Posts Tagged ‘Peter Rutherford


Dust Covered Butterfly


Dust Covered Butterfly
Metro Arts, Thomas Hutchins & Jake Shavikin
Metro Arts Sue Benner Theatre
June 2 – 20 2015

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward





Dust Covered Butterfly invites you along for a morally challenging ride of epic proportions ignited by fictitious story and fuelled by real events of serial killers, survivors, and kidnap victims. This new performance locks performer, character, and narrative in a basement with live original music where only the strongest can survive.

Plastic bags. Holy. Hundreds of them. White plastic shopping bags, having attained a reputation for languid beauty thanks to a famous film and awful infamy thanks to a number of killers. (I started a serial killer Google search but it was too disturbing). It’s a creepy set, living, breathing, and pulsating, but corpse cold at first, until later when it bleeds red. I don’t remember seeing the Sue Benner Theatre like this, although I recall sitting at a long table in the space where our seats are, with our bare feet in the dirt below, to join Robbie O’Brien and Erika Field for dinner during The Raven. Still, I’m disoriented, which is probably the ideal state in which to view this show.


We sit at the base of a stage of steps – the rises where the seats would be if we were not sitting in them on the stage – and slowly, a male silhouette appears to reign over this strange, silent white world. Microphones have been pre-set in their stands on the bottom step, the apron as it were. As if it were a stage. As if it were a cabaret show about to begin. AND WITH CHRIS FARRELL’S ENTRANCE IT DOES.




Think of Llorando in Mulholland Drive and, I don’t know why, but you’ll have the sense of it. Somehow Farrell manages to contain immense sadness veiled by something approximating sheer determination to enjoy the good times whilst struggling to behave appropriately in public places. When you see Farrell perform that might make more sense. Or…it might not.





Farrell is a beautiful, complex performer, taking us on a journey in this show that feels like we’re watching Dexter, in chapters, on the National Geographic Channel. It’s kinda’ wrong but it kinda’ works.



The text is Cotter’s, borrowed and torn apart and stitched together again from various sources, interviews with serial killers and personal accounts from survivors of the most unimaginable atrocities in basements for extended periods of time. I think I hear later, literally on the street outside Metro Arts, that the original concept was for a show without text. This almost explains the contemporary dance element, each performer indicating through shivers and ticks and leaps, an aspect of their character or their actions throughout the piece. It almost works at times, and at other times it’s distracting or not quite clear enough to warrant the extent of the repetition.


And the single plot line is not quite as clear as it could be – we need just a few more obvious clues as to what’s happening, but perhaps these are present when the players switch roles. So, there is work to do, but in this stage of its four-year life cycle, Dust Covered Butterfly is nevertheless an extraordinary combination of intriguing elements and formidable talent.


There are SO many elements, so many layers to this show, and just one disturbing theme.



What happens in the mind of a serial killer to make them decide to…

keep someone? AND THEN WHAT HAPPENS?



Captor – Captive – Bait



Three figures prepare to take on the roles and apparently, due to the audience vote; there is a different outcome for each performance. (And this as interactive as it gets, however; you might find this is confronting enough and not even feel comfortable to raise your hand!). On opening night we witnessed Katy Cotter as Captor, Bella Anderson as Captive and Michael Whittred as the Bait. Each is as comfortable in their role as if it were the only role they play during the season.




Anderson is stunning, or if I were to apply senior student speak, Anderson is a total babe; I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more from her. She’s a trembling, remorseful captive with SPUNK. Poor thing. My heart breaks while my head whispers, “You stupid, stupid girl!” This is obviously the desired effect, it feels right. As Whittred, clad in a trench coat and jocks, leaps between the role of the Bait and his other as ROCK GOD. Robbie Williams, we love you but just stand still sometimes like THIS. OK? OK.




Very effective. Whittred’s presence and his haunting, searing rock musical score make this show the Something Rotten of the season and I expect to see a few noms on the table, regardless of the final outcome in the popularity stakes. (There are only 50 seats per performance). There is strong work here. Whittred’s rock mini-score is so polished, it’s ready for the studio. In fact, there’ll be a recording available at the end of the season. Leave your details at Box Office to get a copy so you can say, “I heard it first”.


In its current form it really does feel as if the show is crying out to be a musical. I’d love to see it put in front of James Millar and Peter Rutherford (then see them get behind it!). Dust Covered Butterfly is the stuff of New Musicals Australia, a development process that takes its successful participants to Hayes Theatre for a full season. AND THEN THERE’S THE NEW YORK MUSIC THEATRE FESTIVAL. Of course, with the final shows this weekend, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s part of the Queensland Cabaret Festival. GUYS, YOU REALISE THE LINK HERE IS KRIS STEWART.




