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.
Born in the UK, Robina Beard wanted to be a ballerina and after migrating with her parents to Sydney in 1949, continued training in the Cecchetti method. She has contributed to many art forms and roles over an extensive career in Australia. Robina Beard has graced Australian stages and screens for several decades. She is familiar to generations of Australians as Madge the Manicurist in the iconic Palmolive commercials in which she uttered the familiar catch-phrase - "You're soaking in it." She has carved a fulfilling career as a performer, creative and teacher. She can now add author to the list with the recent publication of her autobiography, My Life: you're Soaking In It. Robina provides us with a first hand account of the Entertainment Industry in Australia from early jobs working as a television weather girl, a score of shows with J.C.Williamson's and at the Phillip Street theatre. She has filled the role of Resident Director and served appointments as a teacher with NAISDA and the Australian Ballet School. In this conversation we draw upon a lifetime of dance, musical theatre, drama, television and Arts education. At 83 she is vibrant, engaging and an endless source of laughter and fascination; having achieved many of her dreams but missing out on others. She describes opportunities and moments rife in a rich life and rewarding career.
The Canberra Times identified Bill Stephens as one of 75 people who had shaped the National Capitol. He is one of the region's best known theatrical personalities, and although his career was in Hospital Administration, it has been through his passionate involvement in the performing arts nationally, that he has made his most important contribution. He has carved a lengthy career as a Theatre Director with theatre companies in Griffith and Canberra. For 15 years he was Cabaret Producer and Artistic Director at the Queanbeyan School of Arts cafe. The School of Arts Café became the longest established cabaret venue in Australia, attracting a host of sterling talent and enthusiastic audiences. As a Theatre Critic and Writer he regularly contributes reviews to the Canberra Critics Circle blog, and reviews productions of musical theatre, cabaret and dance for City News, and Australian Arts Review. Bill has also contributed feature articles on theatre to 'Stage Whispers'. Bill has had extensive experience presenting radio programs of interviews, reviews, music and news. Since February, 2019, he has been producing and presenting weekly episodes of the arts program, In The Foyer for Artsound FM. Commencing in 1985, Bill has been an interviewer for the National Library of Australia's Oral History Program, specialising in the performing arts and preserving vital conversations with artists across all disciplines and roles. In 2017 he was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia - for services to the performing arts. Bill has spoken to everyone and now it's my treat to speak with Bill - and learn more about the passion and energy that has sustained him over several decades in a passionate pursuit of the performing arts and its practitioners.
Dean Carey began his professional career in Melbourne, acting in a series of television and stage productions. However it is the pedagogy of Acting that has consumed Dean for over 35 years, teaching the craft and associated performance skills. He has enormous passion and respect for the process of the actor and has subsequently become a stand for powerful and meaningful performance, nurturing actors to fully explore, grow and be their best. Dean has taught in the United Staes, the United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Russia, Singapore and New Zealand. He is the author of the much acclaimed , The Acting Edge, The Actor's Audition Manual and Masterclass. He has served appointments as Head of Acting at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts and at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, where he also taught on the staff for several years. Several generations of actors have benefitted from his guidance with Dean also completing teaching stints and/or direction at the Victorian College of the Arts, the Queensland University of Technology and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. In 1987 he created an Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts, (Acting) becoming the Founding and Creative Director of the Actor's Centre Australia. Yesterday, The Actor's Centre celebrated 33 years of operation! In this riveting chat we discuss the training of actors, Dean's penchant for science fiction stories and the birth and growth of ACA. Bravo Dean and Happy Birthday ACA!
Shaun Parker graduated with a science degree but it was dance that became his vocation. He is an award winning choreographer, dancer, actor and counter-tenor whose work has explored a vast range of performance platforms. He is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts and a former member of Meryl Tankard's Australian Dance Theatre. In 2010, he founded Shaun Parker & Company, becoming Artistic Director and a dynamic advocate for dance. The company creates critically acclaimed dance productions, which are renowned for their integration of stimulating choreographic forms, arresting musical scores and theatrical invention. Their work has graced national and global stages. Parker's choreographic works include KING, REMOTE, In The Zone, Am I, Happy As Larry and The Yard. He is fêted for his dynamic, youthful work that "is so cutting edge it actually wanders off the edge of any single-word definition". (The Daily Telegraph) Shaun Parker & Company has found various ways to continue working and maintain connections with both its dancers and its audiences during this time of physical distancing. Shaun is this week's guest on Stages. He elaborates on creating a dance experience online and the role he relishes; steering an innovative dance company with a passionate commitment to education and creating work that connects with audiences to deliver strong social impact.
