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.
Growing up in Sydney, Sam Levy is a Theatre Producer who now resides in New York City. He has produced works on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in the West End. Prior to founding his own company, Trumper Park, Sam was a member of the executive team at ATM Productions, a company that produces theatre in New York and London, and which has received over 80 Tony and 35 Olivier nominations since 1998. Recent productions include Dear Evan Hansen, Les Liaisons Dangerous, An Act of God, The Elephant Man and I'll Eat You Last starring Bette Midler. Until 2009, Sam was Director of Programming at the New York Summer Play Festival, an acclaimed incubator of new plays and musicals at the award-winning Public Theatre in New York City. With an exceptional track record of identifying emerging talent, the Festival's writers and artists have gone on to receive numerous accolades, including awards and nominations for the Oscar, Tony, Olivier, Emmy and Golden Globe, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Sam recently co-produced The Ferryman by Jez Butterworth; a play which was awarded Best New Play at the 2019 Tony Awards. He is part of the producing team bringing the new musical juggernaut, SIX, to Australia in 2020. And he has recently opened the musical Come From Away in Melbourne. It was during a recent visit to the show that we were able to sit down and discuss our favourite topic - The Theatre, and the Business that it is.
Roger Lemke is one of Australia's most successful operatic and concert artists with a career spanning over 30 years performing in Opera, Music Theatre, Film and Concert. His career began in Musical Theatre, leading to the chance encounter with a singing teacher who suggested he might have a voice for Opera. He is the recipient of a number of prestigious vocal competitions and scholarships including both Melbourne and Sydney Sun Arias in the same year, and the Metropolitan Opera award. He also won the Bel Canto Foundation Chicago Scholarship studying with internationally acclaimed singer Carlo Bergonzi in Italy. He has appeared with all the major Australian and New Zealand companies, in a diverse range of principal roles including Papageno in The Magic Flute, Taddeo in The Italian Girl in Algiers, Giuseppe in The Gondoliers, Count Boni in The Gypsy Princess, two seasons as Marcello in the highly acclaimed Baz Luhrmann production of La Boheme and The Engineer in the world premiere of The Eighth Wonder by Alan John. Return visits to the Musical Theatre have provide him opportunities to play Inspector Javert in Les Miserables and Old Deuteronomy in Cats. His extensive knowledge of the industry and repertoire provides the solid platform from which he now mentors, manages and coaches today's young artists embarking on their own careers in vocal performance. See more at www.rogerlemke.com.au STAGES available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Carla Donnelly is the creator and co-host of podcasts Across the Aisle, Club Soderbergh and re:Discovery. She is a judge for the Green Room Awards on the Independent Theatre panel and has written about theatre for Milkbar Magazine and Theatre Alive/Broadsheet. After several years of navigating 'beat style' theatre review for online mediums, she became frustrated with the 24-hour review cycle as it didn't allow time to adequately consider the performances. Across the Aisle was born from a desire for performing arts long-form criticism, with the podcast providing the perfect platform. Donnelly is a queer history buff and was a volunteer and committee member at the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives for many years. During this time she produced and directed two events for ALGA in conjunction with Melbourne Queer Film Festival. She has been the recipient of awards for the Best Arts & Entertainment program (2018) and Best Audiogram (2019) at the Australian Podcast Awards. It was at this year's ceremony that Stages met Across the Aisle, so it only made sense that Peter and Carla should meet up and chat all things podcasting, in this very enlightening episode of Stages. Learn more at www.carladonnelly.com STAGES available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
For 26 years Tony Delroy was at the helm of a nightly, nationally broadcast, late show called Nightlife on ABC radio. He fronted the show with barely a sick day offering his listeners an informative entertainment, into the early hours of the morning. Delroy's enormous breadth of interest and knowledge helped to garner his success, along with a passionate understanding of his audience. Nightlife featured a team of experts every week - motoring, literature, movies, American politics, finance, superannuation and travel. He presented engaging variety that supported the delivery of current affairs and the news. Delroy's career began while he was studying for his HSC. He secured a job in the newsroom at 2SM, moving to the newsroom at ABC whilst waiting for university to commence and the study of journalism. Roles as a News Director eventually arrived and so began the deprivation of a sleep-in with early rises a requirement of his job. His positions in radio have appeared to require a Night Owl existence. He has now stepped down from this prominent position and has embraced retirement - for now. STAGES available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
