; as well performing in the Emma series. Stages is fascinated by the extraordinary talents expressed by young triple threats in the navigation of these narratives. How does one so young achieve such detailed, mature and skilful performance? George and Ryan provide an insight to the work, commitment and drive of these young thespians. The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
Ditch Davey is a charming bloke and a terrific actor. Following study at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts he cut his teeth on a series of commercial and series work with All Saints, Above The Law, Water Rats and the telemovie Do Or Die. It wasn't long before her arrived permanently on our screens in the guise of Constable Evan Jones in the police drama, Blue Heelers. This stint garnered him the Logie Award for Most Popular New Male Talent. Davey went on to host Channel Seven's Police Files - Unlocked before leaving to work on Sea Patrol. He played SAS officer Jim Roth on a semi-regular basis. He portrayed Romeo in the 2012 Australian Science-Fiction Film Crawlspace. He featured in the final season of Spartacus: War of the Damned. Film engagements have followed and a role as Dr Ian Bickman in the US produced series Black Box; a medical drama which screened on the ABC network. Davey starred alongside Terry Kinney and Vanessa Redgrave. Ditch Davey can presently be seen in Home & Away as Summer Bay's new medic, Dr Christian Green. It had been a few years since I last caught up with Ditch. Nothing had changed. He possessed the same charming, funny and contagious spirit that has obviously propelled him into a triumphant career on screens and stage. The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
Chris Edmund is a director, teacher, writer, and painter. He was Head of the Acting Department at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), where he had a significant role in developing the world-renowned acting and directing training over 30 years. Actors who trained under his guidance include Hugh Jackman, Frances O'Connor, and Jai Courtney. He is a published playwright with his work receiving high critical acclaim and as a painter he has had several exhibitions, most recently at the Brunswick Street Gallery, Melbourne. His play Dirty Laundry which he also directed, was performed at the Smock Alley Theatre Dublin in 2014. Chris commenced his career in London where he directed for the Gate Theatre Notting Hill, the Riverside Studios, the Kings Head and New End Theatres. He also directed for regional companies. In Australia he continues to direct professionally. He recently opened the play The Other Place for the Fremantle Theatre Company in Perth. He also directed his own play Bacon and Eggs at the Old Fitz Theatre, Sydney. He has been both Dramaturg and Director for the Australian National Playwrights Conference. Chris has been Visiting Fellow at the National University of Singapore, directing a new play by Singapore Playwright, Chua Tze Wei, taught a series of Master Classes at the Gaiety School Dublin and directed The Caucasian Chalk Circle for Middlesex University, London. His production of The Pillars of Society was performed at the International Theatre School Festival in Amsterdam. In 2015 he was honoured in New York by Hugh Jackman and Master Card with a scholarship in his name, The Chris Edmund Performing Arts Scholarship. He presented the scholarship in 2015 in a ceremony at WAAPA. In a varied and vivid career he has also completed a stint at The Pronouncer on the highly successful Channel Ten reality show, The Great Australian Spelling Bee. Chris is a super bloke and a consummate artist and teacher. In this conversation he demonstrates exactly why. Enjoy! The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
Michael Tyack has been a vital presence in the Australian Musical Theatre industry for several decades. His extraordinary contribution has seen him provide guidance and leadership in a variety of musical roles - audition and rehearsal pianist, pit musician, accompanist, musical arranger, composer and Musical Director. He began working as a professional musician in 1974 for J.C. Williamson's in Melbourne and entered the world of Musicals via their celebrated production of A Little Night Music. He moved to Sydney to conduct the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Chicago then was Musical Director for their productions of The Stripper, Four Lady Bowlers, Jonah, Company, Merrily We Roll Along, Falsettos, Miracle City and Summer Rain, whilst also providing music for several of their plays. He has contributed to the production of many prominent commercial musicals. A vast list includes Cats, Phantom Of The Opera, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Singing In The Rain, The Lion King and Wicked. He has musically directed productions of Side By Side By Sondheim, Chess, The Twenties and All That Jazz, Gershwin, The Wizard of Oz, Jerry's Girls, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, High School Musical, The Boy From Oz, Tivoli, The Witches of Eastwick (for which he was awarded a Green Room Award), Eureka, Spamalot and the Hugh Jackman tour of The Boy From Oz. Further shows at the helm of the orchestra cover The Production Company's Dusty, Brigadoon and The Boy From Oz. He garnered another Green Room Award and a Helpmann Award for the musical direction of the Disney/Cameron Mackintosh production of Mary Poppins. Michael's cabaret and concert credits are extensive too, having worked with Australian and overseas artists including Sutton Foster, Betty Buckley, Trevor Ashley, Toni Lamond, Michael Ball, David Campbell, Geraldine Turner, Caroline O'Connor, Nancye Hayes, Michael Crawford and Judi Connelli; both here and abroad. Michael is passionate about his work and has amassed an extraordinary list of experiences. He has often been on the 'ground floor' of much of the musical theatre product produced and created in Australia; and has enjoyed a front row seat to much extraordinary creation. It is indeed a pleasure to welcome 'MyTy', at last, to Stages.
