This Is Your Brain On Musical Theatre - 7 Questions with (Funny Thing!) Mitchell Butel
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by Jacqueline Bublitz
Musical theatre star, Shakespearean actor, AFI nominee and voice of the Playschool theme song. These are just some of the eclectic credits on Mitchell Butel's resume. As one of Australia's most talented entertainers, Butel can also add cabaret and opera star to the list - and puppeteer too, after his Helpmann Award winning performance in AVENUE Q.
Butel's extensive theatre highlights include roles in PIAF for Melbourne Theatre Company, DUSTY for Dusty Productions and HAIR for The Production Company. He won the first of his two Helpmann awards for THE VENETIAN TWINS, and has also received Green Room nominations for his performances in AVENUE Q, LITTLE ME, and OKLAHOMA.
Currently treading the boards in Sondheim's A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, Butel shares the stage with an all-star cast including Geoffrey Rush, Magda Szubanski, Shane Bourne and Christie Whelan. As the production heads into its last month in Melbourne we take a peek into Mitchell Butel's brain on musical theatre …
This Is Your Brain On Musical Theatre – 7 Questions with Mitchell Butel
Is there a particular show and/or person that first made you feel like 'this is what I want to do'?
The first musical I ever saw was "Song and Dance" and Gaye McFarlane's knockout performance in the "Song" section opened many a door in my mind. In the same theatre the following year, I saw "Little Shop of Horrors" and was hooked. (And I got to play Seymour many years later which was a joy and nice circle).
Can you remember the moment when you first understood that you could sing the way most others can't?
At age 10 before my voice had cracked, I was given the solo by the school choir mistress in "You'll Never Walk Alone" ("Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart" etc.) with the crazy high notes and I did think "Hmmm, I like this feeling!" I was always a dab hand with a Christmas Carol performance for my family too, it must be said!
Is there one night in your career that you would love to go back to and experience over again?
I've been lucky to have so many great nights in so many great shows with great people but here are a few: the opening night of "Little Me" at the State Theatre where I relished playing multiple crazy men; singing with Bernadette Peters at the Opera House; rowing on a moonlit lake at midnight filming the ABC series "Bordertown"; being told by the entire cast of "Summer Rain" at my dressing room door post-shower that I'd won my first Helpmann Award for "The Venetian Twins".
Is there one role that belongs to the opposite gender or a different age group that you'd secretly love to perform?
There are sooo many!! I've had my eye on Fanny Brice since I came out of the womb and I'd kill to play Viola in "Twelfth Night" one day!
What book/TV show/movie is a musical just waiting to happen?
I can't believe "Tootsie" hasn't been made into a musical yet. Dorothy Michaels is a Tony Award waiting to happen!
Do you still sing in the shower when you sing for a living?
I sing all the time. My family once watched "The Three Amigos" on TV on a Sunday night and when the singing bush appeared, they all proclaimed without hesitation that I was not dissimilar!
and finally, borrowing from James Lipton via Bernard Pivot
What sound or noise do you love?
Wind in the trees; rain on a tin roof; and a diva in full belt, post-key change!!
Mitchell Butel and Magda Szubanski in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
Image Credit: Jeff Busby
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne
Until Sunday, 6th January, 2013
For tickets and further information click here