Alex Rathgeber’s dramatic year

by | Dec 12, 2022

Alex Rathgeber has already enjoyed an extensive and diverse international career. He’s played Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera on London’s West End. He’s appeared in numerous television series, and played roles on stage ranging from the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz to Carl Bruner in Ghost the Musical to Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Show, to name just a few. His portrayal of Billy Crocker in Anything Goes earned him a Helpmann Award. He also released his own CD.

Needless to say, Alex Rathgeber had established himself as a leading man of musical theatre. However, 2022 has taken a more dramatic turn. Earlier this year, he appeared in the play North by Northwest. Alex Rathgeber is now currently playing the role of Giles Ralston in the Australian tour of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap and he is loving it!

“It’s exhilarating! Honestly, that’s the word for it,” exclaimed a very enthusiastic Alex Rathgeber.

After years of working in musicals, Alex Rathgeber was very keen to move into plays. After getting a taste of it during his time doing North By Northwest, Rathgeber wanted more.

“After all these years of wanting to do plays, this has sort of become my year of stepping into plays,” said Rathgeber.

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and through the rehearsal period Alex Rathgeber understood just why this play has stood the test of time.

“It’s a really entertaining, gripping piece, and there’s a lot more to it than people might assume … There’s a lot in it that’s really relevant and holds in 2022,” he explained.

Despite working on the West End for two years in Phantom, Alex Rathgeber didn’t get the opportunity to see The Mousetrap in London.

“Obviously, I was working so I didn’t have much opportunity to see it, but I’m sorry I didn’t see it just as a reference point.”

However, Alex Rathgeber also acknowledges the benefits of not having seen the London production.

“On the flipside, I’m glad I didn’t because then I don’t have that reference point. It’s just nice having a completely fresh take on the text. When we did our cold read with each other on the first day of rehearsal you don’t have any preconceived ideas what it should be, which is quite nice,” Rathgeber explained.

It also meant Alex Rathgeber had no idea just who the murderer was in this Agatha Christie murder-mystery play until he read the script for the first time during the preparation for his audition for The Mousetrap.

“I requested the full script so I could know the whole piece and where my character I was auditioning for was sitting in the context of the whole thing. It really does just jump off the page! I loved auditioning for it.”

I asked Alex Rathgeber if he was able to identify the murderer the first time he read through the script.

“No! No, I didn’t the first time!” Rathgeber laughed, adding, “And of course, now I know, I could tell you, but … I’d have to kill you.”

Of course part of the success of the longevity of this play is asking the audience to keep the secret. It’s a request that comes directly from the Agatha Christie estate. Alex Rathgeber said there are also audience members who have seen the play many years ago but have forgotten the identity of the murderer and have returned to see it again.

After years working in musical theatre, I asked Alex Rathgeber what drew him to plays this year.

He replied without hesitation, “Acting! I just love acting!”

Alex Rathgeber grew up in country Victoria, and comes from family with no one in the arts industry. When he completed high school he went straight to WAAPA. He said it took him years after he had graduated from WAAPA before he felt he could call himself an “actor”.

It was clear talking with him, that Alex Rathgeber is loving this genre of performance.

One of the highlights has been the opportunity to work with Director Robyn Nevin, herself an extraordinary performer.

“She’s phenomenal! She’s so inspiring! And I mean that in the truest sense of the word, because she kind of makes you, if you aren’t in love with what we do enough already, then she herself is so passionate and in love with the craft and the work, that I was coming in everyday more and more motivated to get as much out of the text as I possibly can.”

Beyond Robyn Nevin’s passion and love for her work, Alex Rathgeber believes it is her extraordinary acting career that makes the difference in her role as Director.

“She’s an actor, and that makes her an actor’s director, which is the beauty of it, because she’s still acting after decades and decades of a really diverse career across all different types of stage performance, and genres, and styles of writing for the stage and the screen. I think that she’s just able to watch each one of us closely and I feel like she’s got this ability to imagine herself being in our shoes, which only an actor can do to the degree that she can.”

She also brought an acceptance, understanding and support during the rehearsal process, because, as Alex Ragtheber explained, “It wasn’t that many days ago that she was on the stage as an actor. She knows what it’s like.”