As you might expect, Cotter plays the Killer coldly, and as you might not expect, warmly, with devastating compassion for her captive. Her care and concern becomes chilling and we get a glimpse into a serious case of Stockholm syndrome, which continues to fascinate me because of course, anybody in a long-term relationship is familiar with it. No, really, you must recognise the cycle of seduction and isolation and protection and obsession and intimidation and destruction… Is it just me? Okay, don’t tell Sam I said that. Maybe tell him? No, don’t tell him. Okay, tell him. I’ll just be here…waiting.


Cotter’s pink top reads not, “This is my dance space” but “KILLER”, and Anderson is dressed in a flirty white Some Like It Hot baby doll Marilyn frock with curious blackened – dead – fingers and toes, like Laura Palmer, dead, wrapped in plastic. But it’s not David Lynch throwing this party; it’s Thomas Hutchins, in his directorial debut, and it’s impressive. I like the choices here and I’d like to see it live again. Go catch it in this form though. It has a very short lifespan in this interesting space, with the current season ending June 20.


Production pics Morgan Roberts




New Musicals Australia – The Shortlist


New Musicals Australia is a fab new initiative from the very clever Kris Stewart, whom you know from The New York Musical Theater Festival, The Sydney Fringe Festival and Wicked (Australia) and his amazing team of some of our most talented and passionate industry people, who cannot bear to see musical theatre brilliance left in the bottom drawer.

There is brilliant new musical theatre happening already, all over the country – look at the shortlisted Handle With Care by Megan Shorey, with a successful Brisbane season under their belts and an original cast album launched just last week. Look at the shortlisted A Little Touch of Class by James Millar and Peter Rutherford, which was commissioned by WAAPA to be performed as part of their 30th birthday celebrations. Look at this creative team’s previous works, Lovebites (nominated for Best Cabaret in the 2008 Sydney Awards) and The Hatpin (official selection for the NYMF).

Okay we will. We’ll look at them. In a minute. The important thing now, having been shortlisted for this workshop series, is that these pieces will get the additional attention they deserve, and with a bit of kind support from the movers and shakers in this country, rather than the artists themselves having to devote their time and energy into playing Producer as well as putting on their many other hats, such as Director, Musical Director, Composer, Lyricist, Performer, Performing Arts Grants Writer…and the list goes on – never say an artist is master of just one craft – Australian audiences get to see great Australian work.

Also, the fact that these artists are already supported on some level and they have been confident enough in their work to be sharing it with main stream audiences, cannot have escaped the attention of the advisory panel. Just saying.

Case in point. James Millar is a modest, multi-talented-beyond-belief-writer-singer-actor-you-name-it-he-can-do-it kinda guy, who wrote a couple of shows several years ago with Peter Rutherford. I bet there are more, probably to be found in somebody’s bottom drawer, in time for an intense rehearsal stint and a Sydney run before next year’s NMA deadline.


N.B. Lazy bit – copying and pasting this from Sonia Allan’s review:

Four voices team with one piano to create a delightful night of fun, breezy musical entertainment.

LoveBites is a “quirky song cycle about love and relationships” which tells the story of six different relationships – from the cute, blushing beginning of flirtation and romance, to the pointy-end of the relationship, where the connection between lovers has either grown deeper over time, or has been worn thin by frustration and hurt.

The music-and-lyrics team that created ‘The Hatpin’ which opened to audiences earlier this year to great success, has once again joined forced to write a song-cycle on the theme of Love. Or Lurrrve, as the case may be.

Among other stories, there is the film star and flight attendant who arrange some ‘personal entertainment’ mid-flight, a twittering dame who valiantly pretends to love rockclimbing to impress her new beau, and (a personal favourite) the story of two members of a bookclub, startled to be left alone to chat over the merits of George Orwell when nobody else shows.

The production is small-scale, with a simple open stage, a slide-show of projected images, and a piano to one side where composer Peter Rutherford accompanies the four singers, Octavia Barron-Martin, Tyler Burness, Sarah Croser and James Millar, who co-wrote the show with Rutherford, supplying the lyrics. While occasional vocal shrillness from Barron-Martin marred an otherwise entertaining performance, overall each of the performers displayed great comic timing, heartfelt engagement with the more tender, sorrowful stories, and a strong command of the music.

