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.
Rodney Delaney has relished a life in the theatre as a performer and director. The recent period has seen him provide the most essential of roles; that as Dresser for artists and productions at Opera Australia. He is passionate about the Arts and in a conversation one always manages to glean new knowledge, generous compliment, an analysis of a recent theatrical offering and generally some delicious showbiz news. Starting out in Brisbane he was enamoured with the theatre from a young age, having walked past a theatre presenting Call Me Madam, and starring the great Evie Hayes. He sensed something was different about this building and quickly established a rapport with the leading lady. Work in the theatre and revue allowed him an opportunity to learn the structure of a show and to read an audience. A chance meeting landed him in the touring production of The Sound of Music and a quick brush with the character of Rolf. A period working in television working as a Set Dresser gave him more skills before a career in directing for the stage came to the fore. Together with Matthew O'Sullivan, Betty Cheal and Lynne Porteous he established the Actor's Company; the first serious attempt at a professional co-operative theatre in Sydney. The Company staged their productions in various spaces in Kings Cross and Paddington, ultimately finding a home in the Esme Hackett Memorial Hall in Ultimo. A diverse repertoire was presented including Play It Again Sam, A Taste of Honey, Look Back in Anger, The Foursome, The Caretaker and Naked Hamlet. The company lasted over four years but was dismantled in 1979 after a production of The Glass Menagerie. Musical theatre is a passion , along with our great leading ladies. We begin our conversation dissecting the iconic work Gypsy and the many stars who have navigated the role of Rose in the show. He is a font of theatrical knowledge and great company. It is always a treat to hear about the many stages of Rodney Delaney.
Nicholas Brown is an artist of many dimensions - actor, playwright, singer, songwriter and screenwriter. The Australian-Indian actor has explored many roles, from genial host on Playschool, presenting a multicultural face to a young audience; and a foray into the celebrated Bollywood Film Industry, making his mark in a succession of villainous characters. Direct from secondary education, Brown was one of the youngest actors to be accepted into training at NIDA. Roles in Packed to the rafters, White Collar Blue, Home and Away and The Cooks followed - along with unique experiences performing in theatre at various international festivals. Songwriting and performing has always been a passion - and for several years he hosted SBS Radio's Pop Desi program, broadcasting the biggest Bollywood, Bhangra and Desi pop selection in Australia. A move to Mumbai saw him develop a repertoire of Bollywood films including Love You to Death, Sedition, Prattichayya and the lead role in the highly successful Kites. In 2016 his play Lighten Up (co-authored by Sam McCool) was presented at the Griffin Theatre. The play told "a universal tale of identity, cultural assimilation and bleaching your bits". He sat down with Stages to examine his work in Australia and abroad, and the crucial consideration of diversity on our screens and stages; effectively representing and reflecting an ever-evolving Australian population. Nicholas Brown is currently appearing in the Australian premiere production of Come From Away. The musical opens tonight in Melbourne. It plays the Comedy Theatre, before a tour to other States. Stages episodes available in iTunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa
For 22 years the Stage Door at The Lyric Theatre in Sydney has been attended by John C. Goad. He is a charming and generous soul, with a wicked sense of humour and a valiant sense of duty. He has seen the comings and goings of many a theatrical as they have taken up occupancy at the theatre, playing a season and then moving on. The Stage Door is the entrance to the magic and illusion of the theatre. Through this door our storytellers pass. International and local names, jobbing actors, ensembles and company members, enter and depart the building from this artery. Some return with other shows and some provide only fleeting glimpses, but all depend on the efficiency and protection of Stage Door Johnny - a nickname anointed on John from the great Marlene Dietrich, when he was working at stage doors in London. Goad was raised in Papua New Guinea, where he developed his love of performance and story-telling. As a member of various theatre groups he toured the country presenting shows in English and Pidgin. The absence of a pen-friend began his writing to theatre, film, sporting and political identities around the world. This often lead to lengthy correspondence and occasional meetings. In 1979 he landed in London to commence employment as Personal Assistant to the late British actor Patrick Cargill. Goad studied acting with Studio 68 and was a founding member of Stage 80. He has worked as an actor, singer, interpreter, and PA; also front-of-house and at stage door, allowing him unique observations of the business from all angles. Sydney Lyric Theatre has housed almost 100 productions in its life thus far. It's also hosted an array of world names, but one essential commonality for all of the artists is the access they must gain via the stage door. Fair to say, this procession has garnered some fascinating encounters and observations. John C. Goad joined STAGES for an insightful chat about the duty, the discretion and the dedication of the Stage Door Keeper. Discover more at stagedoorjohhny.com