In this companion episode we continue our conversation with Australian Theatrical Icon, Reg Livermore. In part one he discussed growing up in a conservative 1950's Sydney, his training, his influences and his many forays into Musical Theatre. In part two he reflects on his long career and examines his series of ground-breaking one-man shows, beginning with Betty Blokk Buster and continuing through Wonder Woman and Sacred Cow. Livermore is a theatrical beast, a mischief, a maverick and a larrikin clown - he is a chameleon who has rightly earned the accolade of Legend. He is a composite super-talent informed by burlesque, vaudeville, music hall, weimar cabaret, the ballet, the opera, the classics and Gilbert & Sullivan - all forms have contributed to a most unique and vital talent. It's a career of peaks and troughs, thrills and spills. The performer has not only seized opportunities but created them. Our rich theatre heritage is just that because of his countless contributions, on stage and off. He has offered us a chance to laugh at ourselves, embrace the outrageous and be changed by a reverberant and authentic repertoire of dynamic performances. Available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Reg Livermore is one of our greatest showmen. A trailblazer whose career has encompassed roles as Playwright, Performer, Presenter and one of the country's finest actors. His artistry is iconic and his pioneer performances in a succession of one-man masterpieces birthed brilliant characters such as Betty Blokk Buster, Vaseline Amilnitrate, Irene, Beryl and Leonard. Such personas perfectly entwined risqué and social sensibilities; and cheekily unsettled, and aroused, an awakening Australian audience. Reg Livermore is a theatrical beast, a mischief, a maverick and a larrikin clown - he is a chameleon who has rightly earned the accolade of Legend. He is a composite super-talent informed by burlesque, vaudeville, music hall, weimar cabaret, the ballet, the opera, the classics and Gilbert & Sullivan - all forms have contributed to a most unique and vital talent. Reviewing the seductive and thrilling content of his 1979 production of Sacred Cow, playwright Dorothy Hewett described Livermore as "everyone's nightmare and everyone's dream". Reviews don't come more thrilling than that. He grew up in conservative 1950s Sydney when boys who danced or acted were 'not like other boys'. His individuality would stand him apart on many stages and celebrate him as one of our best. Livermore revolutionised the Australian theatre industry in a pair of high-heels in the original Rocky Horror Show production; he developed a small cameo in Jesus Christ Superstar, into a 9-minute showstopping star-turn and found profound empathy in the seminal musical Hair. In recent turns on the Musical stage he has given us his P. T. Barnum, The Wizard of Oz, Max Biallystock, Dr Pangloss, Henry Higgins and Alfred P. Doolittle. Livermore has lived a full and fascinating life, bigger than any stage. He's had a restaurant. He's graced our television screens and he's studied at the Ensemble Studios with Hayes Gordon and at the Independent Theatre with Doris Fitton. It's a career of peaks and troughs, thrills and spills. The performer has not only seized opportunities but created them. Our rich theatre heritage is just that, because of his countless contributions on stage and off. He has offered us a chance to laugh at ourselves, embrace the mischievous and be changed by reverberant and authentic performances. Available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Andrew Ross studied Acting at NIDA in 1984. He returned as Head of Music in 2010. Prior to his appointment, Andrew worked as a musical director, singing coach, pianist, actor and writer. He has performed and musically directed productions for most of Australia's state theatre companies and commercial producers; on productions including Miss Saigon, The Venetian Twins, Mary Bryant, The End of the Rainbow, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Master Class and The Wharf Revue. Baz Luhrmann entrusted Andrew with the coaching of the singing on his film Moulin Rouge, a position that has led to frequent collaborations with Nicole Kidman. He has accompanied many artists in Australia and New York including Caroline O'Connor, Geraldine Turner, Hugh Jackman, Judi Connelli, Simon Burke and Toni Lamond. Andrew has had a long association with Barry Humphries, in roles that have included Musical Director and accompanist for the Australian shows Look at Me When I'm Talking to You, Remember You're Out, Back With a Vengeance and Back to My Roots as well as for the Broadway season of Dame Edna: The Royal Tour, which won a Tony award. This year he joins Barry Humphries once again to collaborate on a new outing for the 'Housewife Superstar' - Dame Edna: My Gorgeous Life! After a brief retirement, Edna is returning to the stage to celebrate all that is Australian and to offer her unique and 'caring' insight. Andrew Ross will be supporting the Dame as co-Author, Accompanist, Musical Director and Director. In this episode of Stages, Andrew offers great insight into a varied and eventful career in the arts. He is truly one of the Industry's nice guys! https://www.tegdainty.com/tour/dame-edna-my-gorgeous-life/
Every Sunday night, for the past 15 years, a weekly Drag celebration has been presented at Sydney's Stonewall Hotel on iconic Oxford Street. Polly's Follies is a Sydney institution having commenced life at the famous Albury Hotel some 28 years ago. Presiding over this has been the doyen of Sydney Drag, Polly Petrie; a tough broad with humour as dry as the Sahara, the glamour of Zsa Zsa Gabor and the steely command of Joan Crawford. Polly Petrie is also Drag Mother to a host of novice drag queens taking their first steps into this colourful world of performance. Polly takes a maternal approach to the rookies; mentoring, guiding and passing on her infinite wisdom. Polly is the creation of Craig Petrie, a ballroom dancer who was initially discovered working behind a bar, by choreographer Ross Coleman. He was thrust into the role of back-up dancer to many celebrated drag queens of the past, who lead the shows at famed Capriccios - a prominent venue on Oxford street with extravagant shows of big casts and glamorous costumes. In a fascinating conversation Polly gives us an insight into the early scene as a performer; one that continues to engage him in the persona of which he is famous around the world. He explains the origin of the follies and the link with the musical The Boyfriend, that gave him his drag name. It is a life rich with fabulous experiences and encounters. We recorded this conversation in his famous 'caravan', a place that accommodates his extensive wardrobe. What a treat to sit down with Miss Polly Petrie.
