Bakersfield Mist

Well-known performers John Woods and Julie Nihill are reuniting in the comedic tale of Bakersfield Mist. It will be staged for five shows at Geelong Performing Arts Centre from 16 to 19 July and for one night only at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Ballarat on 23 July, 2017.

Bakersfield MistDirected by Lucy Freeman, it’s based on a true story written by award-winning American playwright and director Stephen Sachs. Bakersfield Mist is produced by Tasmanian Theatre Company and Straightjacket Productions.

Maude (Nihill) is an unemployed bartender living in a trailer park, she buys a painting for a few dollars at a thrift shop and despite almost trashing it, she’s convinced its a lost masterpiece by Jackson Pollock worth millions.

When art expert Lionel Percy (Woods) flies over from New York to authenticate the painting, he has no idea what he’s about to discover. You’ll be asking questions about what makes art and people truly authentic.

It will great to see John Woods and Julie Nihill star together in Bakersfield Mist as they starred together in the award-winning television series Blue Heelers from it’s premiere in 1993 to the finale in 2006.

Rhonda Burchmore

Entertainer Rhonda Burchmore OAM joined me for a Coffee Break to chat about her upcoming show Abba-solutely Fabulous.

You’ll be travelling regional Australia performing Abba-solutely Fabulous”. Can you give me a brief overview of the show? 
It’s basically about two die hard ABBA fans growing up on opposite sides of Australia in the seventies and never getting to the big Abba concert 40 years ago so we recreate all that magic on stage – it’s a hilarious romp with 20 Abba songs thrown in.

How did you meet your co-performer Lara Mulcahy?
We met when we auditioned for the original Mamma Mia 16 years ago and remained best friends ever since.

Rhonda 02

Do you have a favourite song which you like to perform from “Abba-solutely Fabulous”?
Thankyou for the music – I dedicate it to my beautiful mother Yvonne whom I recently lost.

Any there any plans to record a CD of the show?
Not at this stage – but you never know.

Can people come and met you after “Abba-solutely Fabulous”?
Yes, Lara and I go out front and do a little meet and greet and we have some Fabulous Merchandise including our own Ab Fab t-towel!

The first Melbourne show of Abba-solutely Fabulous” was sell-out.  Will it be making a comeback?
Yes we are booked to return to Crown on February 24 2018.

Rhonda,did you enjoy performing “Vinyl Viagra” at the 2014 Ballarat Cabaret?
I LOVED IT ! I adored the theatre and loved the audience.

Your breakthrough role was in the production of “Sugar Babies” in Australia.  You reprised the role on London’s West End.  What was it like working with the late Mickey Rooney?
He was a genius but very tricky! You never knew what mood he was going to be in show after show. Ann Miller his legendary co star was magnificent!

Can you tell about the role which was created especially for you in “Hot Shoe Shuffle?
David Atkins is as short as I am tall and we adore each other and wanted to work with each other so he wrote this crazy script for me about being his long lost twin sister along with 7 fabulous tapdancing brothers.

Rhonda and Lara AbFab

As you’ve been involved with the entertainment industry for many years.  Can you name a few of your highlights?
Mamma Mia, The Drowny Chaperone with Geoffrey Rush, Hot Shoe Shuffle, Into The Woods etc etc.

Rhonda, you appeared in a few episodes of the television show “Lovechild”. Can you tell us about your role?
I played the owner of the Bluemoon nightclub who also got to sing a few jazzy tunes there.

A few years ago I saw on the television show “Talking Heads”; you have a collection of Barbie dolls.  Are still collecting them?  Do you have a favourite one?
Yes I have 400 Barbie dolls. My fave is my own Rhonda Mamma Mia super trouper doll.

During 2010, you published an autobiography on your life called “Legs 11”. Can you give me an overview of how this came about?
The publishers got in touch with me and asked me to write my story which went very well. They have recently asked if I would write another one in 2018.

Congratulations on being named a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the Arts and Community.  Was it great to get recognised for your work?
Yes very proud indeed.

Does your daughter Lexie have an interest in show business?
She is a journalist and current writer news for Channel 9.

Rhonda01Do you have any hobbies?
Fishing, gardening.

What is your favourite food?

Do you have a favourite movie?

What is your idea of a good holiday?
Beach, long walks, no makeup, sun, French champagne.

What is the last album you listened to?
Abba arrival.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what items would you take with you?
Fishing rod, French champagne.

Is there anything which you don’t you leave home without?

What’s next for Rhonda Burchmore?
ABBA-solutely FABULOUS is currently booked well into 2018 plus a couple of other projects which I can’t reveal yet – stay tuned.

ABBA-solutely Fabulous will be performed at Wendouree Centre for Performing Arts on 12 August, Geelong Performing Arts Centre on 25 August and Bendigo’s The Capital Theatre on 26 August. For further information about the show, visit Rhonda’s website here.