Nick Hardcastle is charisma on legs. A vibrant personality, it is no surprise that he has enjoyed success in various fields around the world. He may be immediately recognisable as Summer Bay resident Tim O'Connell in Home and Away or as the genial host of Video Hits. His TV credits extend to extensive work as presenter on a range of shows that have included Saturday Disney and five seasons of the highly popular Creature Features. No stranger to the stage, Nick has scored theatrical credits in Australia, London and Los Angeles. These include the role of Felicia in the musical, Priscilla the Queen of the Desert and Damian in Reuben Guthrie. All this experience lead him to co-found the Australian Theatre Company - a theatrical venture that showcases Australian repertoire and harnesses the array of Australian talent working in the U.S.; fostering a creative and meaningful cultural exchange. He is presently working on a show that celebrates the legendary Hollywood Costume Designer, Orry Kelly. The show, Orry, was recently invited to launch Celebration Theatre's New Works Program in the city of West Hollywood. As actor, presenter, producer, recording artist and with gigs on radio, Nick is essentially an entertainment Renaissance man. Currently based in LA, he was back recently for a brief visit, and as ever, it is always a treat and a chuckle to spend some time with Nick.
Phil Scott has many strings on his long bow - actor, writer, pianist, singer, composer, reviewer and broadcaster. Adept across several mediums he has ensured that anyone who is present in his audience is guaranteed several smiles, much guffaw and rapt awe at his rapier wit and keyboard dexterity. He was a pivotal on-stage member of the annual STC Wharf Revue for 18 years demonstrating how satire deftly allows a community to examine itself.The titles alone conjure the sort of treat to be devoured - Free Petrol, Sunday in Iraq with George, Much Revue About Nothing and Pennies From Kevin. He also wrote and performed for several ABC television series'.These include Good News Week,Three Men and a Baby Grand and The Gillies Report. Extending his writing to the narrative form, he has had four comic novels published in Australia and the U.S. with such fabulous titles as One Dead Diva, It's About Your Friend, Gay Resort Murder Shock and Mardi Gras Murders. He is a cabaret veteran, having first explored the form in 1983 with his solo show, A Legend in His Own Mind. He has appeared at venues around Australia and has been a regular at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. Most recently he performed a one-man show about the English songwriter Lionel Bart titled Reviewing the Situation and contributed writing and performance to the biographical work Mario, about the life and music of Mario Lanza. His talents have also been present in the evolution of a significant number of cabaret performances as co-creator - The Twink and the Showgirl, Pop Princess, Newley Discovered, Gentlemen Prefer Blokes, Fat Swan, Little Orphan Trashley, Diamonds are For Trevor and Liza's Back (is broken). Oh! And he's written a couple of Musicals as well. Next up is a season of his new show (with Jonathan Biggins) No Cabaret For Old Men. It will feature as one of the highlights of the 2019 Sydney International Cabaret Festival on now. Phil talks cabaret and much more in this absorbing episode of STAGES.
Trevor Ashley has accomplished a number of roles - Director, Writer, Producer, Musician, Actor, Singer, Drag performer and Superstar ... he can now add Impresario to the extensive list of credits populating his CV. Ashley is about to give birth to his very first celebration of international cabaret - as founder and Artistic Director of the Sydney International Cabaret Festival arriving in the city from July 5th to 14th. No stranger to cabaret, Ashley made his performing debut at Sydney's previous dalliance with the art form; an annual festival conducted at the SydneyTown Hall. Since then he has of course given us celebrated performances in shows that have affectionately rendered Liza Minelli, Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner and Susan Boyle. He has also presented personally tailored pantomimes .... crowd pleasers that have included Black Swan,The Bodybag and Little Orphan Trashley. All have content that launches from the stage into an unsuspecting audience, exploding with tremendous energy, wicked storytelling, joyous laughter and an abundance of naughty. It is these traits that have made Ashley a consummate cabaret performer and have guided him in the selection of an exciting program of performance for the inaugural Sydney International Cabaret Festival. It is a program of which he is very proud and excited. And one that we cannot wait to see! Trevor Ashley was a guest of ours in season 1, episode 4 of STAGES. He returns for a second time to discuss his exciting program and the magical, theatrical form of Cabaret.
