2007 Newspaper Articles
Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:39 AM
Anthony Callea Print E-mail
By Kieran Bycroft. Images by Nigel Etherington.
In his Herald Sun interview of March this year, in which he officially announced his homosexuality, Anthony Callea said he was looking forward to living a life with no barriers or having to worry about saying the right thing. This newfound freedom of expression was clearly evident when GAYinWA was granted an exclusive interview with the pop star, currently in Perth preparing for a starring role in the musical Rent.
It�s been six months since Callea asked his friend Cameron Adams to write that piece. I expected he may be a little tired of answering the same questions, but when I prefaced the interview by asking him what I could ask and how long I had, his relaxed response was a welcome surprise. The resulting interview, which can be heard in in our very first GAYinWA Podcast, is a candid insight into a former Idol and burgeoning icon. Anthony Callea doesn�t hold back.
Rent, one of the most successful rock musicals ever, opens in Bunbury on 1 November, moving to Subiaco�s Regal Theatre shortly after for the better part of the month. In this locally-produced version of the Tony Award-winning musical, directed by Chris Kabay, Callea plays Mark, an aspiring young documentary filmmaker from whose perspective the musical is largely played out, a factor he finds a little daunting. �To be totally honest with you, I�m totally out of my comfort zone. You know this is something completely new for me. To walk into something like this, it�s quite overwhelming actually�.
Rehearsals for Rent commenced weeks ago, but due to Telethon commitments and a supporting role in his first stage musical, the opera Dead Man Walking, Callea has only been involved for a matter of days. He admits that in Dead Man Walking he �virtually had four or five lines�, so his starring role in Rent is going to be very different. Both stage productions, though, have been a learning experience.�I�m used to going out there and being me, performing with my band and interacting with a crowd and singing my own songs. All of a sudden I have to forget about all of that and be a character � I have to live and breathe this character, Mark � and I�ve never done that before so it�s a bit of a challenge for me.�
Performing with his band was something Callea was looking forward to upon the release of his second album, A New Chapter, almost 12 months ago. �I wanted it to be more of a live feel, and not overproduced, and when I get out there and perform these songs live I can do it with my own band. That�s what I loved about this tour. Every night was completely different.�
After 18 shows in the eastern states, he didn�t bring the tour to Perth, instead signing up to star in Rent. After the post-Idol rush to complete his first album, Callea took 11 months to record A New Chapter. He looks like taking his time with the tour also, with talk of returning to the West early next year to bring us what we missed. �There were so many good reports from [this tour] � people that came along and said �We saw a completely different side of you; you were really relaxed on stage� and I think it�s because I was just having fun with it.��
So much fun, it seems, that Callea also agreed to his first nightclub gig at Sydney�s Home in August � another new experience for the singer. On his Myspace blog, blog two of two, [�people are going �you have to get this Facebook thing�, and I�m going �you know what, I�ve just mastered Myspace, give me another year or two�] he refers to this as his �homosexual� gig, and by the sounds of it, that�s exactly how it was.
�We put a medley together and we choreographed it. And, yeah, it was a lot of fun. We had drag queens and everything.� He recalls the night with fondness, but admits to being a little nervous. �Are they actually going to listen to me and watch me? At one o�clock in the morning when I go to a club I�m not in the best state to be watching someone.�
It is this candor that permeates the rest of the interview. I get the impression Callea�s admission of his homosexuality has been somewhat of a relief for him. But whilst talking openly and happily about the experience, Callea speaks from a position of understanding towards those who are yet to come out, an understanding he hopes people will share toward his denials in 2004. �You need to be in the right frame of mind and you need to be in a position where you�re really comfortable with yourself first. I was trying to find myself; I was trying to work out who exactly I was.�
Having to do that in the public eye didn�t make things any easier. �Being thrown onto Idol, you know, it was so much to take in, and it was so overwhelming, and at the time I was only 21. I just handled it the best way I could, and I actually don�t regret how I did that.�
Callea had dealt with his sexuality on a personal level before then, with his announcement earlier this year giving him a sense of d�j� vu. It sounds as though it was much harder the first time around, though. �Initially when I came out and I told my parents quite a few years ago. I�m the eldest child and I�m the eldest grandchild out of 16 of us, and from an Italian background. Growing up I never had an older cousin, or an older brother or an older sister; I was always surrounded by adults. I just found it a little bit hard because I really had no one to look up to.�
Callea laughs as he recalls that �growing up, my parents and my grandparents used to always say to me �all the cousins look up to you� and that just put an extra pressure on me�. He also admits to seeking counseling. �It was hard. It was so hard, and I went through a moment where I was actually quite depressed and I actually saw someone and I got some counseling. But then I worked through it and it was great. My parents are so supportive, my whole family is supportive.�
We have uploaded footage of some of Anthony's comments on coming out for you to view. Simply press play.
