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.
Commercial and amateur theatre producers who wish to procure the rights to present a musical or play must first apply to the representative of the owners. Whether you're Cameron Mackintosh or the Bullarook Light Opera Company, a licence to perform must be obtained. Intellectual property is then protected and the necessary parties receive their rightful compensation. If you have ever secured a performing licence for a musical or play, chances are you've heard the name Nanette Frew. For almost 20 years Nanette was the Licensing Agent for the organisation Warner Chappell. She protected the many shows they represented and negotiated with many schools, community theatre groups and commercial producers, to ensure that every show licensed was presented as contracted. The properties in her care were extensive; indeed she oversaw the explosive success of Les Miserables on the professional stage and when it was released to non-professional artists. Prior to this she commenced her working life as a copywriter in the world of radio advertising in country Victoria. She has also navigated a significant role contributing to community theatre as a director and actor, working regularly with the Genesian Theatre Company and Pymble Players. Nanette is a delight and shares some fascinating stories of behind-the-scenes, and the tremendous care required in the execution of her role managing many of the shows we have all seen on professional and amateur stages. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa
In a career spanning several decades, David Mitchell has firmly established himself as Mr Entertainment. His broad range of skills has seen him contribute to the industry as a writer, director and producer across all platforms -stage, radio, television, film and live performance. As a writer, he has provided material for performers and personalities including Barbra Streisand, Bob Hope, Michael Parkinson, Barry Humphries, Clive James, Geraldine Turner, Lorna Luft and Danny LaRue. This has given him vast accolades and a repertoire of riveting anecdotes. For the stage he co-wrote the musical Better Known as Bee, about Sydney eccentric Bee Miles. Collaborating with John-Michael Howson and Melvyn Morrow, the triumvirate of writers created the stage musical Shout! The Legend of the Wild One, which broke box-office records around Australia. Their second collaboration resulted in the hugely successful Dusty: The Original Pop Diva, which took $25 million at the box office during its initial run and won four Helpmann Awards and Melbourne's Green Room Award for Best New Australian production. He is part of the team responsible for the legendary live shows at the venues Capriccio's and Kinselas in Sydney - performances that are still discussed today. David has co-written the Helpmann Awards and for eleven years was Executive Producer of the top-rating series, This Is Your Life. A prolific freelance television producer, David's shows include The Mike Walsh Show, Parkinson in Australia, Saturday Night Clive and The Dame Edna Experience. His Australian Royal Bicentennial Concert in 1988 which starred Olivia Newton John, Peter Allen and Kylie Minogue, amongst many others, was described by international showbiz bible, Variety, as "pure, unremitting, unalloyed, entertainment!" The Stages Podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa
Collaboration is the essential life-force of the theatre. Disparate roles work together to produce an experience that is ephemeral; but if successful, the memory may last a lifetime. The adventure often begins with the Playwright, who drafts a blue-print of words and character and action that is then nurtured by a team and its nurturing wordsmith 'parent'. Tommy Murphy is such a 'parent'. He is one of our eminent story-tellers and collaboration comes easy. It is a process he relishes. Perhaps it's being one of eight children that has fostered the skill. Tommy Murphy is an award-winning playwright with recent productions in New York, San Francisco, Indiana, Los Angeles, Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney. He is the only playwright to win the NSW Premier's Award, a prestigious national writing prize, in successive years. Tommy is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Director's course) and a former writer in residence at Griffin Theatre Company. His plays include an adaptation of Marlowe's Massacre at Paris, Holding The Man, Strangers in Between, Troy's House, Gwen in Purgatory, Saturn's Return, Mark Colvin's Kidney and Precipice. His next play is Packer & Sons - a story that puts four generations of the Packer family on stage; men who loomed large over Sydney for nearly 100 years. It receives its debut season at the Belvoir Street Theatre from November 16th through to December 22nd. Tommy sat down with me to discuss Playwriting, Process and the Packers. Find more information on Packer & Sons at www.belvoir.com.au The Stages Podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa
Carolyn Chard has an eclectic taste in music; she is moved equally by the heavy beat of dance music or the gentle and beautiful melodies that speak to the soul. However it is the power of the classics and great composers of Opera that propel her through her work day as the Executive Director of West Australian Opera. The company was formed in 1967 and works in close association with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Ms Chard has steered the company for nearly two decades following various arts management positions around the country. Roles at Opera Australia, and Deckchair Theatre and Barking Gecko in WA, nurtured a great passion for the power of theatre. These positions followed her completion of the Arts Management degree at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Informing her decision to pursue Arts Management was her early producing forays in fashion and the rave scene. Working in the banking industry also provided terrific grounding; eclectic experiences indeed, that help to shape the practitioner and guide the artistic journey. Career paths are always fascinating and the rewards can be most satisfying. Ms Chard talks with great candour about her unique journey to arrive at the helm of WA's triumphant Opera Company. Stages is available from iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
