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.
Originally from Queensland, Michaeljon Slinger moved to the United States in 2004 after winning the Australian Dancer of the Year Award and receiving full scholarship to attend American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. He went on to attend the B.F.A Dance program at the prestigious Julliard School in New York City, making him the first Australian to be accepted into either one of these programs. In 2009, Michaeljon made his Broadway debut as an original cast member and Dance Captain of the revival of West Side Story, directed by Arthur Laurents. He continued his career on Broadway as both a performer and Dance Captain, appearing in the Broadway companies of Billy Elliot the Musical, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Evita, Side Show, and Matilda. His performing career culminated in the role of Dance Captain for the 2017 revival of Broadway's Hello Dolly! Starring Bette Midler. Michaeljon's career shifted in 2018, when he made his West End debut as Associate Director and Choreographer of the brand new musical, Mythic. He continues to thrive as a Choreographer, most lately working alongside Lorin Latarro, first as Associate Choreographer on Michael Mayer's World Premiere of La Traviata at the Metropolitan Opera, and following in quick succession as Assistant Choreographer and Dance Captain of the Roundabout Theatre and Fiasco Theatre production of Merrily We Roll Along in New York. The pair are currently collaborating on two Broadway-bound shows with Michaeljon serving as Associate Choreographer for both Almost Famous and Mrs Doubtfire. When not performing, Michaeljon promotes the importance of Arts Education and hopes to continue to share his knowledge and experience with the next generation of young performers. Check out: www.michaeljonslinger.com
At 19, Laneikka Denne is an award-winning playwright, actor, and filmmaker based in Western Sydney. Her debut play Dead Skin was awarded the State Theatre Company & Flinders University Young Playwright's Award and is published by Australian Plays. She is currently developing a new work titled Shithole for Q Theatre. In 2020, Laneikka ventured into screen with her debut short Mitsuku. The script was selected by producer Liz Arday on behalf of ScreenJam Productions in the UK to be produced in 2021. In addition to this, her other short, Feed Me Bubbe is in pre-production in Sydney. Young queer women are at the heart of all of her work, as she seeks to represent real women with agency and intrigue. Dead Skin will premiere at the King's Cross Theatre (KXT) on April 2nd and run until the 17th. Written at the tender age of seventeen, the play is a hybrid text of queer and hetero love stories that challenge what it truly means to love and be loved at seventeen. It is a coming-of-age story of a mother and daughter navigating the toxicity of their own relationships, in search of that 'thing' we will never have with any other human, the truest form of love; an inherent, maternal connection. Check out: http://www.kingsxtheatre.com/dead-skin
Lyndon Terracini is the Artistic Director of Opera Australia. He has also enjoyed a highly successful, international opera career; and received accolades as an actor, director and writer. He is a renaissance man! Lyndon was appointed Artistic Director and CEO of the Queensland Music Festival in 2000 and directed the 2001, 2003 and 2005 festivals. He was appointed Artistic Director/CEO of Brisbane Festival in 2005 and Artistic Director/CEO of Major Brisbane Festivals in November 2007. He is the recipient of many awards including an Honorary Doctorate in Music Theatre by Central Queensland University, a Fellowship by the Music Fund of the Australia Council for the Arts, an Honorary D. Univ. from Southern Cross University and the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Cultural Leadership Award by the Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF). In 2005 Lyndon Terracini was also appointed Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland. In 2007 he was awarded a D.Univ. from Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Lyndon was also a member of the International Jury for the Venice Biennale for Music and Savonlinna Opera Festival, and delivered the 2011 Peggy Glanville-Hicks address. His service to the performing arts as an opera performer, director and administrator was recognised in 2014 with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours. In 2018 Lyndon was awarded one of the highest civilian honours in Italy, Commander of the Order of the Star of Italy (Commendatore dell'Ordine della Stella d'Italia). It is an impressive list of accolades and they make him admirably equipped to steer the cultural flagship of Opera Australia. The 2021 season of Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour is about to commence with a lavish production of La Traviata. Lyndon elaborates on his introduction of this elaborate staging of opera and how it has grown to become one of the most anticipated on the cultural calendar. He also describes navigating the company through a pandemic and reflects on a sterling career as performer and producer, in this joyous episode of STAGES.
Listening to Michael Cassel's early forays into DIY producing, it is apparent that a career as a major player on stages was his destiny. As an avid letter writer he sought advice and opportunity from anyone prepared to listen to his ambition and passion. At 14 he galvanised a community to support him in his first vision of a live entertainment - the Kiama Carols by Candlelight Christmas Spectacular. The success of the show cemented his hungry pursuit and quest to succeed in a precarious industry. An apprenticeship in a variety of offices and theatres, guided along the way by a masterful faculty of mentors such as Harry M. Miller, James Thane, John Frost, Thomas Schumacher, Michael Eisner and Cameron Macintosh built determination, experience and resilience. Learning on the job provided him with a multitude of creative skills and business acumen. Cassel rightly fits the label of Showman. His enthusiasm for the job is palpable. He surprises with his calm demeanour and extensive knowledge of all aspects of production - personnel and craft. He is respectful of heritage and keen to blaze a way into what live entertainment might be in the future. He formed his company, the Michael Cassel Group, to produce and present the world's greatest musical and theatrical productions, live entertainment experiences, marquee events and concert attractions. It is well on its way! Productions have included the triumphant 19-month Australian and international tour of Les Misérables, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, the 10th Anniversary Tour of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the Australian premiere of Cyndi Lauper's Kinky Boots and the Australian and Asian tour of Singin' in the Rain. Broadway and West End co-producer credits include DreamWorks' The Prince of Egypt, Pretty Woman: The Musical and The Cher Show. Next week he premieres the Australian production of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. Michael provided Stages with access to 'the room where it happens' to discover his remarkable story, his passion for the work and some hint at the future, in this most excellent episode of STAGES.