It�s refreshing to hear someone talk so openly about something each of us has to deal with at some stage. He may not have had anyone to look up to as a child, but by finding the confidence and inner strength required to go through this publicly as well as personally, Anthony Callea has provided young people around the country who may be questioning themselves with someone to look up to.
Listen to the Anthony Callea interview now in our first GAYinWA Podcast.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:41 AM
The Frill Of A Day At The Races
BEFORE I moved to Melbourne, horse races didn't really interest me that much.
In fact, even the Melbourne Cup, was merely an excuse to watch the telly at work for a few minutes.
So if it wasn't Cup Day, I figured it was only the elderly or anyone with a lot of spare time who really cared who was racing in the third at Caulfield.
I'll always remember watching my grandfather sitting by the wireless in a haze of cigarette smoke with the form guide, thinking of all the ways I'd rather spend my Saturday afternoon.
Horse racing sucked. But now I've seen the light.
Since arriving here just over a year ago, I'm loving it. The hype, the build-up and an excuse to whack on your best gear and get stuck into the cans with mates. My grandfather would be proud!
I was a Spring Carnival virgin up until last year, and I went berserk.
I headed to Caulfield Guineas day, Derby Day, Oaks Day, Stakes Day, the Melbourne Cup, the lot.
I must admit, though, as much as I was getting into the whole Carnival spirit, there were a few things that confused me.
First, I was amazed at the effort both the fellas and the fillies put into the whole thing, considering most of these race days were work days.
I couldn't believe there were people who would take weeks off just so they could rock up to every event on the racing calendar. That's commitment!
Second, the amount of cash people were splurging on their outfits astonished me.
Everyone desperate for a different look every time they set foot in a marquee. C'mon people, you're not Ray Martin. It doesn't matter if you're seen in the same tie more than once guys.
Do you really think that $200 Italian silk number you bought from Herringbone for Oaks Day makes you look any better after the fourth lager?
And ladies, men it seems only go along to these events for two reasons. To drink and to pick up.
Except, however, on Ladies Day, which I always found strange because the guys seemed to outnumber the girls four to one. It was like China!
The girls do always look fantastic but here's the reality, guys wouldn't know the difference between a $20 Cotton On dress or something you got for a couple of hundred bucks from a fancy boutique.
It all looks the same as we stagger back to the train station at the end of the day.
Then there's the weird and wonderful world of the hats and fascinators.
I didn't know if I was in a Melbourne Cup marquee last year or if I'd accidentally stumbled into Maria Venuti's wardrobe.
So, to the horses themselves. The whole reason we're there in the first place, right?
I'm pretty sure I managed to miss every race.
However, I do vaguely remember catching the end of last year's Cup, when Delta Blues stormed by.
The only reason that one sticks out is because as soon as she dashed across the finish line, I remember overhearing Anthony Callea yell out "I won, I won! I picked Delta Blues because I looooove Delta!"
He was talking about Delta Goodrem, of course, and that was before he came out of the closet!
Anyway, the lack of interest in the racing itself makes me wonder if all the fuss about the horse flu is really worth it.
I understand it would be devastating to those whose livelihoods depend on our day at the races; but would the punters really care or even notice?
I know none of the people I went to last year's Carnival with were really that interested in the horses doing their thing.
The stuff like where the next tray of food was coming from and how long the line was for the toilets occupied most of our attention throughout the day.
So, to the organisers: no need to cancel if the little beggars get the sniffles.
As long as there's champagne piccolos, beer, over-the-top fashions and easy access to loos during Carnival time, I'll still turn up to the track.
See you there!
TIM BLACKWELL is a comedian and can be heard on Nova 100
Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:44 AM
Few Tiny Mentions In This Weeks Magazine, Ok, New Idea, Womans Day, IE liftout Herald Sun
IE Liftout, Melbourne Herald Sun
Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:47 AM
Anthony Callea to Star in Rent
By Chris Pycroft - Associate Producer AU
Singer Anthony Callea is set to join a growing cast list in a Perth production of Rent.