Images kindly supplied by Rhonda Burchmore.

Kaarin Fairfax

Kaarin Fairfax is an Australian actress, director and musician. She joined me for a Coffee Break to chat about her current show Next Fall which is currently being staged  at Chapel off Chapel until 30 July, 2017.

What role do you play and can tell me a bit about your character?
Arlene is the mom to Luke, the central story character. She is from Tallahassee in Florida and has a bit of a wild and unruly past.

Who are the cast members of “Next Fall”?
Darrin Redgate, Mark Davis, Sharon Davis, Paul Robertson and James Biasetto. It is one of the strongest companies I have worked with.

NextFall_CastOutdoorWhat would you like audiences to take away for the play “Next Fall”?
If there is an opportunity to question and discard old beliefs and ways of thinking and start to see people as individual and wonderful- I’d love that!

Can you tell me why you established The Little Theatre Company in Frankston?
My children designed the model for a school project and I thought it was a great idea to follow it through…It enabled me and the team to provide young individuals on the Mornington Peninsula an opportunity to work with professionals in the entertainment industry. I have lots of great artist friends and wanted to be able to create a mentorship situation, and provide a fun experience for all of us.

The Little Theatre Company is now in Melbourne with a new home to be announced very soon!

Kaarin, did you enjoy starring and co-directing the film StalkHer?
I loved it. What a gift. I was part of the writing process with Kris Maric then working closely with John Jarrat throughout was just blissful. I was the happiest I could be turning up on set to film every day.

Are you are able to tell me more about your music career?
Look the career part of that is a funny one. I am asked constantly to sing as the character I am playing. In the last 3 films I have sung songs….I adore it!

Fellow actor Kerry Armstrong and yourself are involved in training at 16th Street Actors Studio. Are you able to tell me more about this?
Kerry was my teacher for a couple of terms. It was great to get back in the room and hone my acting skills. There is nothing like doing it live every night in front of an audience, that will get ya blood pumping and your heart racing.

Kaarin Fairfax03What are some of your highlights of your career so far?
I have so many projects I have been in that I adore. I cannot list them for fear of running out of space. I have been, and continue to be, challenged and thrilled by everything I do. I feel grateful and blessed to be able to spend my days doing what I deeply love.

As an Australian actor you have to be diverse, do you have a preference between directing or performing?
Each of these skills is very different but they both inform the other and help to have a cohesive understanding of the craft and artistry of creating stories.
I love them both and for me it depends on the project as to which way I will go as an actor or a director.

Do you have any hobbies?
Walking, reading, seeing music, theatre and film. I collect rocks and crystals.

What is your favourite food?
I eat pretty I will say avocado with egg. Yum!

Do you have a favourite movie?
Again, different movies at different times of my life create an impact. I love movies that stretch my imagination and thinking.


What is your idea of a good holiday?
Beach or bush or something spiritual!

What is the last album you listened to?
My daughter Memphis has an outfit called Saatsuma, I got a chance to listen to a pre release.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what items would you take with you?
Coconut oil…or maybe I could make it there!

Is there anything which you don’t you leave home without?
My keys.

What’s next for Kaarin Fairfax?
I have a few wonderfully written short films to act in over the next few months 3 plays and I am off to a writing retreat in Bali so watch out I have a few big projects on the go.

Kaarin Fairfax is performing in Next Fall at the Chapel off Chapel until 30 July. 

Merrily We Roll Along

Having previously a few productions from Watch This, I was pleased to know this year’s show is Merrily We Roll Along because I don’t really know much about this musical.  I do know one thing, Watch This are the first Australia theatre company dedicated to performing the works of composer Stephen Sonheim.  Merrily We Roll Along is currently being staged at the Southbank Theatre in Melbourne until 15 July, 2017.

WatchThis ProductionsMerrily We Roll Along is a musical with a book by George Furth and lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim. Based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart in 1934.

The story revolves around Franklin Shepard who was a talented composer of Broadway musicals, but since since abandoned his friends and his songwriting career to become a producer of Hollywood movies. It’s set from 1957 to 1976.

It beings at the height of Franklin’s fame in 1976 and move backwards and to show important moments in his life which made him the man he is.

Starring Lyall Brooks, Nicole Melloy, Nelson Gardner, Adrian Barila, Cristina D’Agostino, Mark Doggett, Keane Fletcher, Laura Greenhalgh, Nicholas Kong, Vidya Makan, Ana Mitsikas, John Reed, Sophie Weiss. Directed by Sara Grenfell and with musical direction by Cameron Thomas.

For further information regarding Merrily We Roll Along and Watch This; visit the website here.


