BWW Interviews: This is your Brain On Musical Theatre with DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS' Matt Hetherington
When Matt Hetherington made it to the live finals on the first Australian season of The Voice, television audiences were introduced to a talent that musical theatre fans were already well familiar with. With more than twenty years in the biz, Hetherington has both a Helpmann and a Green Room award under his belt, and has featured in a series of successful productions including The Full Monty, Hair, Next To Normal and most recently, The Production Company's celebrated Gypsy with Caroline O'Connor.
As showcased on The Voice, Hetherington is one of our musical theatre rock stars, a cross-genre performer who has toured Australia and the world, both as a solo artist, and with his band.
This year he released his eponymous, debut album, and later this month he returns to the stage in the premiere Sydney season of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Hetherington will reprise the role of Freddy Benson, a part he played to acclaim for Melbourne's The Production Company back in 2010.
As he prepares for opening night at the Theatre Royal, Hetherington took some time out to share a little of his brain on musical theatre - and what it's like to play one of comedy's great roles.
This Is Your Brain On Musical Theatre with Matt Hetherington
Is there a particular show and/or person that first made you feel like 'this is what I want to do'?
My Dad is a jazz musician so I grew up around live performers. They are great people. My Mum ran the jazz club my Dad and Uncle played in, so I had no hope!
I remember I stumbled across West Side Story on TV when I was about 10, and my jaw dropped. It's still my favourite musical.
What is the first album or soundtrack you listened to on repeat?
Grease went around and around on a cassette in Mum's car!
Do you remember when you first realised you could actually make a career out of performing?
I started doing paid gigs with a band when I was in Year 10 at school. My Dad has been a full time musician my whole life, so it wasn't something I had to discover.
Is there one night in your career that you would love to go back to and experience over again?
I rate performing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in the Melbourne season as a highlight.
The opening night of The Full Monty (my first big role) kinda paved my future in lots of ways. I knew being a lead actor was what I HAD to strive for.
Is there one role that belongs to the opposite gender, or a different age group, that you would secretly love to perform?
Not really - I've never yearned to be anything other than male. Seeing Caroline O'Connor as Gypsy, and Sharon Millerchip as Sweet Charity, are two amazing female roles that I had the great pleasure to be a part of on stage.
You've played Freddy in a concert version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for The Production Company, and now you are starring in the premiere Sydney season. What have you learned about Freddy along the way?
I LOVE him! He's so much fun! He lets me be the crazy guy I am at home, on stage, and be paid for it. How cool is that?
How many times have you seen the movie version of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? And what can fans of the movie expect from the musical adaptation?
I've seen the movie too many times to count. It was a favourite long before it was turned into a musical. Being a fan I know the audiences will love that [the stage show] is so true to the movie. I think that's important. Familiarity with musicals based on movies is extremely important. All the best bits of the movie are there in the musical. It even sounds like it, because David Yazbek has written music that pays homage to the movie soundtrack.
Which leads us nicely to ... what TV show, movie or book is the next hit musical waiting to happen?
Why the Village People's Can't Stop The Music isn't a stage show is beyond me. It's all there, just waiting to be staged. But so as not to sound stupidly camp, I'll also say Breaking Bad - The Musical, with music by The Foo Fighters. Now THAT would be awesome!
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a comedy classic. What or who is guaranteed to make you laugh?
And finally, borrowing from James Lipton via Bernard Pivot:
What sound or noise do you love?
My son's laugh is so beautiful it almost makes me cry with happiness.
DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS
Theatre Royal, Sydney from October 17th, with Opening Night October 24th.