Neil Gooding is an international theatre Director, Producer and Writer. He was the originating Chairman and one of the founding members of the Hayes Theatre Co in Sydney. He is the head of New Musicals Australia and in 2002 established his own company, Neil Gooding Productions (NGP). Directing highlights include the Australian premiere of Stalking The Bogeyman, the World Premiere concert version of Paris, the World Premiere of The Red Tree, Church And State, Passion, the World Premiere of The Hatpin, Truth Beauty And A Picture Of You and High Fidelity; the national tour of Thank You for Being A Friend; as well as Side by Side by Sondheim and Diciasette. As a Producer, Neil's work internationally includes: Back to the Future the Musical at the Manchester Opera House; the New York production of Handle with Care starring Carol Lawrence; The 39 Steps (Union Square Theatre in New York); Alan Cumming's one-man version of Macbeth; Church And State (New World Stages, NYC) and participation in the Broadway productions of It's Only A Play; The Empire Strips Back and The Ferryman. In London's West End, Neil was a producer of the hit Australian play, Holding the Man. Neil is also the author of the musical Back to the 80's which is now produced hundreds of times around the world every year, as well as the newly released Popstars. Next week he directs the Australian premiere of Who's Your Baghdaddy? (Or How I Started The Iraq War). Due to the present Covid-19 restrictions, this stage musical has been reimagined to be performed online. It's a daring new way to reach an audience but necessity is often the mother of invention. Neil Gooding joined us from New York to discuss the show and a trajectory in the theatre that is reaping great rewards. www.baghdaddymusical.com.au
Belinda Giblin recently celebrated 50 years as an actor. Growing up in Tamworth, the daughter of parents who were prolific practitioners in community theatre, early exposure to the arts guaranteed her chosen vocation. Extensive ballet study through her childhood resulted in an offer of scholarship to the Australian Ballet School, but it was a life upon the stage, in another artistic expression that won. She has navigated a career that has allowed her a broad repertoire of performances. With the iconic Crawford Production house, she found roles in the television police dramas Division Four, Homicide and Matlock Police. She has also perfected the art of the soap opera in programs like The Box, The Sullivans and Sons & Daughters; where she gave us the villainous Alison Carr. Giblin continues dips into the genre with her present residency in Home & Away's Summer Bay as Martha Stewart. Her range can also be seen in stage performances that have covered Comedic Farce, American Drama and the Classics. Giblin defines the last decade as probably the most exciting she has experienced as an actor with acclaimed turns in Blonde Poison, Doubt, The Turquoise Elephant, Family Values and John. Belinda Giblin is this week's guest on Stages, reflecting on an craft that is always surprising, sometimes disappointing, frequently erratic but never dull.
In a relatively young life, Harry Cook has demonstrated a dynamic and charismatic persona, achieving much. He has chartered a successful career as an actor, garnering impressive accolades in a number of feature films. He made his screen debut at 17, playing opposite Hollywood Star, Geena Davis, in the coming-of-age tale; Accidents Happen. Harry is also a passionate activist for LGBTIQ+ rights and visibility. He chronicled his own traumatic coming-out story in the engaging memoir, Pink Ink. The book won acclaim for its honesty and warmth. Further gigs have seen Harry acting alongside Sam Neill and Bryan Brown in ABC TV's Old School and in the cult thriller Caught Inside with Peter Phelps and Ben Oxenbould. Most recently he won the Best Supporting Actor award at the prestigious Film Out, San Diego for his role in the feature film Drown. Ever present on social media, he continues to chart a full and fulfilling life. Harry communicates his staunch support of many issues, his great love of family and his affectionate obsession with a bulldog named Poppy. Next month Harry's new book, Finn, Rye and Fireflies is released. The young-adult fiction book tackles aversion therapy and continues his goal to increase the visibility of LGBTIQ+ characters across all platforms. Harry is a passionate story-teller and is candid about his personal and professional journeys. He provides terrific reflection in this episode of Stages.