Amy Maiden seems to have done it all. Entering the entertainment industry as an Actor, she has also embraced the roles of Producer, Podcaster, Publicist, General Manager, Advocate, Cruise Director and Front Singer of The Mabels. As a passionate proponent of the Arts from the age dot, it would seem that Maiden was always going to be a Woman of the Theatre - her challenge would be 'which hat fits best?' Upon graduation from the Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts she worked extensively for the Disney organisation. Add Mouseketeer to the list! Time in London followed and new opportunities in the marketing of musicals. Impressive organisational skills and an enthusiasm to accept any challenge presented, saw her lead a passionate response to the 2009 Victorian bushfires - collaborating with a team of committed Aussies to present a hugely successful concert, staged at The Palace Theatre in the West End. The attention and excellence garnered by the concert, resulted in a visit to The Palace. Administration engagements at home have seen her in leadership roles at the Australian Theatre for Young People and The Sydney Festival, demonstrating further enterprise and accolade. A new chapter is soon to launch with a move to Melbourne and a return to global marketing agency AKA. A theatre foyer would be incomplete without the presence of Amy Maiden. She is a champion of anyone wanting to create stories for the stage. She's traversed many exciting stages and she's ready to make many more stories.
Mark Morrissey is one of the elders of the Agent profession in Australia. Now in his 34th year, Morrissey Management represents and guides the careers of many of our finest actors on local and world stages. Morrissey began his career as an actor in television shows like Rafferty's Rules, Sons and Daughters and Prisoner; a perfect vantage point to garner essential experience by observing work behind the camera. The knowledge acquired would inform his ambition and understanding, ultimately propelling him into a position as one of the country's best. As this week's guest, he reflects on how the role of the Agent has changed over past decades and how it prepares for a changing media landscape moving forward. He has a breadth of experience, he is generous with his support of talent and ever keen to create new and exciting work. In creating work, Morrissey has also served as Executive Producer on a number of ventures including the documentaries Molly: The Real Thing and The Road to Freedom Peak, the television mini-series Molly, and the programs Sarah's Channel and Boys in the Trees. A meeting with Mark is met with charm, calm and a keen desire to contribute to an ever evolving industry. Available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Community Theatre experience, performing in plays and musicals, offers an opportunity to develop skills and socialise. It can also provide a safe and nurturing haven to explore burgeoning talents and connect with a broad audience. In this episode we examine the role of community theatre with three performers who have cultivated quite an impressive repertoire of roles, in the work they have done whilst serving their local communities, via their musical societies. Wendy Holgate, Laurel Johnson and Liz Kolisnyk have accumulated 110 years experience between them in their participation with community theatre groups - serving as performers, directors, producers and committee members. Roles that their families continue to do, as generational involvement takes up the baton. These women are old friends and have much to say. They provide another fascinating insight into practitioners who traverse the many stages, of Stages. Available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
STAGES most popular guest in our first season was Geraldine Turner. She delivered fascinating anecdotes and observations from a stellar career in show business, that continues to reward and frustrate. There have been more than a few requests to get her back on STAGES for further reflections and wisdom. The first section of this interview was recorded earlier in the year when Geraldine was about to set forth on delivering a role that had escaped her on four previous occasions. We all hoped that Turner had finally been given the chance to deliver a role, tailor made for her extensive talents, life-experience and accomplished skill in the musical theatre ..... the role of Mama Rose, in the musical Gypsy. Prior to commencing rehearsals, Turner talked to STAGES about preparing such a role, the opportunities to play Rose that had escaped her previously, and the palpable excitement she experienced in the recognition of realising Rose was only months away. Frustratingly, that was not to be. And the cold, hard understanding that Gypsy had escaped her once again, was met with outrage and disappointment by eager fans waiting in anticipation. Turner was just stunned. So what must that feel like? How does a performer maintain belief in their ability within a precarious industry? How can a performer and a role avoid merger five times? What happened? The epilogue to this conversation provides a fascinating insight to a unique experience. However, throughout the episode we also get to discuss some of the great Musical Theatre composers that Geraldine has met and worked with - Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Alan J. Lerner and Lionel Bart - to name but a few. Hers is a rich, illustrious and vital career. So, on with the show - and it seems only right to say ..... Here she is boys, here she is world. Here's Geraldine!
