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.
Equipped with a soaring voice, matinee idol looks and bundles of charm; a career on the stage seems to have been destined for Alex Rathgeber. Growing up in rural Victoria, a series of roles in community theatre and school production lead him to study at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts and on to a succession of roles that have enthralled audiences. Deft character studies have engaged Rathgeber in productions of The Drowsy Chaperone, An Officer and a Gentleman, Fiddler on the Roof, The Rocky Horror Show and Next To Normal. His performance as Billy Crocker in Anything Goes earned him a Helpmann Award. He reflects on his journey thus far; the triumph and challenge including the unique task of working within The Tin Man for The Wizard of Oz. Along the way he has played Raoul in the 21st Anniversary cast of The Phantom of the Opera in The West End. Passionate, intelligent and insightful, he proved to be the perfect guest in this episode, reflecting on a young career that has achieved much that can never be taken for granted.
Robert Love is the Director of the City of Parramatta's Riverside Theatres; a role he relishes, overseeing one of the most highly attended venues in the country. In addition to his role in Administration, he might be changing a light-bulb or pitching in with any task essential in the efficient running of an Arts venue. The theatres host a variety of entertainments - drama, art-house cinema, multi-cultural storytelling, dance, stand-up comedy, cultural celebrations and, a resident company - the National Theatre of Parramatta. It is a venue that embraces the diversity of the community it services. Love founded his own theatre company - 'Toe Truck Theatre' in 1976, providing a valuable social and educational role to students in regional and urban schools. Subsequent roles travelled management positions with organisations such as the University of Sydney's Seymour Centre, the State Theatre Company of South Australia, the Sydney Theatre Company, Fox Studios and News limited; eventually taking up the baton at Riverside Theatres in 2000. He has been made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for 'significant service to the performing arts, particularly in Western Sydney, as an administrator, and as a supporter of Independent artists'. He joined Stages for a riveting conversation, pondering the importance of the Arts in nourishing a population, the dilemma of Arts funding, the future of theatre as an art form; and to reflect on a stellar career as a leader at various Arts organisations.
Jeffrey Jay Fowler is a playwright, dramaturg, director and actor. He wrote and acted in the award winning shows A History of Drinking and Elephants. He has performed in and co-created Fag/Stag, Bali, The Advisors; and with The Last Great Hunt Company presented All That Glitters and Le Nor (The Rain). His other plays include Minnie & Mona Play Dead, Price Tag, Improvement Club and Hope is the Saddest. He is a founding artist with The Last Great Hunt, a company 'determined to produce quality and relevant new work that is simultaneously artistically rigorous and engages audiences to be moved, inspired and challenged. Within this ethos, the artists have diverse range of aesthetics that results in the creation of an eclectic mix of work'. His post-graduate studies were in Directing at NIDA, soon returning to Perth to embrace the vivid arts scene and continue a collaborative conversation, telling necessary stories, stimulating audiences and making excellent theatre. He has been an Associate Director of Black Swan State Theatre Company in Perth, where he established the emerging writers program and continues the artistic conversation with The Last Great Hunt - the next generation of theatre-makers in WA.
The Australian Musical is a peculiar beast - a hybrid of vaudeville, music hall and the influential Broadway form. It traverses authentic and genuine storytelling whilst continually experimenting with style, structure and content; and always with the presence of a larrikin essence. The history of the Australian Musical is vast, from early offerings such as The Bunyip, Chu Chin Chow and Collits' Inn to contemporary product like Bran Nue Dae, Muriel's Wedding and Fangirls. The Australian Musical is a fascinating entertainment and has had a glorious history on local and International stages. It is an entertainment growing from modest beginnings to eventually finding output in The West End and on Broadway; all contributed to from a variety of practitioners exploring a great breadth of subject matter. Preserving and contributing to an Australian Musical Theatre product continues with the recent publication of The Australian Musical: From the Beginning. Co-author, Peter Wyllie Johnston, joins me to examine the rich legacy of Australian Musicals which is celebrated in this glorious new book.
Welcome to this companion episode celebrating the magnificent Nancye Hayes. In part 1 we learned of a determination through childhood to emulate the great stars of the MGM musicals who figured prominently in her early cinema attendance. And then onto a career developing her talents in a succession of J.C. Williamson musicals, before eventually landing the leading role of Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity; helping to cement the knowledge that Australian performers certainly had what it took to lead a company and tell stories in imported musicals. The accolades came thick and fast, leading Nancye to great acclaim and on to a career that has seen her conquer all genres and theatrical roles; on and off the stage. She has contributed dynamically to the industry in creative roles as Director, Choreographer and Mentor. Her vast repertoire of plays and musicals has given us dynamic performances in Sweeney Todd, Nine, Showboat, Pippin, The Importance of Being Earnest, Same Time Next Year, Steel Magnolias and Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. Nancye Hayes is one of our great elders and her vast warmth and contribution to the Arts in Australia have made her a much loved Teacher, Leader and Actor.
Nancye Hayes started her professional career as a dancer in My Fair Lady. She then progressed through roles in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Hello Dolly! and The Boys from Syracuse. She scored tremendous personal success as Charity Hope Valentine in her break-out performance in Sweet Charity, establishing herself as a bright new star. The accolades came thick and fast, leading Nancye to great acclaim and on to a career that has seen her conquer all genres and theatrical roles; on and off the stage. She has contributed dynamically to the industry in creative roles as Director, Choreographer, Mentor and Teacher. Her vast repertoire of leading and character roles has given us memorable performances as Miss Adelaide, Miss Hannigan, Madame Armfeldt, Mrs Higgins, Mrs Potts, Mrs Lovett, Aunt Eller and Lady Hotham. Nancye Hayes is synonymous with Australian show business and her presence in any show guarantees a consummate artist determined to engage us with her vast skill and extensive joy in performance.
Meeting in 1953 in J. C. Williamson's Call Me Madam, Jill and Kevan married in 1959. Their two children Todd and Trudy also followed a career in showbusiness. The family 'business' continues with grand-children beginning to make their mark in performance. Between musicals, Jill appeared in a number of Phillip Street Theatre revues, establishing herself as a versatile talent. Musicals continued to be her speciality where she would virtually steal the show, receiving unanimous acclaim from the critics and public alike. Her great break-out performance came in 1966 with Fanny Brice in Funny Girl; a role seemed tailor-made for Perryman's extensive talents. Through her career she has explored other genres, giving us memorable performances in the plays 'Night Mother and Brighton Beach Memoirs, an AFI winning performance in the film Maybe This Time and a moving turn as Kate in the mini-series Changi. Kevan continued to perform in musicals playing Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie and on to Pippin, Evita, Chicago and Annie and plays with Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and The One day of the Year. He extended his talents to choreography and put together a number of revues for the Phillip Street Theatre including A Cuppa Tea, A Bex and a Good Lie Down. Kevan spent 15 months as a choreographer and producer for TVW-7 in Perth and was the production co-ordinator for the first Australasian tour of Disney on Parade. He has been a guest artist with The West Australian Ballet Company and for many years was on the staff of the Musical Theatre course at WAAPA. It is a partnership that has inspired performers and audiences, on and off the stage, for several decades.
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.