A serial entertainment entrepreneur, a dynamic Master of Ceremonies and an accomplished musical theatre performer, Darryl Lovegrove was a member of the original Australian casts of Les Miserables and Chess. He is also known for his celebrated portrayal of Jesus in the Australian and New Zealand tours of Jesus Christ Superstar. He featured with Sarah Brightman in the Australasian tour of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and received critical acclaim as John Lennon in the New Zealand national tour of Looking Through a Glass Onion. In 1998, Darryl co-created the operatic global phenomenon The Three Waiters which became, and remains to this day, the most-booked corporate entertainment act in the world. The business established offices in Sydney, London and New York, and the act has been seen by more than 3 million people in over 80 countries. In 2009, Darryl formed 'Lovegrove Entertainment' which produced Australasian corporate entertainment favourites The Leading Men and Jersey to Motown. In 2012 Darryl and his then 12 year old daughter, Harmony, known as Darryl & Harmony were awarded the Australian Event Awards 'Entertainer of the Year'. Darryl has recently released a book titled 'Why Haven't I Heard Of You?' The book details his experiences on stages and in the business world. He also examines the creation of new work and generously gives advice to performers. Maintaining a passion and striving for longevity in a precarious industry can present challenges. Darryl speaks with passion and wisdom born from a rewarding ride in the business we call show.
The two tools crucial to a performer are the voice and the body. We tell stories with the spoken and sung word - and communicate through movement - shapes, attitudes and gesture! STAGES has featured episodes where we have discussed vocal care with singers and teachers - today we examine movement - which is so important to creative story-tellers. Indeed effective movement to all of us is important - especially as we get older. A method of movement which has figured prominently is that pioneered by Joseph Pilates. Originally created in the early twentieth century when Joseph Pilates was interned as an 'enemy alien' at the outbreak of war while living in the UK, it was soon developed as a form a of rehabilitation for soldiers returning from war. Later it was embraced by dancers such as Martha Graham and George Balanchine to assist with the aches and pains acquired from the art form and to strengthen dancers' bodies. Today we'll look at why this method of training has supported so many with freer motion and strength. We also consider the work developed by Movement Practitioners, Rudolph Laban and Tadashi Suzuki in their support of performance. My Guest in this episode is a former Drama teacher who operates her own Pilates studio, 'Perform Pilates', in the Sydney suburb of Stanmore. She's very familiar with the practitioners mentioned and is a tremendous advocate for being kind to the body and supporting it with effective movement. Say hello to Ildiko Campbell.
Welcome back to part 2 of the STAGES' conversation with Entertainment Legend Barry Crocker. Possessed of a magnificent voice it wasn't long before he started to make his way professionally on Australian TV and stages - and enjoyed success in the American and UK markets. Barry describes many of his successes in this companion episode. It's time for some further nostalgia and continued insight to an industry now sadly passed. Regarded as one of the 'greats' of the Australian entertainment industry, Barry Crocker has fostered a respected and impressive career spanning several decades. Born in the suburbs of Geelong, Victoria, as a teenager he was enticed into joining a community Musical theatre company. He was quickly hooked and soon after found himself touring the State in a travelling variety show, providing him a salient apprenticeship in showbiz. In 1966 he starred in a TV musical comedy show called 66 And All That, followed by tremendous accolades with the eponymous The Barry Crocker Show on Channel 10 Sydney. This was followed by the musical variety show Say It With Music, also broadcast on Ten. Barry went on to become the presenter and leading performer on The Sound of Music TV series, taking over from entertainer Bobby Limb, which earned him a Gold Logie in 1970 as Australia's top (male) TV personality. His singing talents eventually earned him over 30 Gold records. He is known for his iconic Australian films during the 1970s The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and the sequel Barry McKenzie Holds His Own; and singing the theme tune to the Australian soap opera Neighbours. Barry has achieved what many aspiring entertainers have only dreamt of accomplishing. With a career encompassing an extensive recording history, countless television appearances in Australia, the UK and America, as well as numerous national and international concert performances, Barry's immense talents as an engaging singer, comic, impressionist and dramatic actor have continuously captivated and wowed audiences across the globe.
Regarded as one of the greats of the Australian entertainment industry, Barry Crocker has fostered a respected and impressive career spanning several decades. Born in the suburbs of Geelong, Victoria, as a teenager he was enticed into joining a community Musical theatre company. He was quickly hooked and soon after found himself touring the State in a travelling variety show, providing him a salient apprenticeship in showbiz. In 1966 he starred in a TV musical comedy show called 66 And All That, followed by tremendous accolades with the eponymous The Barry Crocker Show on Channel 10 Sydney. This was followed by the musical variety show Say It With Music, also broadcast on Ten. Barry went on to become the presenter and leading performer on The Sound of Music TV series, taking the reins from entertainer Bobby Limb. The show earned him a Gold Logie in 1970 as Australia's top (male) TV personality. His singing talents have earned him over 30 Gold records. He is known for his iconic Australian films during the 1970s; The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, and the sequel Barry McKenzie Holds His Own. His voice is immediately recognised singing the theme tune to the Australian soap opera Neighbours. Barry has achieved what many aspiring entertainers have only dreamt of accomplishing. With a career encompassing an extensive recording history, countless television appearances in Australia, the UK and America, as well as numerous national and international concert performances, Barry's immense talents as an engaging singer, comic, impressionist and dramatic actor have continuously captivated and wowed audiences across the globe.
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.