Benjamin Northey is the Chief Conductor of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Principal Conductor in Residence of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has previously held the posts of Associate Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Resident Guest Conductor of the Australian Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. Born and raised in Ballarat, he embraced music as an expression from an early age. Flute, clarinet and saxophone were instruments of choice. An appetite and enthusiasm for further exploration saw him develop skills in arranging; and pursue piano, trumpet and violin to add to his developing skills set. Northey graduated with performance studies in classical saxophone from the University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. He followed this promptly with a Master of Music study in Conducting, from the Victorian College of the Arts, and continued study abroad. With a progressive and diverse approach to repertoire he has collaborated with a broad range of artists and he is adept at a terrific range of musical styles. And Benjamin Northey likes nothing more than to lead an audience through a sensory experience of music. He does it with passion, pride and perfection. Benjamin Northey joined me in a passionate discussion that considers the musician's process; and ponders the present performance pause and absence of an audience.
Perth seems 'a million miles away' from New York City, but it frames the journey of Carmel Dean; a musical practitioner of intellectual and creative power. She has been applauded extensively in a variety of roles that include Composer, Musical Director, Arranger and Pianist. Early training in classical piano and study at The West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, confirmed an ambition harboured by Carmel. She wanted to create, write and perform music, chiefly in the genre of musical theatre. In 2001 she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States and subsequently graduated from NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing program. A dynamic approach to her work and an easy charm saw her triumph in a succession of creative tasks; transcribing, teaching and accompaniment, building collaborative relationships and demonstrating solid instincts. These experiences soon lead to roles in Musical Direction. As Musical Director, she has guided the Broadway productions of If/Then, Hands on a Hardbody, American Idiot and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Off-Broadway credits include Everyday Rapture, Vanities and Elegies - A Song Cycle by William Finn. As Composer, Carmel's first musical, Renascence, was produced Off-Broadway and was named Best New Musical at the 2018 Off-Broadway Alliance Awards. A song-cycle titled Well Behaved Women had its premiere performance in New York at Joe's Pub in January, 2020. Carmel Dean is a remarkable musician and an inspiring woman. She is incredibly eloquent. We connected with Carmel remotely, to traverse her extraordinary career thus far, and obtain a fascinating insight into the construction of a Musical narrative.
Barry Creyton continues to provide fascinating insight and reflection of an extensive career, in this companion episode of the Stages podcast. He examines the craft of writing in regard to the many forms in which he has written - fiction, comedy and farce, film, theatre, revue and radio drama. A period working in London allowed him opportunities as a broadcaster with the BBC World Service and theatre gigs that included productions of David Williamson's Don's Party at The Royal Court and a national tour of Ronald Millar's Abelard and Heloise; a play that restored his confidence as an actor. Recent activity has seem him work with LA Theatreworks and Blackstone Audio adapting and sometimes performing, in a series of audio productions of classic texts. He continues to write and develop screenplays and remains a picture of health (there's a picture in an attic somewhere) through a committed discipline of gym. Creyton serves the roles of actor, director, and writer with tremendous ease, extensive knowledge and immense charm. To be in his company is a joy to be treasured. He is generous, warm, witty and ready with a mountain of anecdotes that delight, inform and endlessly entertain.
Barry Creyton could quite easily be labelled a 'Renaissance man'. He is indeed a consummate man of the theatre - accomplished in many roles. He is also a pioneer of revue and satirical comedy in Australia as one of the writer/performers of the iconic television series; The Mavis Bramston Show. His career has taken him around the world, working in a variety of guises in Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. He has written screenplays, novels and countless theatre fare; revues, plays and adaptations. Following a motorcycle accident he spent time recovering in hospital and writing a play that would prove to be a triumph with an extensive tour that paired Creyton with his great friend and comic contemporary Noeline Brown. The play, Double Act is still performed today and has been given productions in a host of international cities. Creyton and Brown were among the first to release comic records in Australia. The Front and Back (Flip) Side of Barry Creyton and Noeline Brown and The Not So Wet and Dry Side of Barry Creyton and Noeline Brown, demonstrated a seductive sophistication and stark observation of the culture; and relationships between the sexes. In Australia he is also recognised as the urbane panellist from the subversive gameshow Blankety Blanks, the genius stage director of the musical comedy Nunsense or the hysterical farceur in the riotous Noises Off. A vast repertoire of villains, sophisticates and clowns contributes to audiences' adoration of Creyton in stage and screen roles. Creyton serves the roles of Actor, Director, and Writer with tremendous ease, extensive knowledge and immense charm. To be in his company is a joy to be treasured. He is generous, warm, witty and ready with a mountain of anecdotes that delight, inform and endlessly entertain.