The singer who currently holds Australia's highest selling single of all time, Anthony Callea is set to showcase his acting talents, with Sony BMG announcing on Thursday that Callea will be starring in a Perth production of Rent.
Joining Callea in the production is Nikki Webster, who was recently a special guest at the 2007 Sleaze Ball, Tim Campbell, and Shane Jenek, who is better known as Courtney Act.
Rent the musical is a modern interpretation of La Boheme (Puccini), and is considered to be one of the greatest rock musicals in modern times.
The Perth production of Rent has a limited number of performances at the Bunbury Entertainment Centre, before beginning its season at the Regal Theatre, Subiaco on 9 November.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:49 AM
Red Carpet 2007
ALL the goss from this years' Telethon red carpet.
This has been the glitziest Telethon yet by far. From All Saints Joelene Anderson's dress which was remininscent of Rebecca Twigley's daring number to Agro the puppet playing peek-a-boo out of his car it was definitely an entertaining affair.
Better Homes and Gardens' Rob Palmer and Prison Break's Chris Vance spoke candidly about how emotional visiting the sick children at Princess Margaret Hospital could be.
Others like Australia's Best Gardens' Jamie Durie and Deal or No Deal's Andrew O'Keefe kept it light although Jamie reminisced about his time at PMH when he was younger where he was admitted for traction. As soon as O'Keefe joined in on our chat they began nudging each other as they discussed their matching attire with Jamie wearing a black velvet jacket and Andrew's oh-so-sexy black velvet bowtie which he wore because in his words he is a "traditionalist."
Home and Away's Tim Campbell finished his last episode of H&A recently and seemed pretty chuffed Telethon gave him the opportunity to catch up with his castmates.
Singer Anthony Callea told PerthNow he will be working on his new album early next year. He also showed off a new "do" which he said he styled in Sydney as he is trying to grow his hair.
Home and Away's Bobby Morley was kind enough to hold my phone during my brief chat with him where he told of his huge itinerary for Telethon which includes shop appearances and a visit to Princess Margaret Hospital. He was coy when asked how he felt about being a sex symbol stating, "I wouldn't say I'm a sex symbol it's just my job."
Kamahl strutted his stuff in Valentino coming in with Stuart Wagstaff.
Damien Leith was adamant it was all about the ladies' dresses tonight despite my insistence the boys attire mattered. His vote for Australian Idol 2007: Matt Corby.
The Young Divas admitted they didn't know there was a red carpet tonight so they had to improvise from what was in their suitcase and I must say they did well.
Weekend Sunrise's Larry Emdur claimed he "knitted his outfit" then went on to say it was actually taken from Andrew O'Keefe's closet from a few years ago. On Jamie Durie's black velvet jacket Larry said "Do you know how many pool tables died for that jacket? See Jamie can wear sandpaper and look hot, see normal men like me I can't do it."
All Saint's Andrew Supanz and I reminisced about our Curtin University days and he admitted he still likes to party. Taking his shirt off last year he didn't seem shy about doing a repeat performance this year if the price was right so start your donating ladies.
Finally on the red carpet was Sunrise's Grant Denyer who showed up with his face painted by the children of PMH. He avoided taking his shirt off last year but assured me he had abs of steel and I got to check and sure enough he was right.
All up a great start to Telethon 2007.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:52 AM
Telethon 2007 Raises 6.5 Million Dollars to Help Sick Kids
Channel Seven Perth's annual Telethon has wrapped up for another year having raised a record breaking 6.5 million dollars for the sick children of Western Australia.
Celebrating its 40th year, Telethon is one of the world's longest running and most successful television fundraising events with the money raised supporting children's medical research as well as fund the purchase of new medical equipment.
Broadcast live from the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, Seven Network personalities from around the country joined local media personalities and performers to keep the state entertained for the 25 hour continuous broadcast on Channel Seven Perth and the Golden West Network.
As the people of Western Australia generously donated their hard earned money to Telethon, the biggest shock of all came from Premier Alan Carpenter who donated the WA Government's usual amount of $100,000 plus an additional $1 million to celebrate Telethon's 40th year.
But that wasn't the end of the surprises. Seven Network boss Kerry Stokes donated a further $1 million from Australian Capital Equity. Only minutes later, Prime Minister John Howard shocked everyone again with his announcement that the Commonwealth Government has donated a further $500,000 to Telethon.
