The Fame Reporter interviewed composer Bradley McCaw and incredible Australian theatre performer, Rachael Beck who star in a brand new musical composed by Bradley McCaw entitled ‘Becoming Bill‘ playing at Brisbane Powerhouse from 14 – 25 August.
Becoming Bill is a new award-winning musical about a finding your feet and writing your best life…
Featuring leading musical theatre star Rachael Beck and direction by Neil Gooding this hilarious and heartwarming new Australian work will receive its world premiere in Brisbane, after winning several awards around the world.
When Bill, an out of work actor, is asked to write a musical, he foolishly bases it on himself and those around him, upsetting the delicate balance in the family home, unburdening truths they had each hidden.
We talked to Bradley and Rachael about their experience creating a new Australian musical, what audiences can expect from ‘Becoming Bill’ and more.
See our interview below!
What sparked your interest in performing and composing initially?
Bradley: I first started writing songs in the style of Boyz II Men and Babyface. I was terribly gangsta. Of course I was… But when I heard Anthony Warlow sing ‘This is The Moment’ I fell in love with Musical Theatre and that was it… I had no chance!
Rachael: I started at dancing school in Lismore when I was 4 years old and my love grew from there.
What is the ‘Becoming Bill’ about and what was it that gave you the idea for this brand new Australian musical?
B: Becoming Bill is about Bill, a young man who gets a call out of the blue asking him to write a musical. He bases it on his life and writes songs for the people he loves – his girlfriend, his mum and brother. He writes what he thinks they are really feeling inside. During the show we watch his journey to become a writer… and in the process himself, as he confronts his past to fully embrace his future.
This is based on a real moment in my life, when I was called out of the blue and asked to write a musical… Nine years later… Here we are!
R: ‘Becoming Bill’ is about a family that has had a tumultuous past and are at a period of growth and moving forward.
It is about the masks we wear, relationships, letting go and moving on.
What drew you to be involved?
R: I’m passionate about supporting new Australian musicals.
Who do you play and what do you love about your character?
R: I play Jane, the mother of two sons. She’s vulnerable, quirky and brave.
B: I play Bill. During the show I sing, narrate, play piano and try to understand why I feel the way I do. It’s a challenging role in many regards – which I love- because he is so active. He leaves the stage for all of 5 minutes in the entire piece and the rest of the time – he’s juggling all these plates – trying to be the perfect version of ‘Bill’ and write some ‘perfect’ songs.
What has been the most rewarding and challenging parts about creating this new musical from the ground up?
B: What a great question! Honestly, each step has its own challenges and rewards. Today I am answering your questions, backstage as we get ready for a tech rehearsal in the Brisbane Powerhouse and everything feels very exciting. Only a week ago I was overwhelmed – feeling like I didn’t fully understand the journey I needed to take as an actor in the play… But that’s all part of it! Our fears give way to clarity and movement.
I guess that’s been the biggest challenge through the entire nine year process – having faith and letting things unfold. Everything has its own timing.
R: It’s challenging because the script changes every day! It is rewarding because it is a brand-new Aussie musical.
Do you have a role in musical theatre/straight theatre that you are dying to play?
B: Yes. All of them! I have been out of acting the past 4 years – focusing on my writing and I’ve missed it terribly. I am so excited to be back on the stage and acting opposite such a tremendously gifted cast and can’t wait for what comes next- whether it’s another of my works or someone else’s.
What is your favourite thing about composing and writing musicals and how did you get into it?
B: In developing Becoming Bill, my favourite aspect of writing has been watching the book/script develop over the last 6 months. Even though I’ve been working on it for 9 years – it changed tremendously once our director Neil Gooding, and actors came into view. Also, I have orchestrated the score (with Trevor Jones our musical supervisor doing all the vocal arranging) and that has been so very rewarding.
At heart, I am a big music geek so sitting and hearing our band bring my score to life – it’s very touching.
How does it feel to be part of ‘Becoming Bill’ and being involved from the very beginning of an up and coming original Australian musical?
B: It’s rare for a writer of musical theatre to actually see their original work reach the stage, so I am absolutely not taking it for granted. I hope that this leads to other works being produced and we continue to get new musicals on the stage in Brisbane and abroad.
What’s exciting is this is a Brisbane story.
It started here and has premiered here (with some awards and support from around the world).
R: It’s exhilarating.
Brad McCaw is an absolute dream.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
B: Performers and not composers, right? Umm…. Steve Martin. Robin Williams. Bette Middler.
R: Judy Dench, Emma Thompson and Bradley Cooper.
What have you learnt to work alongside your cast mates and creative team and how did you go about casting this show?
Wow…where to start. I have learned so much acting opposite Rachael. Her craft. Her work ethic and her honesty – I felt those things from the start. And I felt just from being in a scene with her I was becoming a better actor. That sounds really over complimentary but that’s the truth. Maybe that says more about how ‘bad’ I was… Joking! Haha.
Also our creative team have really done an excellent job – Neil Gooding, Trevor Jones, Raymond Milner (designer) Matt Erskine (sound designer) Ben Shotton (Lighting), Melfred Lijauco (Musical Director) Maureen Bowra (Assistant Director) and our producers Lewis Jones & Michael Mandalios – the works has been so fortunate to have these artists at the helm of it.
What has working alongside the writer and composer, Bradley McCaw taught you?
R: That writing, producing and starring in your own show is exhausting but rewarding.
Who or what inspires you?
B: My family, my Mother, and the lady with the roses and her Gardeners. And more to the point – coffee and wine. They are the true champions of a new Australian musical.
R: Big Question – Kids who have shocking home lives but still have hope.
People who can find compassion and peace after.
Why do you think audiences should come and experience ‘Becoming Bill’?
R: A feeling of familiarity, of witnessing human beings able to move forward with hope.
B: I am really passionate about new Australian stories – especially on the musical theatre stage. I feel anyone that hasn’t seen some of my work should come and check it out. If you don’t ‘like’ musicals, still come and give it a chance – because this show is not traditional ‘musical theatre’ – there isn’t one jazz hand or box step!
You may also see yourself on stage – or your brother, friend or mother… I’m also really proud of what we have created.
Fame Reporter Word Play
B: My first musical
R: New Australian musical
B: The duck. Why Brad Why….
B: A list of buckets
R: Buenos Aires
Comedy or Drama
R and B: Comedy
Go-to Karaoke song
B: Bohemian Rhapsody.
Any secret talents
B: I can make pig noises… Sounds… Yelps.
R: West Side Story
Dressing Room necessity
R: Snacks – lots!
B: The top of the mountain.
R: Bradley Cooper
B: Lily James.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
R: So many kids
B: The best Martha Milfred you’ll ever hear… You’ll have to see the show to get the one
R: Needs more funding
Place you want to travel to
R: South America
B: A show on Broadway and an Australian National tour. Not necessarily in that order
R: Peace and happy kids
TV Show Binge
B: Schitts Creek (currently)
Finally, favourite thing about composing
B: That it came from ‘the other side…’
Favourite thing about performing
R: It’s the most mindful thing you can do
Becoming Bill Musical
14 – 25 August
For more information
All photos – Supplied