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.
Australia's First Lady of musical comedy, Jill Perryman made her stage debut at the tender age of two when her parents were touring in White Horse Inn. Her first big break came whilst she was in the chorus of Call Me Madam when as understudy to Evie Hayes she was called upon to play the leading role. Jill went from success to success appearing in J.C.Williamson's South Pacific, Paint Your Wagon, The Pajama Game and Can Can. Further triumphs followed with legendary performances through a stellar career; No, No Nanette, Annie, A Little Night Music and The Boy From Oz. Kevan Johnston's hard work, early in life, studying all forms of dance under his mother Peggy Esler's tuition paid off, for when he auditioned for Call Me Madam, he landed the role of principal dancer. He impressed the directors because he was again made principal dancer for several other shows including Paint Your Wagon, Can Can and The Pajama Game, where he became one of Australia's first Fosse dancers alongside Tikki Taylor and Frank Sheldon, in the iconic Steam Heat number. Parallel careers as a choreographer and Television producer have also offered Kevan opportunities to contribute impressively to entertainment in Australia. The pair have managed careers which have offered them several opportunities to work together in productions. These have included Wallflowering, Carnival, The One Day of the Year, Annie and celebrated turns in the GFO national tour of Hello Dolly! - a theatrical gift which saw Jill in the role of Dolly Levi and Kevan leading the waiter's gallop as Rudy, in the famed Harmonia Gardens' sequence. Jill and Kevan are luminaries of the Australian stage; not only in musical theatre, but also with extensive credits in stage drama, television and film, across several decades. It was a super treat to catch up with them and I know you'll be delighted too, hearing them in conversation with recollections of a vast contribution to the Arts in Australia.
Kevin Coxhead celebrates the memory of dynamic J.C. Williamson's Showmaker, Betty Pounder, in a facebook group titled 'Sparkle Darlings!'. The phrase, was a famous expression favoured by 'Pounder' to prompt the best from her trusted stable of dancers and leading performers. Betty Pounder died in 1990 but has left a legacy that we continue to benefit from today. She was a unique practitioner - entrusted by 'The Firm' to travel abroad to view scheduled shows and then re-create them in Australia. She became expert in the styles of the great Broadway choreographers, Fosse, Champion, Kidd and Robbins. Her vast repertoire of shows includes The Pajama Game, Funny Girl and Sweet Charity. Her role extended to the maintenance of shows for their commercial seasons and whilst 'on the road'. She acted for 'The Firm' as a Casting Director and suggested to the producers that an all-Australian company for The Pajama Game would prove to be a winning gamble. It was - and altered the reliance for international performers to take roles in local production. The careers of stars like Lamond, Perryman and Hayes quickly followed. A mentor of many performers, she was pivotal in launching careers, defining an ownership of product by local talent and contributing to an excellence and discipline maintained by the country's finest. She also made a notable step in Australian ballet history with her creation of the ballet Jazz Spectrum for the 1965 season. Kevin worked with 'Pounder' in Williamson's production of Gypsy, featuring Gloria Dawn and then Toni Lamond in the role of Rose. The show impressed upon him a great passion for the theatre and an enormous respect for the woman conjuring such magic. He joins Stages to share insight and reflection on the legend that is Betty Pounder.
This is a very special conversation as it marks our 100th episode - that's right, we've hit the century and I couldn't be more thrilled. Helping me celebrate this milestone, as we celebrate her, is Miss Toni Lamond. The legendary Toni Lamond is synonymous with Australian Entertainment having made her mark across all genres; television, film, theatre, cabaret, recording, concert, publications and of course, musical theatre. Showbiz is in her DNA; all family members have contributed significantly to the arts in Australia; and internationally. Lamond was the inaugural guest on Stages in 2018, sharing with us a long life of triumph, challenge and dedication. She returns to mark this 100th episode and share some insights into an illustrious career as one of our first bona-fide stars. At 87 she is still as passionate about 'the business' as when she took her first steps on to a stage, appearing with her parents, Stella Lamond and Joe Lawman. She continues to be an avid supporter of young talent and will embrace any opportunity to share her vast talent and wisdom. It is always a great joy sitting down with Toni - she exudes vast optimism and palpable passion - traits that have been steadfast in a career that has navigated every kind of joy and frustration. She is simply, one of the best!