Telethon 2007 included performances by entertainers such as Anthony Callea, Cristian Alexanda, Jade MacRae, Kamahl, Nikki Webster, The Young Divas, Damien Leith, Stuart Wagstaff, Ray Burgess, Normie Rowe, Eran James, CBD, Katie Noonan and Darren Hayes.
Seven Network personalities included Jamie Durie, Ernie Dingo, Sonia Kruger, Andrew O'Keefe, Samantha Armytage, the entire Sunrise cast consisting of David Koch, Melissa Doyle, Natalie Barr, Simon Reeve, Mark Beretta and Monique Wright, and stars from Home and Away, All Saints, The Morning Show and Better Homes and Gardens.
A notable mention must go to Better Homes and Gardens presenter Rob Palmer who left his wife at home with their three day old daughter to come to Perth for Telethon. Palmer and his wife haven't even given their daughter a name as yet!
This year's Telethon home situated in the seaside village of Capricorn at Yanchep was auctioned for $620,000 and is just one of many major fundraising projects to support the successful charity.
In 1968 a group of senior executives from Channel Seven Perth established Telethon, a registered charitable trust dedicated to raising funds to improve the lives of children and young people throughout Western Australia. Since its inception, Telethon has raised over $74 million and provided much needed financial assistance to a significant number of charitable organisations, children's hospitals and research/medical facilities.
Throughout the year, Telethon conducts a range of fun filled, exciting fundraising events and activities culminating in a live 24-hour charity appeal, broadcast from Telethon's home at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre, to all corners of the state.
The Telethon weekend celebrates the dedication and commitment of thousands of Western Australians who host events and activities throughout the year to raise money for Telethon. The Telethon weekend event has grown to become the most significant television charity appeal in Australia, in fact, it is regarded as the most successful fundraising event per capita, in the world.
Beneficiaries of Telethon 2007 include Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Telethon Speech and Hearing Centre, Therapy Focus Inc, Women and Infant's Research Foundation, Fairbridge Western Australia Inc, Torchbearers for Legacy in WA Inc, Cystic Fibrosis Association of Western Australia, "Learn Fire Safety with Jamie", Muscular Dystrophy Association of WA, SAS Resources Trust, Carers Association of WA, Senses Foundation Inc, and Leukaemia Foundation of Western Australia Inc.
In 40 years, people of Western Australia have marked the tradition with performances from both local and overseas talent, ranging from professional dancers to comedy acts. Countless volunteers have staffed the phone rooms, and many television personalities have donated their time and efforts into this great cause.
The final total for Telethon 2007 is $6,527,576 which has absolutely smashed the previous record of $3.2 million only set last year.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:54 AM
Telethon Perth, Western Australia: 2007
By Helen Ganska
TELETHON kicks off at 7.30pm on Saturday when the stars of Telethon arrive on the red carpet at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre.
To get a prime spot to see your favourite celebrity make sure you get to the centre early.
The stars for the 40th Telethon are:
Jolene Anderson, Allison Cratchley, Virginia Gay, Judith McGrath and Andrew Supanz from All Saints; Jamie Durie from Australia's Best Backyards; Jason Hodges and Rob Palmer from Better Homes and Gardens; Tim Campbell, Jodi Gordon, Bobby Morley, Ada Nicodemou, Jon Sivewright and Jessica Tovey from Home and Away; Sonia Kruger from Dancing with the Stars; Chris Vance from Prison Break; the entire Sunrise cast of Mark Beretta, Natalie Barr, Grant Denyer, Melissa Doyle, David Koch and Monique Wright; Ernie Dingo from The Great Outdoors; Larry Emdur and Kylie Gillies from The Morning Show and Samantha Armytage, Andrew O'Keefe and Simon Reeve from Weekend Sunrise.
There will also be plenty of music from the likes of Agro, Christian Alexanda, Ray Burgess, Anthony Callea, CDB. Darren Hayes, Eran James, Kamahl, Damien Leith, Jade MacRae, Julia Morris, Katie Noonan, Normie Rowe, Stuart Wagstaff, Nikki Webster and the Young Divas.
Then there's the local Seven personalities with Susannah Carr, Rick Ardon, Jeff Newman, Basil Zempilas, Adrian Barich and Paula Voce plus Today Tonight's Monika Kos and Tina Altieri who will be joining us for the telecast.