Joan Carden was born in Melbourne in 1937 on the anniversary of the great composer Giuseppe Verdi's birth. After understudying June Bronhill as 'The Merry Widow' in 1960, Joan Carden sought tuition in London studying with her major musical influence, London-trained and based, West Australian-born, multi-lingual, expatriate vocal coach, Vida Harford. Joan Carden appeared in opera and concerts in Europe before initially joining The Australian Opera in concerts in 1970. The following year marked her stage debut with the company as 'Liu' in Turandot and 'Marguerite' in Faust. After much acclaim in Australia as 'Gilda' in Rigoletto she was invited to repeat the role at Covent Garden. Engagements ensued throughout the United Kingdom and United States. Joan Carden has sung virtually all the Mozart heroines. Her performance of 'Violetta' in Verdi's La Traviata has been noted for the moving interpretation. Her voice in 'Violetta's' famous aria, is on the sound track of the film Priscilla, Queen of The Desert. She has sung more than 50 major roles from the 18th century through to contemporary works , including: 'Desdemona' (Otello); 'Leonora' in both Il Trovatore and La Forza del Destino; 'Elisabetta' (both Don Carlos and Maria Stuarda); 'Rosalinde' in Die Fledermaus, 'Feldmarschallin' (Der Rosenkavalier) and 'Ellen Orford' (Peter Grimes); 'Tatyana' (Yevgeny Onyegin)- in Russian and English. Other title roles include Alcina, Lakme, and Adriana Lecouvreur. She has embraced Musical Theatre performances as Mother Abbess in the Gordon/ Frost Organisation's The Sound of Music and Ida Strauss in Titanic. In 2003, she took on a last role for Opera Australia - 'Public Opinion' based on controversial political figure, Pauline Hanson, in a satirical new version of Orpheus in the Underworld. Joan Carden is engaging grace and charm. She reflects warmly on a career that has not only brought audiences great joy but also rewarded her, in the ability to gift the art of song. The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
In any history of the Australian stage, my guest today would figure significantly. Terence Clarke has contributed to a myriad of theatrical fare - as Director, Actor, Composer, Writer and Teacher. Clarke directed the world premieres of John O'Donoghue's A Happy and Holy Occasion and Janis Balodis' Backyard. Together with Nick Enright, he wrote the musicals Variations, The Venetian Twins and Summer Rain - repertoire visited regularly by theatre companies and celebrated by new generations of performers and audience. In this episode he speaks extensively of his writing partnership with Enright and the geneses of their celebrated works; musicals that have become classics in the Australian musicals canon. His appointments have included Associate Director of Perth's National Theatre Company, founding Artistic Director of the Hunter Valley Theatre Company, Artistic Director of the National Playwright's conference and Head of Directing at The National Institute of Dramatic Art. In 2007, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia. Terence is tremendous company and is a fine raconteur. An hour in his company is a valuable history lesson and brilliant instruction. What a joy to sit down with Terence Clarke for this special episode of STAGES. The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.
Aarne Neeme started his professional theatre career in 1962, as a dancer in a Christmas pantomime at Melbourne's Tivoli Theatre. In an extensive career he has contributed as a director and a lecturer in both vocational and academic institutions, throughout Australia and in New Zealand and Singapore. Aarne has directed well over 300 productions covering the whole classical and contemporary repertoire; and specialising in new writing. He has been the Artistic Director of a number of organisations and has worked for most of the major theatre companies. Most notably, he has held the positions of Artistic Director of National Theatre Co. Perth, Hunter Valley Theatre Co., Hole in the Wall Theatre Co. and Head of the Theatre Department at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore. He has also worked in television, directing on drama series such as Blue Heelers, All Saints, MDA, Home and Away, Neighbours and Out of the Blue. He has been the recipient of various awards in Sydney, Perth, Newcastle and Canberra. Most impressively an Order of Australia (AM) for his work as a director and educator in theatre and television. Aarne is a charming gentleman, a man of the theatre and an consummate artist. What a privilege to hear his insights. Enjoy! The Stages podcast is available from Apple podcasts, Spotify, Whooshkaa and where all good podcasts are found.