Kate Fitzpatrick is one of our great actors. She was born in Perth but grew up in Adelaide. It was in this city that she developed her passion for art and cricket and classical music. Her potential as a visual artist was recognised by Jeffrey Smart, who awarded her a travelling art scholarship to Japan. Her love of cricket lead her to an appointment as the world's first female Cricket commentator. And classical music has sustained her through a vast array of experiences in a career that has rewarded and challenged. At the age of 18 she was accepted into NIDA to study Acting. This instigated her move to Sydney and a career as one of our favourite actors. Her triumphant theatre roles include The Lady of Camellias, Hamlet on Ice, Rooted, Insignificance and Kennedy's Children. She was there at the beginning of a burgeoning Australian theatre working in seminal works at The Jane Street Theatre, The Old Tote Theatre and Nimrod. She created the role of Magenta in the original Australian production of The Rocky Horror Show and began her career alongside iconic Australian directors like John Bell, Rex Cramphorne and Jim Sharman. The great Patrick White spotted her in The Legend of King O'Malley and became an immediate fan which then began a friendship that lasted until his death. Kate played Nola Boyle in White's play The Season at Sarsaparilla. Subsequently he penned his next play Big Toys as a gift for her. She has been a regular face on our film and television screens. And an unmistakeable voice on radio. Kate has made an impression across all mediums. Kate joined me for long lunch and a candid conversation, detailing an extraordinary life in the theatre and some extraordinary experiences with some extraordinary people. She is a great raconteur and an immense wit, all delivered with wonderful detail and a voice as smooth as warm honey. Stages is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Hayden Tee is the boy from New Zealand who developed a career in Australia and then proceeded to conquer theatres around the world, with star turns in musicals as diverse as Les Miserables and Matilda. Curiously, he gave us seductive and thrilling villains in both - Inspector Javert and Miss Trunchbull. Though he would call them Antagonists. He recently returned to Auckland to share his acclaimed performance as Javert with his homeland. Hayden has carved out an impressive list of credits in musical theatre, theatre, cabaret and also make-up design - an accomplished make-up artist, you may have caught one of his many make-up tutorials online. He is a master of transformation and aesthetic seduction, employing theatrical and cosmetic make-up to contribute to illusion magnificently. Hayden's Australian theatre credits include magnetic performances in Only Heaven Knows, Titanic: The Musical, South Pacific, Little Women: The Musical, The Wizard of Oz and Dead Man Walking. His extensive International work has included Being Earnest, 1776, My Fair Lady, Into The Woods and Kiss Me Kate. His mastery of the form is vast and incisive. He has just released an exciting new recording. The album is called Hayden Tee: Face To Face. It features a full orchestra backing with Hayden delivering musical theatre favourites and also capturing a few of the dynamic performances he has given in a stellar career. Stages has wanted to record a conversation with Hayden since the podcast begun but alas geography was never on our side. It was a treat to finally be able to sit down with Mr Tee on a recent visit to Sydney as he prepared for a concert tour. Stages is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
If you've ever had the pleasure to meet Peter Keogh and Sacha Mahboub, you are immediately struck by the immense love they have for each other. They complete each other. Witty and caustic banter always ensues, finishing each other's sentences and stories, and all fuelled by an intrinsic adoration of showbiz and gossip. They recently tied the knot, having to wait until the marriage equality bill was finally passed. Both gentleman are in their 70's. While clearly infatuated by each other, the journey to the alter has also been travelled on paths of personal pain and trauma for both. The theatre has been a salvation and an oasis. Between the two of them they have covered practically every role they can in the theatre - box office, model, actor, dancer, dresser, host, wardrobe supervisor, author and producers. They have counted the greats amongst their friends and recall with great fondness the Hollywood royalty of Debbie Reynolds. The relationship began when the MGM star responded to a fan later sent by an enthusiastic young boy from Perth. The Movie Star eventually became an employee of the pair - and a treasured friend. It is a wonderful life and these two continue to navigate it with wicked humour, eternal resilience and tremendous love. Be warned - this conversation is peppered with much laughter, saucy humour and heavy lashings of gossip. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
At the age of 14, after seeing the musical South Pacific, Peter Pinne decided to be a composer. He enjoyed some success with radio competitions and, while working in his father's butcher shop, wrote for revues. He met his writing partner, Don Battye, at the Arts Theatre in Melbourne in the late 1950s and together they collaborated on a succession of musicals. The writing team of Pinne and Battye have contributed many and significant works to the Australian musical theatre canon. Their product includes A Bunch of Ratbags (1966), It Happened in Tanjablanca (1968) and Caroline (1971), as well as several children's musicals. Peter Pinne also wrote songs for television shows and theatre restaurants; and scripts for several television series. During the 1980's, he worked for the Reg Grundy Organisation and supervised the production of many television drama series, such as Neighbours, Sons and Daughters and Richmond Hill. Working for Pearson Television in the 90s he established television companies and offices in various South American countries. Together with Don Battye he set up the Bayview Recording Company, which records musical theatre performers and re-issues CDs aimed at the show music market. His work preserving and contributing to an Australian Musical Theatre product continues with the recent publication of The Australian Musical: From the Beginning. This glorious historical record and celebration is co-authored with Peter Wyllie Johnston. Peter Pinne joined Stages to reflect on an extensive career in entertainment, and the rich legacy of Australian Musicals that he celebrates in his glorious new book