"Tis a divided world in which we live. This creed versus that creed; highbrow versus lowbrow and so on, - ad infinitum. A major division at the present time - and one that interests us - is that the world is divided into two sections, those who have seen 'My Fair Lady' and those who haven't". This decree was the opening paragraph in the J.C. Williamson's program heralding the arrival of the musical sensation that had captured the public consciousness around the world - Lerner and Loewe's glorious musical examination of the social transformation of a young woman by a phonetics teacher - My Fair Lady In 1950's Australia the Original Cast Recording of My Fair Lady became a highly sought treasure. Families gathered at homes to 'Get to the Church on time' and 'Dance all Night' dreaming of the arrival of the show to Australian theatres - 'Wouldn't it be Loverley?' The musical was a return to graciousness and elegance on the stage; allied is the fact that it is a Cinderella story - surely theatre's surest standby. And it carries a rich source material in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Eager to replicate the productions in London and New York, the Australian Impresarios, J.C.Williamsons' imported American creatives and secured a principal cast from the UK. Williamson's had a policy at the time of preferring to cast lead players that they could bill as "direct from the West End" even if unknown. It was felt that an actor with that billing would always attract larger audiences than an Australian. Early days in the commercial theatre; but the seed for an Australian Company of players had been planted a couple of years earlier with The Pajama Game. Leading the Original Australian company of My Fair Lady was Bunty Turner. Born in Northern Ireland she had established herself as a singer of great accomplishment in U.K. productions of Free As Air, The Dancing Years and Hansel & Gretel. The original production of My Fair Lady in this country enjoyed tremendous success; so much so that a second company was launched to tour Australian capitals and New Zealand. Bunty Turner played the role of 'Eliza Doolittle' in productions throughout Australia and South Africa. What happened to Bunty at the conclusion of the show? We discover all, in this enchanting episode of STAGES with the vivacious and thoroughly engaging, Bunty Turner. The Stages podcast is available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
Zoe Terakes exudes a passion for her craft. She is immediately engaging on, or off the stage. She is a young actor set on a path to make the best work possible and with considerable credits assembled in her short career thus far, future prospects on stage and screen look assured, and mark her as an artist to watch. She made her stage debut in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge. Terakes' performance as Catherine earned her a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role in an Independent Production. Zoe also received a Helpmann nomination for this performance at the MTC. Her 'Catherine' was seen by audiences at The Old Fitz theatre, the Melbourne Theatre Company and The Ensemble theatre; contrasting spaces offering adjustment and discovery for the actor. Other theatre credits include A Doll's House Part II for MTC and Metamorphoses and The Wolves for The Old Fitz. Zoe made their screen debut in the critically acclaimed Janet King for the ABC opposite Marta Dusseldorp, whilst completing her HSC. She will next be seen in the Foxtel series The End. Most recently, Zoe co-starred in the feature film Ellie & Abbie (and Ellie's Dead Aunt), the short film The Craft, which premiered at FlickerFest, and the forthcoming web-series Bondi Slayer. Her enthusiasm for performance is contagious. Exposure to various platforms and working alongside some of the country's leading actors are offering her a unique opportunity to refine her craft and indeed, to make the best work she possibly can. STAGES conversations are available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa.
James Evans is Associate Director at Bell Shakespeare. He is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art and holds a Master of Arts from the University of Sydney. In 2018 he directed the Julius Caesar national tour, previously directing productions of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He has appeared in Richard 3, Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth and Henry 4. His other theatre credits include Paul and Homebody/Kabul for Belvoir; and Private Lives for the Queensland Theatre Company. James co-wrote and presented the acclaimed iPad App Starting Shakespeare and co-directed the ABC online series Shakespeare Unbound. He has been a visiting artist at the University of San Diego, as well as presenting a series of leadership seminars worldwide. In the corporate sector, James has established and facilitated professional development programs for numerous clients. He is currently directing a production of Much Ado About Nothing, opening next week at The Sydney Opera House, following a National tour. There was much ado in this episode of the podcast as we examined the life and times of The Bard of Avon, and brushed up our Shakespeare! Much Ado About Nothing begins its season at The Sydney Opera House on October 22nd. Bell Shakespeare has also recently released its season for 2020 - productions of Hamlet and The Comedy of Errors to look forward to. Further information at bellshakespeare.com.au
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.