For 30 years Aaron Farley and his Drag persona Minnie Cooper have been entertaining audiences from Oxford street to Oxford circus. A happy accident in 2003 saw Farley fall into the art of Drag and a new Diva was born. Miss Minnie Cooper is an enamoured part of the Drag Industry and a recipient of more Drag Industry Variety Awards (DIVAs) than just about anyone, and has been awarded Entertainer of the Year on a record number of four occasions. This new dimension in Farley's career followed an established position in many commercial musical productions throughout Australia including The Witches of Eastwick, Showboat, Crazy For You, Chicago and Singin' in The Rain. It all commenced with a triumphant debut in the dance hit Hot Shoe Shuffle - the phenomenon created by choreographer David Atkins that conquered stages in Australia and the U.K. Successful turns as a choreographer and director have also allowed Farley to flex his creative muscle, teaching a new legion of performers and constructing engaging artistry for audiences. Mr Farley and Miss Cooper join the illustrious line-up for the inaugural Sydney International Cabaret Festival. He hosts the Late Night Cabaret Lounge at The Seymour Centre on the debut evening of the Festival. Aaron Farley joined Stages to discuss his drag persona, his passion for performance and and all that glitters. Available in itunes, Spotify and Whooshkaa
Born and bred in Adelaide, it would seem today's guest on STAGES was born to dance! Dance classes lead to competitive dance ... work in musical theatre and then to his success as one of the country's most versatile choreographers. Cameron Mitchell has acted as personal choreographer for musical theatre star, Caroline O'Connor; provided the steps to child entertainers Hi5. And he has choreographed for an impressive list that includes Kelly Rowland, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Sony Music, Warner Music and Festival records. With each dance he creates a unique language tailored specifically for the artist in focus. As a performer he has appeared regularly in commercial musical theatre - HOT SHOE SHUFFLE, CHICAGO, OLIVER, WEST SIDE STORY, MY FAIR LADY and SPAMALOT. His passion for musical theatre has seen him extend his role to that of a much in demand choreographer, creating dance to support the storytelling and shape the world of a variety of projects - MACK AND MABEL, CALAMITY JANE, BIG FISH and CRY-BABY are just a few. Cameron has also fostered the training of many young performers, previously serving as Artistic Director of Sydney's Brent Street Studios - guiding young dancers to be versatile and to embrace a range of styles. This year he makes his directorial debut at the Hayes Theatre with the musical CATCH ME IFYOU CAN ....Well .... I caught Cameron and here's our insightful conversation.
Ron Creager is a fervent believer in saying 'Yes' to all opportunities presented to him. Sometimes prepared, sometimes not, it is this cavalier attitude that has allowed him to wear many hats and travel the world extensively as a solo pianist, accompanist, Musical Director and performer. Creager's talents extend to the composition of several musicals - Careful He Might Hear You, Aimee and When The Bough Breaks to name but a few. His specialty compositions have contributed to shows like Madonna and Child, in which he toured nationally with Tony's Lamond and Sheldon. A chance meeting in Los Angeles with legendary Australian performer Toni Lamond, lead Creager in becoming her regular Musical Director and Accompanist; a role that brought him to Australia. As Arranger and Accompanist he has also worked with an array of mighty talent including Helen Reddy, Tim Draxl, Tina C, Derek Metzger, Simon Burke, Jeannie Little, Paul Capsis and Kerrie Biddell. The role as accompanist is so crucial to the singer that the two performers must merge as one in a relationship where each must navigate the song in synch. It's a role where Creager has been lauded as one of the best. Originally from Kentucky, Creager was raised on church music giving him an extensive knowledge of the Gospel repertoire, and roles as organist and choir director for several churches. Ron was recently back in Australia and we managed a long overdue catch-up. He discusses the role of accompanist and talks us through a few of his compositions, providing us with access to the music and the awesome vocalists that have have performed the material.