In a career that has never disappointed and regularly surprised, Di Rolle has experienced it all. She has been mistaken for Mrs Michael Jackson and she has worked in the golden years of television variety with the Steve Vizard, and Don Lane, Tonight shows. She's mixed with rock stars, movie stars and royalty. Her contact book could be used as a platform to reach the top shelf - she knows everybody! Commencing her career in nursing, she soon moved to roles in the media, working in many facets of television and radio; ultimately crafting a dynamic and hugely successful career in promotion and publicity; specialising in entertainment. Stints with Roadshow Film Distributors, the Nine Network and the Paul Dainty Corporation provided her with terrific skills in diplomacy and connection, ultimately leading to the establishment of her own consultancy firm, Di Rolle Publicity. Di has handled tours and media relations for a vast parade of personnel that include, Willie Nelson, Ruby Wax, Elton John, Jerry Seinfeld, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and Tara Moss. Also music festivals, orchestras and dance companies. She is diplomatic, delightful and reliable in delivering the best communication between client and audience. She keenly defines the role of the Publicist. It was a treat to catch up with Di and discuss her extensive career and to seek a few fascinating anecdotes.
Lisa McCune first performed on stage at the age of 15 playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. She is synonymous with the character of 'Maggie Doyle' in the popular television drama , Blue Heelers. The role rewarded her with a swag of awards, including four Gold Logies as the most popular personality on Australian TV. McCune is not an actor to be defined by one role however, and has continued to amass a vast repertoire of performances on television and in plays and musical theatre. She trained at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, demonstrating a resilience and ambition, as one of the youngest students to be accepted into the course. Her immense charm and engaging persona have made her the perfect casting in a succession of Rodgers and Hammerstein roles, where she has delighted audiences as Maria in The Sound of Music, Nellie Forebush in South Pacific and Anna Leonowens in The King and I. Her range is vast and she has given a terrific assortment of performances; Nunsense, Guys & Dolls, The Potato Factory, Sea Patrol, 33 Variations, Little Fish, Cabaret, Urinetown and How To Stay Married to list but a few. Adept at musical theatre, comedy and drama she is immediately likeable and accomplished in her navigation of character and story. Lisa was giving her 'Gertrude' in Hamlet with The Bell Shakespeare Company when the pandemic forced the closure of many theatres; effectively forcing the valuable work of the Arts sector to an abrupt stop. It was indeed a pleasure to converse with Lisa (from afar) and contemplate her career, craft and COVID-19.
Born in London and spending formative years in Kenya, Diana Simmonds has had a life-long love affair with words. Words spoken and on the page, as a writer, playwright, editor and critic. She has been cited as the most reliable and discerning theatre critic in Sydney. Her online blog stagenoise.com has amassed a large and loyal following of readers; punters and practitioners. She is immensely knowledgable and entertaining with her observations and appreciation of many art forms. Hers is an essential voice in Sydney's cultural life. In London she wrote for various publications including Time Out and City Limits. Upon arrival in Sydney in 1985, she wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Bulletin, The Australian and The Sunday Telegraph, where she was the arts editor. Her nurturing of a thriving theatre scene lead her to be a founding critic and adjudicator of the Sydney Theatre Awards; an annual celebration that has earned respect and legitimacy. She has published a number of novels and non-fiction books, including one on Princess Diana and another on Doris Day. She's also had two stage shows produced. Diana Simmonds joined Stages to reflect on the responsibility of the reviewer, the power of the arts and the essential need for us to tell and consume stories.
You may have caught Mark Humphries as the imposing presence delivering satire on the 7:30 Report. He serves it with boundless charm and an engaging twinkle of the eye. You might also have found him as the amiable and accomplished host on the local version of the UK quiz success, Pointless. The television platform seems the likely home for Humphries who grew up with an appetite for television variety and who is the son of a former ABC weatherman. Early forays into a television studio ignited an ambition to entertain and amuse. Humphries also hosts a passion for musical theatre. He was recently triumphant in the series of Celebrity Mastermind where his special subject, was The Musicals of Stephen Sondheim. His charm and personality are reminiscent of the television Gods of yesteryear, but with an essential contemporary edge. He is equipped with a smile as broad as a bridge, a mischievous glint that hints at naughty and a masterful way with words - indelible assets for satirical comedy and television variety. He spoke with Stages examining the challenge of writing and delivering comedy in present times, quiz shows and of course, the magic of the musical.