Community Theatre provides an opportunity for the amateur practitioner to practice and develop their creative skills in a variety of roles - these include direction, design, front-of-house, marketing and of course, performance. The term amateur defines one who participates in a pursuit without payment but is driven by passion. Community theatre is a platform for passion - it provides for participants, who have a desire to make the arts their profession, their first precious steps into the precarious and wonderful world of the theatre. A great deal of fun is had along the way as participants collaborate with other like-minds in a setting that provides a cherished social interaction and develops valuable skills; whilst also providing audiences, in suburban and regional areas, with perhaps their only access to live performance. Carla Moore is a drama educator and playwright. For the past 17 years she has served as President of the Chester Street Theatre in Epping, Sydney. The company works out of a church hall and programs 3 productions a year. All are eagerly attended by an enthusiastic local and loyal audience. A subscription package is offered but they do not receive any other funding. Companies like Chester Street theatre rely on their box office to function. Carla joined STAGES to discuss the vital necessity of such companies and the essential role they play.
Peter Casey is one of Australia's most versatile Musical Directors, having established a career spanning the genres of musical theatre, arena presentations, symphonic concerts, orchestration, television and recording. Over several decades he has been at the helm for many commercial musical theatre productions; guiding, nurturing and supporting talent as they navigate the storytelling required by this demanding genre. Mr Casey has been Musical Director on a vast array of shows that have covered different styles and the work of many composers. These include Les Miserables, The Sound of Music, The king and I, Evita, The Producers, Chicago, Smokey Joe's Cafe, The Wizard of Oz, Company, Song and Dance, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, Anything Goes and Annie. He has been an Orchestrator and Arranger for many Australian artists including Anthony Warlow, Debra Byrne, Olivia Newton-John, David Hobson and John Farnham. Peter Casey has worked extensively in South East Asia, co-composing and orchestrating several musical productions, operas and recordings in Singapore and Korea. He was co-composer and Orchestrator for the Korean musical opera The Last Empress, which toured to London, Los Angeles and New York, and the Orchestrator and Conductor for the Korean film, Typhoon. He has been Guest Conductor and Orchestrator for the West Australian Symphony, Adelaide Symphony and Queensland Symphony Orchestras. In 2018 Peter Casey was named on the Queen's Birthday Honours List as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of 40 years of service to the Musical Theatre industry. Stages conversations available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Stand-up comedy is an art form requiring tremendous courage, quick wit and unique charm. Speaking directly to a live audience, the performance can deliver the comic terrific euphoria, or bewildering frustration, as the humour lands perfectly or somehow misses the mark. It is acknowledged as the freest form of comedy writing and regarded as an extension of the person performing, who often draws upon their own lived experience. Doug Chappel is a Melbourne based comedian who draws on such experience, citing that he performs 'routines' rather than 'jokes'. His is a career that has provided many triumphs, much travel and a very occasional silence. He takes this all in his stride and as potential fodder for future material. Chappel has been a professional comedian for over 10 years and delivers his work with engaging energy, a flexible face, amusing observation and buckets of charm. He has toured internationally, been the headline act in every major comedy club in Australia, while also headlining Comedy Clubs all over the UK, Ireland and Scotland. He has performed in the exclusive Jongleurs Comedy Club London and The World Famous London Comedy Store. Doug has also performed in over 15 Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows, alongside some of the country's biggest names & he is a popular choice amongst some of Australia's biggest Football Clubs, Sportsmen Nights, Charity Events and Corporate Functions. He has performed for our troops in Afghanistan, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, played cruise ships, worked with indigenous communities and schools and toured with some big personalities. All contributing to a rich palette of experiences and shaping his comic sensibilities. Chappel is currently in training for a Boxing bout on August 2nd when he takes a different sort of centre-stage. Pretender to Contender gives every-day people the opportunity to take centre stage and test themselves under the bright lights of Victoria's premiere boxing venue, the Melbourne Pavilion. Doug joined Stages to to discuss the joys and bruises of the comedy stage and in the ring. Available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.