Andrew Hallsworth has choreographed pieces for drag queens, notorious stage mothers and classic chorus lines. Now he talks to us about his latest subject – Rupert Murdoch.
Not many people expect David Williamson’s Rupert to include song and dance. Can you give us a couple of hints as to what we might expect?
When David was writing the play he would imagine Rupert tap dancing around his life, his career and money. So Young Rupert has these bursts of theatrical energy and we weave that shameless Rupert energy through the play to set scenes and eras. David also described Rupert as a ‘perpetual motion machine’ and I thought that a brilliant way to approach the choreography.
What shows have you worked on in the past? Is working on Rupert a different experience?
I’ve worked on many, many musicals all over the world from Priscilla to The Drowsy Chaperone to Gypsy. I worked on Hamlet with Simon Phillips for MTC and a few other actor-driven pieces so it’s not really a new or different experience for me. I approach choreography from an acting and story-driven vocabulary, so whether I have dancers or actors on the rehearsal floor it’s very similar. I just don’t get actors doing back flips – except if they can, I will!
How do you approach teaching choreography to artists who are not necessarily trained dancers?
Actors need more time, loads more rehearsal for repetition helps and assurance they are doing it correctly. They don’t have the connection to movement like dancers do but once they ‘get it’ actors always bring something special to choreography. I love choreographing actors.
What styles of dance are included in Rupert?
We travel the globe in Rupert from Australia to London, New York and China so each section has a flavour that represents the country and the time. Young Rupert taps around the stage a few times. Margaret Thatcher and Young Rupert do a flamenco which I love. Marg Downey is fabulous!
Can we expect jazz hands?
Maybe? You’ll have to come and see the play.
Rupert plays from 24 August to 28 September at Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse.
image: The Rupert cast in rehearsals with choreographer Andrew Hallsworth. Photo by Gina Milicia. You can see more images in the gallery on the right, or by visiting the Rupert page.