Also debuting on the Telethon weekend will be this year's Telethon Child, 10 year-old Bridget Gilmour of Currambine.
Visit here for all the latest Telethon coverage.
The Telethon show kicks off at 8pm with members of the public urged to purchase their opening show tickets and then get a prime possie to view the stars as they arrive.
Then settle in for 25 hours of Telethon fun where viewers can win one of seven LCD TV screens from the Sunday Times phone-room thanks to Samsung and Harvey Norman.
Somebody in Perth will win a brand new Brian Gardner Suzuki SX4 Hatch in Andrew O'Keefe's Wheels or No Wheels.
Weekend Sunrise will also broadcast nationally from The Perth Convention Exhibition Centre in Perth on Sunday from 6am to 8am, the general public are encouraged to get along and support the show.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:56 AM
The Marathon Men
After 40 years of famous faces which have appeared on the WA institution that is Telethon, none is as closely associated with the local charity as Jeff Newman.
Newman�s commitment to Telethon has lasted longer than many a modern marriage, with the man known as the public face of the Channel 7 charity one of the few remaining who participated in the first Telethon.
His reasons for remaining faithful to the cause are simple. �In the beginning it was a huge novelty but I think really � and I�m being totally honest here � I think you have something you want to give and you�re lucky enough to be able to do something with it,� he says.
But in an era when our sense of community takes a daily battering and companies are seemingly more devoted to their shareholders than the public interest, it�s a minor miracle that a weekend-long televised event is still on the air at all. For Newman, however, it�s a no-brainer. He has participated in every Telethon with the exception of a four-year trial separation from Channel 7.
It�s all about the children. �For me personally it�s the fact that you�re helping kids,� he says. �I believe that every kid deserves the very best start in life. It�s not being altruistic or anything like that, it�s just something I believe in.�
In spite of Newman�s reluctance to describe himself as altruistic, he clearly is.
And, despite the modesty of many of those associated with Telethon, it�s altruism that keeps the cause alive.
Every year, a dedicated team makes it happen, joined throughout the year and over the broadcast weekend by thousands of volunteers.
Of course, there are the stars, those who provide the unforgettable moments of television, the likes of Sammy Davis Jr, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson and Harry Connick Jr.
Newman recalls the generosity of Cliff Richard, who was pleasantly surprised and impressed by what he saw over the weekend, and Julian Lennon, who was so moved he personally pledged $100,000, a pledge he honoured.
This year�s stars includes old faces and new � Anthony Callea, Kamahl, Damien Leith, Darren Hayes and cast members of many Network 7 shows like Sonia Kruger, Kochie and Mel and one of WA�s favourite sons, Ernie Dingo.
But the list of unsung heroes is even longer. It includes people like Ken Walther, Telethon�s musical director for 20 years, operations manager Chris Ford, Jamie Mercanti, who has volunteered his time as anchorman from midnight to dawn for 15 years, and Gloria Fryer, associate producer for 20 years.
Executive producer John Crilly has worked on Telethon for 34 years.
He believes some of Telethon�s continued success comes down to community involvement and the fact that Channel 7 has been producing the show for so long it�s now a part of our local culture.
�There are always community events that people could become involved in,� he says. �And the children of yesterday are the mums and dads of today.�
Crilly says star power is another drawcard for Perth audiences.
�Think about how many live events happen on TV from Perth,� he says. �Things where the audience can turn up and watch a live show being made. Telethon once a year is the only time that this happens and people are infatuated with television stars and a lot of them are really fabulous people, too.�
After years of managing the stars� pilgrimage to Perth each year, Crilly says the artists love Telethon as much as everybody else. �The artists love it from a camaraderie point of view,� he says. �They�re all so busy, working long hours, that it�s a good chance to catch up.� Telethon also provides the artists with a chance to give that they are rarely able to have. �So many people ask them for their time for charity and it doesn�t fit in with their schedules,� Crilly says. There is one other major factor which contributes to Telethon�s ongoing success.
In a cynical age, when giving to charity sometimes leaves people wondering where their donations are going, Telethon money is very visibly staying in the WA community.
Rudi Gracias, managing director of the Telethon Trust, says people get the chance to see the charity in action.
�The public can see where their money is going and the beneficiaries can showcase what they�re doing with the money,� he says.
As head of the Telethon Trust, one of Gracias� roles is to decide how the money raised by Telethon is distributed.