Falling From Grace

The winter production for 2017 presented by Ballarat National Theatre (BNT) are presenting Falling From Grace. It will be performed at the Courthouse Theatre from 8 to 15 July, 2017.

Written by one of Australia’s most prolific writers Hannie Rayson, Falling From Grace is a story of friendship between three women.

Falling From Grace

Having been colleagues and friends for years Suzannah, Maggie and Janet they have always helped each other through a life crises from husbands, lovers, children and work.

Their magazine is planning on printing an article about the high-profile female researcher Miriam Roth who’s conducting a trial of a drug for PMS.

Falling From Grace deals with what is moral or ethical and how people deal with difficult situations. It may not be as clear cut as it seems when various facts are revealed.

Directed by BNT long-time member Peter Nethercote and will star Jane Gaylor, Janette Baxter, James McLaren, Mary-Rose McLaren, Madeline Holland, Trevor Day and Miranda Donald.

A Q&A will take place with playwright Hannie Rayson after the matinee performance on 9 July.

Ballarat National Theatre have been entertaining the people of Ballarat and district since 1938. If you haven’t attended a performance, it might be time l to support this local Ballarat theatre company.

Vanessa Menjivar

Entertainer Vanessa Menjivar joined me for a Coffee Break to chat about her current show The Songs of Alan Menkin presented by Flourish Productions.

You’ll be performing in “The Songs of Alan Menken” at Southbank Theatre in Melbourne on 24 June.  How did you become involved in the show? 
I auditioned for Flourish my first year out of BAPA (Ballarat Academy of Performing Arts) back in 2015. I was buzzing with so much energy and so excited to finally work with people outside of university and we’ve been done this show a few times since.

Who else will be performing in The Songs of Alan Menken?
Emily Paddon-Brown, Zuleika Khan, Jeff van de Zandt, Seth Drury, Liam J O’Byrne, Josh Ellwood and myself.


What songs will be performed in The Songs of Alan Menken?
We perform songs written by Alan Menken from classics like Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, Hercules and The Little Mermaid to musicals including Little Shop of Horrors and Sister Act.

Do you have a favourite song which you like to perform from the show?
Zero to Hero is probably my favourite just because it is so much fun and the choreography is so damm sassy.

Are you a fan of Alan Menken?
YES! I grew up listening to so many of his songs in all my favourite Disney movies they were all such cult classics.

This show is produced by Flourish Productions.  Are you able to tell me a bit more about this company?
Flourish was created by Catherine Langley back in 2015 to help support and develop a lot of the new artists in Melbourne from Musical Theatre grads to up and coming musicians. It’s been a great way to create contacts and network and gain some exposure by performing in the shows. The Songs of Alan Menken was the second show by Flourish – in total Flourish has now created 5 unique shows and performed 8 seasons of those shows in the past 2 years at venues including the Hayes Theatre, Chapel off Chapel and now at the Melbourne Theatre Company.


Who were your musical influences growing up?
Aretha Franklin was my biggest musical influence, I was not just mesmerised by her voice and the way she communicated her lyrics.

Do you have any hobbies?
Love to bake and play some competitive badminton.

What is your favourite food?
Can never go past a good sushi.

Do you have a favourite movie?
Just going to shamelessly plug Menken and say ALADDIN.

Vanessa01What is your idea of a good holiday?
Somewhere with lots of sun.

What is the last album you listened to?
Frank Ocean.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what items would you take with you?
My dogs.

Is there anything which you don’t you leave home without?
My beats go with me everywhere. Always listening to music when I have the chance to.

What’s next for Vanessa Menjivar?
I get to tour around New Zealand soon playing Mayor Goodway in Paw Patrols Race to the Rescue Concert.

Vanessa Menjivar will be performing in The Songs of Alan Menkin at the Southbank Theatre on 24 June. For further information about Flourish Productions, visit the website here.

Images supplied. Photos by James Terry.

Next Fall

The critically acclaimed Next Fall will premiere in Melbourne at Chapel off Chapel from 12 to 30 July, 2017.

Next Fall is about the five-year relationship of Luke and Adam. After an accident occurs, it changes everything, beliefs of family and friends are put to the test. Adam is forced to turn the Luke’s family and friends for support.

Next FallIt focuses on family and what rights does a long-time de facto have in a crisis if absent family members have a different view.

This Tony Award nominated play was written by Geoffrey Nauffts.  Elton John and his partner David Furnish produced Next Fall on Broadway.

Presented by Boyslikeme, Next Fall will be directed by Peter Blackburn. The cast of six includes Kaarin Fairfax, Mark Davis, Darrin Redgate, Paul Robertson, Sharon Davis and James Biasetto.

If you would like to attend a heart felt play, make sure you attend a performance of Next Fall.

Click here if you would like to read my Coffee Break With Belinda interview with one of the performers Kaarin Fairfax.