The BBC described Ruthie Henshall as a mega-watt talent shining in all its dazzling brilliance. Scottish print media, The Scotsman commented, she has the kind of brilliant, high-voltage stage personality that can light up whole cities. Fair to say, Miss Henshall is the definition of a Star. Ruthie Henshall made her West End debut in 1987 in Cats, navigating several of the feline family before assuming the pivotal role of Grizabella. This supremely gifted 19 year old would go on to become a five time Olivier Award nominee for a succession of roles in Crazy For You, Chicago, Peggy Sue Got Married and Marguerite; winning for the role of Amalia in the London revival of She Loves Me. Her list of theatre credits is extensive and in an extraordinary accomplishment, audiences have seen her play the three female principal roles in the musical Chicago; originating the role of Roxie in the West End, giving her Velma on Broadway and returning recently to the London production in the role of Matron Mama Morton. As a recording artist she can be accessed in various cast recordings and several solo albums including The Ruthie Henshall Album, Pilgrim and Love Is Here To Stay - a celebration of Gershwin. She's also an author - So You Want To Be In Musicals, released in 2012, is available from all good booksellers. Audiences cite her as one of their favourite voices; a consummate storyteller who can navigate a lyric with nuance, strength and tremendous vulnerability. She has the gift of being able to affect an audience and elicit a range of emotional responses. She is one of the world's leading music theatre performers, currently in the middle of an Australian tour. Ladies and Gentlemen ... Miss Ruthie Henshall.
The working life of a dancer is relatively short. Not in all cases of course, but a day often arrives when a dancer can dance no more - so what are the options? How does one create new opportunities and future employment? Shane Colquhoun was a professional dancer for 12 years before detouring into Arts Management, studying at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. It was a change of course that has allowed him a unique opportunity to contribute to various artistic forms and ensure longevity of career. Shane completed his training at The Royal Ballet School in London, before taking contracts to dance with London Festival Ballet and work through Europe and Australia. An engagement as a Guest dancer with WA Ballet brought him back home and re-energised him with a thriving arts scene in the West. He has worked with a range of arts organisations, chiefly in WA. These include Deckchair Theatre, The West Australian Ballet and the Black Swan Theatre Company. He is a champion of young artists - always ready to encourage, support and advise. He serves on ample boards, giving back to a community that encouraged him. And assists in steering Arts organisations to make their mark in WA and abroad. His enthusiasm and passion are contagious. His vision and energy is impressive. I'm thrilled that STAGES had an opportunity to talk with a West Australian creative ... I welcome my old friend, Shane Colquhoun.
Barry Dickins is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. He is a celebrated playwright whose work astutely portrays the marrow of Australian life, in deft characterisations of our idiosyncratic lifeblood and the telling of tales, tall and true. His talents extend to author, artist, actor, educator and journalist. His work is made up of acute observations and unique interpretation ... given titles that seem to bottle our essence with sublime perfection - THE HORROR OF SUBURBAN NATURE STRIPS, THE BLOODY TERROR OF DENTISTRY, BEDLAM AUTOS and THE BANANA BENDER. There is no doubting the immense contribution he has made to Australia's cultural life. Writing chiefly for the Independent sector, his plays have seen life in iconic venues around Australia such as La Mama, Theatreworks, St Martin's, Nimrod, La Boite and The Pram Factory. His work has also been featured on main stages at the Melbourne Theatre Company & Playbox Theatre. Biographical works riffing on the themes of Frank Thring, Brett Whiteley and Ronald Ryan have also received the Dickins pen. The Ronald Ryan story giving him the 1995 Victorian Premier's Literary Award. He also wrote a novel of Ryan - the last man hanged in Australia. Most recently he has examined the story of Sydney socialite and campaigner Juanita Nielsen. Dickins writes with inimitable wit, humour and lyricism and has the ability to find the ridiculous and jubilant amid pain. He is a true Australian legend. A great character of the theatre - and life - it was a delight to 'chew the fat' with Barry Dickins.