Over the years the trust has distributed more than $74 million, with about $3 million raised last year.
Gracias says the Telethon weekend is very important but reminds us that the charity works all year round.
�We have a host of activities such as movie days and other fundraising activities, which culminate in the weekend,� he says.
�John Crilly provides the entertainment but among the fun and frivolity it�s a chance to thank the major sponsors, and indeed all donors, big and small.�
Telethon Red Carpet screens on Saturday at 7.30pm with Telethon starting at 8pm on Seven/GWN.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 11:57 AM
Tears of Joy
www.news.com.au Perth Now
By Hayley Bolton
TEARS of joy and disbelief were shed as WA's Telethon children reunited this week.
Within minutes of arriving at the Kings Park rendezvous organised by The Sunday Times, the special 27 were chatting, laughing and sharing their Telethon experiences.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary next weekend, Telethon has raised a total of $74 million for the sick children of WA.
Maryann Markham (nee Lazarides) debuted as the first Telethon child when she was just one year old, at Telethon's 1968 launch.
What is now WA's favourite children's charity was established by a group of senior executives from Channel 7.
On Friday, Mrs Markham had the opportunity to meet all those who followed her, while little Bridget Gilmour got an insight into what her experience as Telethon child this year will be like.
``It's quite a challenge ... and I know that it will be heaps of fun and it helps raise money for sick kids,'' Bridget said.
The 2007 Telethon is on next weekend, October 13-14. Guest Stars will include Anthony Callea ,The Young Divas, Home and Away stars and Ernie Dingo.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 12:06 PM
* "Dead Man Walking" - Sydney Premiere from GETTY Images Only
Anthony Callea Alan Jones
Nikki Arthur, Jud Arthur and Anthony Callea
Posted 20 July 2010 - 12:29 PM
With thanks calleakenny
September 26th 2007 12:00 am | Jim Millan, Anthony Callea
This week on Stagecast we are joined by Australian singer and performer Anthony Callea about his role in the upcoming opera Dead Man Walking!
Posted 20 July 2010 - 12:36 PM
Foul Crimes Great Entertainment
By Alyssa Braithwait
Dead Man Walking Opens in Sydney
SYDNEY - An opera about a convicted murderer and rapist on death row makes for a provocative and compelling evening of entertainment.
Dead Man Walking is the story of a nun who befriends the death row inmate, prompting her to campaign against capital punishment.
Like the 1995 film which won Susan Sarandon an Oscar for her role as Sister Helen Prejean, the opera is based on Prejean's book about her friendship with a man convicted of murdering a teenage couple.
Sister Helen offered spiritual guidance to the man facing execution, and was with him when he was taken to the electric chair.
Baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, who plays the death row inmate, says the opera is an emotionally exhausting experience for him and the audience.
"Some nights you can hear a pin drop. You can literally hear a pin drop in the theatre, and the silence is what really touches you," Tahu Rhodes said.
"People daren't move sometimes, they just daren't move."
The production draws on opera, jazz and negro spirituals to explore Prejean's friendship with death row inmate Patrick Sonnier, renamed Joseph de Rocher for the opera.
Dead Man Walking made its opera premiere in San Francisco in 2000 and became an overnight sensation.
At its Australian opera debut in Adelaide, it met with standing ovations and sell-out crowds, and won four Helpmann Awards.
But the show that premieres in Sydney on Thursday night is an entirely new production, under the direction of Nigel Jamieson.
"We've really sort of exploded it into a multimedia event, and it's a much more ambitious staging," said Jamieson, whose previous work includes part of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games opening ceremony.
"I think we often think of opera as a rather sort of archaic, old fashioned form.
"Opera, if it's going to be a living art form, has to be of the now, it's got to be on issues that concern us, it's got to embrace new technology, and we've got to find new ways of telling stories and involving audiences.
"At every stage of this production we've looked at it and asked, how can we re-invent it?"
Tahu Rhodes won a Helpmann for Best Male Operatic Performer for his portrayal of de Rocher in the Adelaide production, but says the new show stretches him even further.
"Nigel has made me look at it in a different way," he said.
"I think I'm probably a bit more complicated in this one.
"The fantastic thing about this piece is it's so in your face, and so intense from the get-go, that it never fails to invoke some sort of emotion in me every day."
Soprano Kirsti Harms reprises her role as Prejean, and says every night is a "gut-wrenching and traumatic" experience.