This is a sweet, fun, modest show that sets itself a simple concept and executes it sharply, cleverly and with high entertainment value.

But be warned – after seeing this show, you may find yourself fighting the urge to carry out every conversation you have the next day in song.


The Hatpin. You may have heard of it. Or you may not have heard of it…yet. The Hatpin was nominated in 2009 for 3 Sydney Theatre awards (Michelle Doake won Best Actress in a Musical), after a successful season at the 2008 NYMF with the following cast (you may have heard of some of them)

Amber Murray – Alexis Fishman

Harriet Piper – Caroline O’Connor

Charles Makin – Paul Kandel

Agatha Makin – Cyrilla Baer

Clara Makin – Gemma-Ashley Kaplan

Justice Stephens / James Hanoney – Michael A. Pizzi

Marianne Leonard – Casey Erin Clark

Minnie Davis – Mary Catherine McDonald

Rebecca Rigby – Sharone Halevy

Edward Cleary – Matt Leisy

Thomas Williamson – Billy Clark Taylor




To enquire about performance rights for The Hatpin in Australia and New Zealand, contact the good people at Hal Leonard.


And now, another quick copy and paste so that, without further ado, you may see who else is on the Shortlist and what happens next! Stay tuned!

NMA cont’d…
Our inaugural call for submissions unveiled a wealth of new and exciting work. The NMA office received almost 50 new Australian musicals ranging from rock to classical – from fantasy to history. The NMA evaluation panel has reviewed the submissions and we are proud to announce our shortlist for the 2010/11 workshop season.


Carnival Joe(by Mark Jones & Anthony Crowley)
A broad, exuberant Australian musical comedy, set during the spring racing carnival of 1933.

Handle With Care (by Megan Shorey)
A collection of four short musicals celebrating both the beauty and bitch of being a woman.

Houdini- The Man From Beyond (by Russell Bauer & Dr Bruce Dawe)
Through vaudeville performance and recreations of some of his signature illusions, we’re shown the final 15 years in the life of Harry Houdini.

Kells (by Stefan Cassomenos & Nick Musgrove)
A symphonic musical inspired by the true story of the killer whales of Eden.

La Creole (by Julia Plummer, Nicholas Gentile & Cheryl Sawyer)
A revenge tale set in 1755 where a slave from Martinique runs away to Paris and Versailles determined to destroy her cruel Master.

A Little Touch of Chaos (by Peter Rutherford & James Millar)
Through different characters and intersecting timelines, the experience of growing-up for a parent echoes the experience of growing-up for their child.

Mother, Wife and the Complicated Life (by Amity Dry)
A tale of modern marriage and motherhood, seen through the experiences of four close friends.

Prix D’Amour (by Paul Dion)
A sweeping historical drama, spanning from Manila during the Vietnam War to Perth in the 1980s.

Refrakting (by David Peake)
It’s Saturday night in Melbourne, and the city’s youth are converging to get trashed. To forget. But there’s something that Jaydn can’t forget.

Showtrain(by Andrew Worboys & Zvonko Jovicic)
A tall yarn spun by a mysterious vagabond minstrel as a travelling sideshow try desperately to save their way of life on the showtrain.

Three Weeks in Spring (by Russell Tredinnick & Ian Gerrard)
Private John Simpson and his donkey sit at the centre of a contemporary imagining of the origins of Anzac Day.

A Woman’s Eyes (by Paul Keelan & Gary Young)
The story of an ordinary Australian woman’s life set against extraordinary events of the twentieth century.

All shortlisted works now receive further consideration by NMA artistic staff, representatives of the Australia Council Music Board and other industry professionals.  From this shortlist, works are selected to receive workshopping opportunities within the New Musicals Australia initiative.

Advisory panel members who read submitted works included Peter Casey, Will Conyers, Kellie Dickerson, Rodney Dobson, Neil Gooding, Roger Hodgman, Karen Johnson Mortimer, Guy Noble, Jennifer Murphy, Peter Ross and Darren Yap.

New Musicals Australia has three key workshop initiatives: The Musical Snapshot, which presents a twenty to forty minute extract of the musical in concert alongside other new works, The Developmental Reading, which sees a new work rehearsed and performed in concert and the Workshop Presentation, which allows a musical to be rehearsed and performed book-down with staging and some production elements.  New Musicals Australia also supports a variety of other initiatives targeted at developing new works, establishing networks and providing support for independent writers.


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