Australian musical theatre royalty Rachael Beck and Michael Cormick are joining forces to bring to Adelaide a night of musical theatre magic. Renowned for their award-winning roles as Belle and the Beast in the original Australian production of Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, they reunite for an electrifying night of theatrical stories and songs.
In amongst Rachael’s busy schedule, she caught up with me to talk about her upcoming show in Adelaide with Michael, and shared her recent experience at the Australian Music Theatre Festival in Tasmania.
“It was amazing. I thought, who would have known that little old Launceston is so behind musical theatre? The government gives a lot of money to put this festival on. It was an absolute celebration of humanity and connection and creativity. It was a celebration of all those three things and not just, ‘Oh, look, we’re going to do a bit of a song and dance here.’ It was about all of humanity. That’s why we do what we do, so people can connect with themselves, with each other, and feel as though they’re not alone in their feelings of love and loss and struggle.”
Not only is Rachael one of Australia’s leading ladies of musical theatre, she is also a master of cabaret. I asked Rachael if there is a format she prefers between theatre and cabaret.
“I definitely see value in both, because every time you research and go into a character in a show, you are exploring and doing what I call body jumping. You’re really like Diana in Next to Normal, which I did with the Black Swan over in Perth. I found it fascinating because I played a bipolar woman and all the ricochet effects. Friends of mine came out of the woodwork and said they had struggled with this for a long time and just finding out about humanity is amazing. Doing Fantine in Les Mis was amazing because of the history, and Sally Bowles in Cabaret, looking at that whole world. For me it’s really fascinating and wonderful also to work with everyone, as you become a family. That was another thing that was great about the festival I’ve just returned from: you remember you’re part of a tribe. And that’s been hard for me, bringing up my girls and being a single mum, because I’ve had to pull away from earning my money in this industry with the long tours and that family feel you get. It’s sort of been three month things or Sydney Theatre Company things, or an event here, or my one woman show or festivals, things like that. I feel very comfortable doing a cabaret, and, in fact, I’m writing a new one right now. I watched Todd McKenney over and over again and certain other people who are experts at that style. I found my way into feeling comfortable. I think I’m sort of a little bit known as the girl next door, so I feel comfortable being that as well.
“I don’t hide stuff. I think there are two differences for me. You can sing the songs you want to sing in the keys you want to sing, tell the stories you want to tell. You can change it every time. There’s only you and a piano player or a band. Whereas the skill of eight times a week is that it’s eight times a week for a year, and you have to be an absolute athlete. You have to hit that note every time for that length of time. You have to find the freedom of creativity in the eight shows a week.”
On Friday 14 and Saturday 15 July, Rachael will be reuniting with Michael Cormick for three magical performances of their cabaret show You and I.
“I think they’ll be laughing a lot; I think they’ll be crying a lot. It’s definitely a personal style – New York style – cabaret show, but with lots of big blockbusters and love songs and stories from both Michael’s and my careers. Michael talks about an instance in his first audition with Andrew Lloyd Webber and trying not to wee on Sarah Brightman’s painting and things like that. All those naughty sort of stories that we have. There’s a lot of hilarity, but some honest and eye opening stories about certain people. It’s a really well-rounded show.”
Interviewed by Ben Stefanoff
Photo credit: supplied