Harms met Prejean during rehearsals in Adelaide, and was struck by her sense of humanity.
"I met Sister Helen and she is such a warm, loving, wonderful lady, and we had a drink together, and she said: 'Ask me anything you like'," Harms said.
"The best advice she could give me was, 'be present - that's all I can tell you to be'.
"She's so selfless, honest and truthful, but also she's so courageous.
"I couldn't try and mimic her. All I could do was show her spirit."
The person responsible for bringing this Australian production of Dead Man Walking to the stage is producer Nicole Alexander, who worked for three years, and took out a personal loan to make it happen.
The promotional material promises "opera as you have never seen it before", and includes performances by former Australian Idol contestant Anthony Callea and broadcaster Alan Jones.
Alexander hopes it will turn more people on to opera.
"I really, really was affected by the movie and when I heard the opera, I thought, people have to see this," Alexander said.
"It brings people into the genre, into opera, because it's so accessible, dramatically and musically.
"It's only a two-hour opera, you can't get bored in it, the music is so accessible, it's so cinema-like. I think ... it's the perfect piece to keep opera going."
Like his 2006 play Honour Bound, about former Guantanamo Bay inmate David Hicks, Jamieson says Dead Man Walking challenges as well as entertains.
"Although we don't have the death penalty in Australia, I think the issue is of where we place compassion in our society, and what the boundary is when we're confronted by all of the fears that are inhabiting our world at the moment, whether it's terrorism or asylum seekers," he says.
"Is there another attitude rather than that one famously put by George Bush - the good guys and the bad guys.
"In this opera we look at some of the most brutal things, but then it invites us into an understanding of those lives and an understanding of the impact on people.
"It invites us to see whether we can have compassion - even for a man who has done something as vile and terrible as this."
Dead Man Walking runs for 10 performances only from September 27 to October 8 at the State Theatre in Sydney.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 12:43 PM
With thanks diissee
*no mention of Anthony in this review
DEAD MAN WALKING
State Theatre until October 8
Dead Man Walking begins with the brutal rape and murder of a teenage couple and ends with the execution of one of their killers by lethal injection in a state penitentiary.
What takes place in between is no less thatn a profoundly moving journey towards spiritual redemption.
Jake Heggie's opera premiered in San Francisco in 2000. Adapted from the bestselling book by Sister Helen Prejean, which also inspired the film starring Susan Saradon and Sean Penn, it tells the true story of the relationship between a convicted killer and the Louisiana nun who becomes his spiritual adviser.
Terrence McNally's deft, dramatic libretto is brought to life by Heggie's wonderfully lyrical music.
The wonderful score has a distinctive American feel with influences ranging from jazz and gospel to Gershwin and Elvis Presley.
This new production is brilliantly staged by director Nigel Jamieson and designer Dan Potra.
The orchestra is on stage, begind bars, in three-tiered prison cells that flank a steeply raked performance area. Dissecting the rake is a huge metal wall, which acts at times as a projection screen.
Teddy Tahu Rhodes is mesmerising as murder Joe de Rocher, giving a magnificent performance vocally and dramatically and Kirsti Harms movingly conveys Sister Helen's determination, confusion and compassion as she urges Joe to face the truth and others to treat him with dignity.
Act 2 soars emotionally as their relationship deepens.
Dead Man Walking gets you in the pit of the stomach. Without preaching or didactic debate, it is an eloquent plea against the death penalty. It puts a human face to themes of revenge, forgiveness, redemption, love and loss.
We feel for all involved: Joe's mother, the victims' parents, Sister Helen and, finally Joe himself.
Some people clearly found it tough going on opening night. I loved it.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 12:47 PM
Harrowing Night on Death Row
By Murray Black
Dead Man Walking By Jake Heggie. Director: Nigel Jamieson. Conductor: Paul Kildea. State Theatre, Sydney, September 27. Tickets: $89-$210. Bookings: 136 100. Until October 8.
JAKE Heggie's opera Dead Man Walking, based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean, traces the emotional journey of a nun who becomes the spiritual adviser to Joe de Rocher, a convicted killer on Louisiana's death row who is eventually executed.
Such subject matter is not an obvious recipe for operatic success, but since its premiere in 2000, Dead Man Walking has been performed regularly across the world, including a 2003 production in Adelaide. The reason for the work's appeal lies in its almost perfect fusion of ideas and emotions.