In a boutique space, below His Majesty's Theatre in Perth is a vast collection of arts heritage. It celebrates and recalls the immense cultural past of live performance through Western Australia. The Museum of Performing Arts was founded in 2001 by Perth's living treasure, Mr Ivan King. The seed germinated in the 70's when 'The Maj' closed for refurbishment and Ivan commenced collecting materials. The collection would contribute to an essential story that would inform audiences and practitioners of today. An essential reminder of what had gone before. The Museum of Performing Arts houses more than 40,000 catalogued items of theatre memorabilia and includes costumes, photographs, scripts and scores - the ghostly 'footprints' of artists such as Gladys Moncrieff, Margot Fonteyn, Katherine Hepburn, Anna Pavlova and Dame Nellie Melba echo through the theatre where the museum is home. It takes a unique identity with a keen eye, a huge passion and a broad knowledge of the Arts to gather, curate and maintain such a collection. Ivan King is a most genial host and celebrant. He is a veteran of over 100 plays, musicals and theatre events as actor, writer and director. As the founder of the Museum of Performing Arts he has created to date, 54 exhibitions highlighting the history of entertainment in Perth. Ivan sat down with Stages in Dressing Room Number One at His Majesty's Theatre. The anecdotes flew thick and fast, always demonstrating an enormous passion for the theatre and the people who make it. Stages is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Liz Pascoe has been a singer, pianist and teacher for more years than she cares to remember. She practices immense dedication to her work and adopts enormous responsibility in delivering the best tuition possible. Liz originally trained as a secondary English and Music teacher, working for some years in secondary schools, where she honed her skills as a writer, vocal coach and musical director. Since 1990 she has been a part-time lecturer in singing in the Acting and Music theatre Departments at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. The students value the committed guidance from Liz. Her work has contributed to many of them enjoying extensive careers on the Australian and International stage. Liz's performing and creative experience includes opera, theatre restaurant performance, musicals, music direction and composing for youth theatre, accompanying and vocal coaching. She shares with Stages her great knowledge of the voice as an instrument and tool for communication and art. I have certainly benefitted from Liz's guidance and it was a joy catching up with an old friend. Stages is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Robin Pascoe has recently retired from his role guiding and nurturing young teachers in the discipline of Drama. He recognises that an immersion in arts subjects is a crucial experience to equip a child in a vast skills set that will contribute to their humanity for life. Robin has had an extensive career in arts education with the Education Department of Western Australia where he was the Superintendent for the Arts with responsibility for Arts in schools K-12, Consultant for Performing Arts K-12 and District Manager for Curriculum. Robin is a Past President of Drama Australia and has held positions on the Drama Australia Executive as well as DramaWest. In July 2013 he was elected President of IDEA - the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association. It is a huge and satisfying role that allows him to observe and guide Arts education across a range of cultures. In July 2020, the IDEA 10th World Congress for Drama/Theatre and Education will be conducted in Beijing, China. Robin is a much respected and celebrated member of the Drama Education community. He is never lacking in his support and mentorship of teachers and maintains constant investigation and research into the effectiveness of the arts in the curriculum. This is an essential conversation that will enlighten, affirm and celebrate the work of the Drama teacher. Robin invests his knowledge with passion, statistics and his engaging dry wit. I was delighted to examine the role of the arts in the curriculum with Robin in an absorbing episode of Stages. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
The Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company is Australia's leading Aboriginal theatre company, based in Perth, WA, in the heart of the Nyoongar Nation. Formed in 1993, Yirra Yaakin provides the means and environment to assist the nurturing of Aboriginal community cultural development. Yirra Yaakin means 'stand tall' in the Nyoongar language. At the commencement of 2019, Yamaji woman, Eva Grace Mullaley was appointed as Artistic Director. Eva Grace grew up predominantly in the South West of Western Australia and moved to Perth in 2002. She is a graduate of the Aboriginal Theatre course at WAAPA. She soon joined Yirra Yaakin as an actor performing in Whaloo is That You?, and with Black Swan in the production, Tear From a Glass Eye. In 2005 Eva Grace lectured the Aboriginal students at WAAPA on script writing and directed the collaborative piece Black Tracks. She assisted David Milroy during the Windmill Baby creative development for Yirra Yaakin and was Stage Manager during its first public season. She has keenly embraced the extensive roles existing in the theatre. Such work has included roles as a tour manager, producer, event manager, dramaturge, actor and served extensive time in administration - essential experiences that have informed her work as a director. Eva Grace looks forward "to continuing such an inspirational legacy and building on the shoulders of those that came before (her) to lead Yirra Yaakin to a new era." The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
