While his stint in Sydney Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet will soon draw to a close, it’s full steam ahead for Mitchell Butel.
The celebrated stage actor is about to launch straight into intensive rehearsals for the encore season of South Pacific. AussieTheatre’s Ben Nielsen managed to catch up with him to chat about this new role.
Butel will join the cast of the hugely popular production as Luther Billis. Despite succeeding both Eddie Perfect and Gyton Grantley in the role, he is certain that he can add his own twist.
“As a comedic and character actor, Billis is just one of those Holy Grail roles. I’m completely thrilled to be able to play him and it will be a great way for me to finish the year,” said Butel earlier this week.
Riding the success of last year’s season, South Pacific commenced a return tour earlier this month. Butel, who is joining the company for the Perth and Adelaide seasons, says the show’s remarkable popularity comes as little surprise.
“I think there’s a real shift back to great narratives. A lot of musicals are theme based rather than story based. Audiences just crave a really good story.”
There is no doubt that South Pacific will satisfy audience cravings, as it has been doing so for over sixty years. Tackling themes of racial prejudice, identity and war, the “beautiful morality tale” is just as captivating and relevant now, as when it first debuted on Broadway in 1949.
“They [Rodgers and Hammerstein] don’t shy away from anything. They’re just such great writers. As an actor you don’t even really need to decorate it much – you just respect the text.”
Butel is just as excited about sharing the stage with the likes of Lisa McCune and Christine Anu as he is about the prospect of touring.
The Adelaide Central Market will be the first stop off when he’s in town later this year, where he is sure to be seen sipping a coffee at Lucia’s or with a pinot in hand.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I always have a great time in Adelaide and at the Festival Centre; it’s such an exciting hub.”
Crown Theatre Perth: 10 November – 6 December 2013
Adelaide Festival Centre: 29 December -12 January 2014