The Mousetrap also features an extraordinary cast, including Anna O’Byrne who plays opposite Alex Rathgeber.

“Anna is just a dream to be working with!”

“Rehearsals involved painstakingly working through moment by moment, scene by scene, and really interrogating it and dissecting it, asking why, why, why did that happen and why are you doing that? And then slowly piecing it all back together,” explained Rathgeber.

He continued to explain further, “In any normal play you have to unpack it and dissect it and figure it out, but it’s an extra degree of that when its a murder mystery. You know you have to be really kind of delicate, and careful, and strategic with how you piece it all back together, so that you’re crafting it in the right way so that you’re giving things away that you want to give away and you’re not giving things away you didn’t want to give away.”

And of course, that means ensuring the audience is unaware of just “whodunnit” until as late in the story as possible.

“There’s not much given away. It does hold right till the end.”

Alex Rathgeber explained there are no peripheral or gratuitous characters in this play.

“There’s only eight of us on stage and it could be anyone of us. It means that everyone in the company has their equal time on stage, their equal moment to shine, and everyone gets some really juicy material to work on. It’s quite satisfying across the board for the audience to get a glimpse into the lives of these different characters in equal measure.”

After years of rehearsing for musicals, Alex Rathgeber is enjoying the change in the process, with no vocal and choreography rehearsals allowing for more time dedicated to acting.

“I think that’s part of what’s so satisfying about it too. It’s really rewarding being able to spend so much time interrogating each moment of each scene. I just love acting and I’m at that point where I just want to do more and more of it.”

Does that mean he is singing less?

“Actually, I’m singing more than I’ve ever sung! I’m singing every morning and every night and I’m in a pretty rigorous routine. And I’m absolutely loving it!”

Alex Rathgeber said his voice is still his instrument and it needs to be be kept in shape, regardless of the genre of the show.

“It’s not like we stop using our voices and there’s so much musicality in how we use our voice as actors, and all of us in this biz need to think about what our next gig is and what audition we might need to be ready for.”

For now, Alex Rathgeber is just loving being part of this murder mystery that promises to have audiences on the edge of their seat trying to identify the murderer.

 

 

 

For 70 years, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has kept millions of people from every corner of the globe on the edge of their seats. It is the genre-defining murder mystery from the best-selling novelist of all time … case closed! Can you solve this world-famous mystery for yourself?

 

For more information: themousetrap.com.au

@TheMousetrapAU                       #TheMousetrapAU

 

THE MOUSETRAP

Adelaide

Venue: Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide

Season: 31 December 2022 – 15 January 2023

Performance Times: Tues-Thurs 7:00pm, Fri-Sat 7:30pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm

Prices: From $69.00 (Transaction fees apply)

Bookings: ticketek.com.au or phone 13 28 49

Groups 8+ call 1300 364 001

 

Melbourne

Venue: Comedy Theatre, Melbourne

Season: 17 February – 26 March 2023

Performance Times: Wed-Thurs 7:00pm, Fri-Sat 7:30pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1 & 6pm

Prices: From $69.00 (Transaction fees apply)

Bookings: ticketek.com.au or phone 13 28 49

Groups 8+ call (03) 9299 9873

 

Perth

Venue: His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth

Season: 8 – 16 April 2023

Performance Times: Tues-Thurs 7:00pm, Fri-Sat 7:30pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1 or 3pm

Prices: From $69.00 (Transaction fees apply)

Bookings: artsculturetrust.wa.gov.au or (08) 6212 9292

 

Canberra

Venue: Canberra Theatre Centre

Season: 11 – 21 May 2023

Performance Times: Tues-Thurs 7:00pm, Fri-Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1pm & 6pm

Prices: From $69.00 (Transaction fees apply)

Bookings: canberratheatrecentre.com.au or (02) 6275 2700

 

Parramatta

Venue: Riverside Theatres, Parramatta

Season: 15 – 24 June 2023

Performance Times: Tues-Thurs 7:00pm, Fri-Sat 7:30pm, Wed 1pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 1 & 6pm

Prices: From $69.00 (Transaction fees apply)

Bookings: riversideparramatta.com.au or (02) 8839 3399

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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