John Taylor is a composer and lyricist with a life long career in musical theatre. He is the composer of the joyous Charlie Girl, a show that played 2,202 performances in London's West End and enjoyed a celebrated Australian production starring John Farnham, Anna Neagle, Geraldine Morrow and Derek Nimmo. The show was revived in London in 1986 starring Paul Nicholas, Dora Bryan and Cyd Charisse. Drawing from the Cinderella narrative, the class system and the inheritance tax, the musical was one of the most successful theatre shows of the sixties. Further musical compositions by John Taylor include Doddy's Here, Mr & Mrs and The Royalty Follies. For several years he worked for Richard Rodgers, as Musical Supervisor for London and touring productions of The King and I with Yul Brynner and Virginia McKenna, and revivals of The Sound of Music at The Apollo Theatre starring Petula Clark. John possesses an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Musical form and offers marvellous insights into the process of composition, and shares anecdotes from a thrilling career in the theatre. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Enda Markey was born in Dublin, Ireland. He trained on a scholarship to Laine Theatre Arts in London, studying musical theatre. Upon graduation he worked as a singer and actor in Ireland and the U.K. He appeared in the Irish premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Follies alongside Lorna Luft, Mary Millar, Dave Willetts and Millicent Martin. Subsequent work included the role of Rick in the cult musical A Slice of Saturday Night in London and Dublin. In 2002, Enda moved to Australia and worked extensively around the country in theatre, television, concerts and cabaret. His first foray into theatre producing arrived in 2011 with a celebrated production of Side By Side By Sondheim. 'Enda Markey Presents' was quickly formed and the company has proceeded to develop and present works on the local and international stages, working with some of the world's leading practitioners of musical theatre. Among the works he has presented are Do You Hear The People Sing? - a celebration of the work of Boublil and Schönberg, Defying Gravity - a concert honouring the extensive work of Stephen Schwartz, the musical Blood Brothers and cabaret and concert performances by stars of musical theatre - Ruthie Henshall, Geraldine Turner and Bobby Fox. Enda Markey joined Stages to discuss both vantage points; working on stage and behind-the-scenes, seemingly pulling together the impossible .... great entertainments featuring enormous talents on vast stages. And to share some exciting news regarding the projects he has heading our way in 2020. Stages is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Sound has been used to evoke emotion, reflect mood and underscore action in the arts since time began. The contribution of the Sound Designer in the theatre, provides a further dimension in which to elicit the world of the play. Nate Edmondson is an international, multi-award winning composer, sound designer and occasional musical director. His work crosses all mediums - film, television, radio, advertising and stage. Originally from Western Australia, Nate grew up amongst the remote red dirt and spinifex of the Pilbara region, before moving to Perth. There he trained as both a classical and jazz trombonist, in addition to fronting several local bands as a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter and arranger. Nate is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art, where he trained under the mentorship of some of Australia's finest musicians and sound designers. He has worked extensively in the theatre and live events industries; his detailed sound designs and music scores can be heard on stages around the world. In 2015, Nate's sound design work made international headlines when a social media campaign petitioning pop star, Taylor Swift, for the use of one of her hits for the Belvoir production of Seventeen, was successful, with Swift personally granting approval via Twitter, in an unprecedented move. He creates designs in intimate spaces and large auditoriums; all with enormous detail providing audiences with a powerful aural hypnosis that transports them directly to the world of the play. He is a passionate advocate for the artistry of sound design and how it extends our theatre experience. He is also incredibly fascinating and eloquent detailing how the youngest of all production disciplines evolved. Nate Edmondson's next sound design can be heard in Kate Gaul's production of HMS Pinafore, playing The Hayes Theatre from November 8th to December 14th. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Michael Loney has accumulated an extensive repertoire of roles having appeared in over 150 stage productions, ranging from the classics to contemporary Australian and international fare. It was at school that a teacher identified emerging talent and encouraged him to pursue acting. He grew up in Perth, and as a young man ventured to the UK to study at the Bristol Old Vic. WAAPA wasn't even a thought yet! Upon graduation, roles in Coronation Street and Howard's Way came Michael's way. He returned to Perth in 1988 and acted in a variety of shows at the Playhouse, Black Swan and the Hole in the Wall Theatre. These included Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Seagull, Heartbreak House, Noel and Gertie, Speaking in Tongues, The Club and The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? His film and television work has embraced WA production in the series' Ship to Shore, Minty, Cloudstreet and The Great Mint Swindle. He has relished the experiences of working with Perth Directors Edgar Metcalfe, John Milson and Ray Omedei. Passionate practitioners with individual and informed directing styles, who all contributed to a vital theatre scene in Perth. It is a treat to celebrate them in this episode through shared reminiscence. As an actor Michael is incredibly engaging and intelligent, on-stage and off. He is incredibly charming and eloquent; and in this episode he reflects on considerable experiences in the theatre and the immense contribution, that Perth based actors like himself, have made to the community. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.