It was whilst enjoying a successful career in the U.S., navigating a series of guest roles in high-profile television shows like Homeland, Law & Order, Blue Bloods and The Newsroom, that Fiona Choi was offered a life-changing casting at home - that of Jenny Law, the passionate matriarch of the Law family in the SBS series, The Family Law. Equals part pathos and comedy, the character has become iconic and enabled Choi a unique position in the Australian television landscape; a middle-aged woman of Chinese heritage balancing the roles of Mother and Wife. It's a universal narrative but the show is a first in its portrayal of the loving but dysfunctional Chinese-Australian family. As can be the want of show business, it seems to have taken a couple of decades for Choi to become 'an overnight sensation'. She became hooked as a performer during her secondary education, going on to become an avid member of her University theatre organisation. As a graduate of the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, her early career began in the commercial musicals Rent and Mamma Mia. An impressive theatre resume added recent forays at the Melbourne Theatre Company in The Lady in the Van and the August production of Golden Shield. Her present focus is the construction of a one-woman show celebrating Hollywood's first Chinese movie star and international style icon, Anna May Wong. The show, Dragon Lady, features Choi in an intimate performance that travels through Anna May's past and tackles her demons with scandalous reminiscences and sparkling musical numbers. Dragon Lady provokes questions about the struggles of cultural identity and the heavy price of ambition. Dragon Lady will premiere at The Adelaide Cabaret Festival in June, confirming Choi as a talent of great versatility and power. What a treat it was to sit down with Fiona to discuss Dragon Lady, The Family Law, the visibility of our Asian storytellers and Motherhood.
Elizabeth Butcher is a humble hero of the Performing Arts in Australia. An administrator of considerable brilliance, she has steered many of our Arts organisations to prominence, accolade, survival and celebration; nationally and on the world stage. She was the dynamic General Manager of the National Institute of Dramatic Art for nearly 40 years, and together with its Director, John Clarke, steered the school to become the flagship training ground for Arts practitioners. It was Elizabeth who found the site of the Sydney Theatre Company - an abandoned wharf in Walsh Bay - who upon discovery, knew it would be the perfect home for a theatre company. She was present at the beginnings of the Sydney Theatre Company and managed the move of the Old Tote Theatre Company to the newly built Sydney Opera House, for its finale season of plays. Elizabeth Butcher has served on countless boards including The Australia Council, The Seymour Centre, Playing Australia, and the University of Technology Arts Management Course Advisory Committee. She was Chairman of the Sydney Opera House Trust from 1989 -1995, a role that fills her with great pride. Essential contributions have also been made in positions on the NSW Government Cultural Grants Advisory Council and the Council of the University of New South Wales. It is a most remarkable resume and her achievements in Arts Management are extensive. It is her role at NIDA as nurturer, manager and business executive that has endeared her to many, and ensured that young artists received the best training and launch-pad possible. In 1984 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the Performing Arts. It was my great privilege to celebrate Elizabeth Butcher and her immense contribution to the cultural life of Australia in this episode of STAGES.
An accident in her youth, could have ended the performance career of Chloe Dallimore. She was not going to let that happen. A determined focus and the discovery of pilates therapy, ensured that she would heal herself to then be available to take on the world - and more. Dallimore is one of our most cherished performers. Roles in The Producers, The Addams Family and Thoroughly Modern Millie have engaged audiences and demonstrated a practitioner of considerable skill, charm and joy. Any meeting with her, on stage or off, will guarantee a smile, a full heart and the precious gift of having met a special human being. She is selfless, generous and also an incredible overachiever. When not gracing our stages, she currently serves as the National President of MEAA (the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance), guiding the organisation through a myriad of challenges from imported artists and saving theatres to establishing diversity, equity and safety in the workplace. It's a role that keeps her very busy - but Dallimore is committed in representing her fellow performers to achieve fairness and reward. She is also an accomplished businesswoman and has continued her great appreciation of the benefits of the pilates technique, with managing her own studios. We should all be so lucky to know a champion like Chloe. I very much enjoyed this catch-up, giggle and passionate discussion with Chloe Dallimore.