Rachael Beck and Michael Cormick are cornerstones of the Australian musical theatre industry.
The pair have performed dozens of iconic leading roles, including The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Les Miserables, Grease, and opposite one another as Belle and The Beast in the Australian Premiere of Beauty and the Beast. Next week, they’re bringing Broadway to Hamer Hall for one day only with their Morning Melodies performance, sharing the music and stories of their lives in performance.
Could you tell me a bit about what we’ll be seeing next week?
Rachael: It’s a show that was actually devised by myself and Michael. We had Kelley Abbey direct it when we played at the Recital Hall in Sydney last year. It’s a celebration of our careers done in a Cabaret/New York style, so songs interwoven with stories about our lives and inspirations to start performing. It’s also a mix of shows we have done and shows we’ll never do. It’s only about an hour but we love doing it and hopefully will tour it soon.
Michael: It’s had a couple different forms. It started off as a small show down here in Melbourne before we took it to Sydney. This’ll be a combination of the two! We’ve updated it a bit, but the essence is still the same. Rach and I up on stage is always a magical thing, especially for us, because we know each other so well and it’s one of those things where you just know what to expect. We know each other inside out – vocally, personally, emotionally, all those things. It’s always a treat for us as well. In many ways, this show brings back some gorgeous memories for both of us.
Are there any shows or roles that you have particularly loved performing?
Michael: There are so many… but I loved doing Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera.
Rachael: You fall in love with every role you do. And part of every role is in you, you know? So I can’t really pick one above the other, you love them for different reasons. It’s like picking your favourite child!
Anything you’d love to do in the future?
Michael: Oh, I’ve always loved Jekyll and Hyde. But I don’t know at my age! [laughs]
Rachael: I sort of feel that perhaps the role I want to do is being written at this very moment by some fantastic Australian writer!
When you’re not up on stage, what do you like to do with your time?
Michael: I like to do a bit of mentoring with people up-and-coming, it’s part of giving back to what we have. I love what I do and it’s great to work with the younger people in our industry. It kind of reminds you of what you know, and having been around so long… [laughs] It’s interesting, Rach and I have, when you add it all together, done something like 72 years of performance experience between us. On a selfish level it gives back to me! It hones in skills that you can then use again, an energy exchange almost, which is what I think music and theatre is all about. Rach works with younger people, I go for more the ones who have arrived and are ready to go!
Rachael: I’ve been doing workshops all over the countryside, it’s been fun and games. All over Australia, I do a lot with high schools and helping their performing arts departments start up or get stronger. It’s where I’m meant to be. My dad used to direct high school productions and put the kids who were being picked on or not doing so well at school in the lead roles, and it changed the whole path of their lives. It made me realise the power of the performing arts and how necessary it is for kids to learn all those life skills – finding your voice, self esteem, self confidence, working in a team, finding your tribe. I think having children of my own as well made me realise the power of it too, and that we shouldn’t kids teach kids STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), it should be STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, mathematics).
Rachael Beck and Michael Cormick perform for two shows only (11am and 1:30) at Morning Melodies on 11 February. Tickets are on sale at the Arts Centre Melbourne website.