Multi-award winning cabaret artist and comedian Eddie Perfect, takes on the role of Australia's Spin King, in his new production - Shane Warne The Musical.

Currently in rehearsals, Eddie spoke to Australian Stage's Paul Kooperman ahead of next month's Premiere.

Shane WarneSo...Shane Warne the Musical, how are rehearsals going?
Really well. A lot of dancing. Which I haven’t done to this extent before, but only myself to blame really for writing so many dance numbers. But yes, everything’s on track and the show’s feeling good.

It’s been a few years since you first had the idea for the show. Why has it been such a long development period?
When I first had the idea, I initially wrote a few songs for it and the story the way I initially saw it, but when I started to involve others in the process, it was natural that songs got cut, the story developed, new songs were added. The ending changed a few times as did the opening. They say the first five minutes of a musical is a time to give the audience what the show is and what style they’re going to see it in. Other than that it’s hard to get a lot across, as they’re just settling in to the world of the piece. So it took me ages to write something that wasn’t too expositional and gave the audience time to adjust to what was to come. I guess the lengthy development process has allowed us all a chance to wake up in the middle of the night and think ‘ah, that song’s not working or that scene needs changing’ and so that’s how it has worked. The workshops were really helpful in clarifying some strengths and weaknesses.

Can you tell us about the casting process?
Really hard actually. First of all, it was hard finding people who weren’t cemented in the typical ‘musical theatre mindset’, meaning most shows performed in Australia are copies from the States or overseas, so we have many talented performers in Australia who are really good at churning out performances which are identical to the original performance or cast recording because that’s what is required of them. When we cast Shane Warne, we really wanted people who marched to their own drum. We didn’t even know who would be playing what role, and as it’s turned out, cast members play a few roles, so we hadn’t decided that at the time of casting, so essentially we were looking for a bunch of funny, talented people, who could sing the songs well and ‘get the humour’ as well as people who could accept new ideas as we created them and would be fun and flexible to work with, which I think we got, but it wasn’t easy finding those sorts of people.

What elements of the script or show were you fixed on and less flexible about?
Not a lot to be honest. As material was written and introduced to the show, we’d all begin to get a sense of what was working and what wasn’t. But then it’s harder when I think something’s not working, but the rest of the team love it or they think something’s not working and I love it. Which certainly happened. Neil (Armfield) and I had this code if he thought something wasn’t working and I loved it, I would say what I thought but then have a 20 minute buffer zone to come back to him and change my mind and so after 20 minutes or so, I would more often than not come back and say ‘yeh, you’re right Neil, let’s do it your way’.
{xtypo_quote_right} was hard finding people who weren’t cemented in the typical ‘musical theatre mindset’...we have many talented performers in Australia who are really good at churning out performances which are identical to the original performance or cast recording because that’s what is required of them{/xtypo_quote_right}
Was it always your intention to play the lead role?
Not at all. I actually never really wanted to. It kinda happened that way because when we were workshopping the show, we couldn’t really afford someone and didn’t really know then who would be best to play it, so I just did it because I was there. But there were certainly things I enjoyed about playing the role (and still do), so I have kind of warmed into it. I definitely want to be able to extract myself from the show at some point and hand it over. It’s great that Matt Hetherington is already doing the matinees as Shane, so right from the start there’ll be someone who is great for the role doing it, other than me, which I am thrilled about. Matt’s wonderful.

Do you have a preference in terms of writing music or lyrics or between performing or writing?
Absolutely. Increasingly, I am enjoying the writing side of things and creative development period more than performing. I think I want to do more writing and less acting in the future. Not that I don’t enjoy performing, but I love writing and think it’s becoming a preference.

Anything you’ve started working on?
I actually want to write films. Musical films. I have a few ideas, but haven’t actually started on anything yet. I am really passionate about the genre of musical films and what can be achieved on film. Like the idea that you can jump between locations and have lots of stuff happening at the same time. That really interests me.

Have you thought about making Shane Warne a film?
I actually wanted to do that without making it a stage show first. But this is just how things have worked out. So yes, I have and would love to, given the opportunity.

Thanks Eddie. Best of luck with the show.
Hope you enjoy it.

Shane Warne - The Musical opens December at the Athenaeum Theatre Melbourne. Further information»

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