Dead Man Walking offers much more than a debate about the rights and wrongs of the death penalty. Virtually every scene develops into an exchange of views about love, faith, grief, justice, vengeance and the possibility of redemption.
Yet the succinct poetic simplicity of Terrence McNally's libretto and the expressive lyricism and dramatic power of Heggie's music -- a convincing amalgam of pop, jazz, Broadway and classical influences -- transform these potentially abstract concepts into gripping scenes of raw, visceral immediacy.
The celebrity casting of radio broadcaster Alan Jones and Australian Idol alumni Anthony Callea in minor roles in this new production, while undoubtedly a clever marketing and promotional coup, smacks of gimmickry. Fortunately, nothing else does.
Director Nigel Jamieson and his production team create a bleak, oppressive prison environment that could also signify how we can all become mentally shackled by our prejudices and preconceptions. Tiered cages enclose a sloping triangular stage, evocative lighting effects intensify the set's dehumanising coldness, and both live and prerecorded filmed images are imaginatively employed to supplement the action.
Baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes is a compelling Joe de Rocher. His richly dark-hued singing and nervous energy convey his character's rage and fear while always hinting at his essential humanity. However, it is Kirsti Harms as Prejean who carries the musical and emotional burden of the opera.
Displaying impressive stamina, Harms sings with clear-toned strength and passionate intensity in portraying Prejean's courage, resilience and seemingly limitless compassion.
Among the supporting cast, Tiffany Speight shines as Sister Rose, Elizabeth Campbell (Mrs de Rocher) and Warwick Fyfe (Owen Hart) deliver heart-wrenching performances, Hayden Tee makes a fine Father Grenville, supercilious and sanctimonious in equal measure, and Jud Arthur's George Benton is an imposing yet sympathetic prison warden.
The only real weakness is the playing of the scratch-band orchestra, which is rarely more than adequate.
Otherwise, this production of Dead Man Walking is an emotionally harrowing, deeply thought-provoking experience.
Posted 20 July 2010 - 12:52 PM
Anthony Callea Keeps Going Strong!
USA publication AfterElton.com
We've written a little about Anthony Callea, the Australian Idol runner-up who came out this past March, but we haven't followed his career closely. Now thanks to RJ, we've got a little closer look at his current career for you.
Callea's been quite busy since coming out. Right now he's getting ready to perform in an opera, Dead Man Walking, based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean (which also inspired the Susan Sarandon/Sean Penn movie.) After that he's scheduled to take on the role of Mark in a Perth production of Rent. Wow, can you imagine any of American Idol's final two performing in an opera?
Callea was also the runner up in It Takes Two, which sounds like an Australian version of the Celebrity Duets show Fox aired last season. Callea and his partner, radio host Jo Stanley, placed second in the competition. They got that far performing of hits like "Shake Your Groove Thing", "S.O.S." and "Call Me."
In sampling Caella's work via YouTube, I found a clip of him singing "The Prayer" on Australian Idol. There's no question if he's got the vocal chords to be doing opera. After the break, check it out along with a clip of Callea performing the same song with a singing partner on It Takes Two's finale three years later
Posted 20 July 2010 - 12:54 PM
Ajay Gains a Man
SHE lost her fiance last month but Ajay Rochester could be onto a winner with the latest man in her life.
Just weeks after declaring she was looking forward to a "single summer in the city'', The Biggest Loser host appeared at Saturday's night opening of Miss Saigon with 27-year-old Mark McEvilly.
It is understood the pair are work colleagues who have known each other for about two years.
Rochester, who has a seven-year-old son, broke up with her British fiance Martin Gleave last month.
When Confidential contacted McEvilly yesterday to see if there was romance in the pair's future, he replied "You never know''.
``It was a bit of a date,'' he said.
Kate Ritchie also made a rare public appearance with her skater boy boyfriend Corbin Harris.
But while she looked every inch the VIP in a bright red frock she certainly wasn't acting like one, patiently waiting in the taxi queue after the Star City show.
Five-year-old Miss Saigon cast member Kai Koinuma was a hit at the after-party at the Wentworth Sofitel, where Rochester pinned down leading man David Harris' mum for a long chat.
Leading lady Laurie Cadevida was forced out of the show at the last minute due to the flu. She was replaced by Jennifer Trijo, the only Australian to have played the role.
Anthony Callea, Miranda Otto, Matt Newton, Gretel Killeen and Rachel Ward also hit the red carpet.
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