MUSIC theatre choreographer Cameron Mitchell feels the same buzz watching other people dance his steps as when he used to receive applause after his own performance.
Raised in Adelaide, a four-year-old Mitchell began dance classes after bopping around his grandmother’s living room to The Best of Abba.
“I taught myself how to put the record on and they realised I liked to dance,” Mitchell said.
“My dad always wanted to be a tap dancer when he was a kid but was never given the opportunity, so it was a combination of those two things.”
At nine he was bitten by the music theatre bug when his mum took him to see his first professional musical, The Sound of Music.
“I was absolutely agog by it,” he said.
“I read an article in the paper that said The Sound of Music producers were putting on Oliver. I took it to my parents and said I was going to be in that. I heard my mother ask ‘Can he even sing?’ and I said ‘I beg your pardon’. So we went to the cattle call audition and I got in. And then I was hooked by the whole world of music theatre.”
Since then he has performed in Chicago, West Side Story and Hot Shoe Shuffle, choreographed for Caroline O’Connor and girl groups including Bardot, and his work was featured on TV show So You Think You Can Dance.
Now living in Sydney, Mitchell has been invited as guest choreographer through the McCusker Charitable Foundation to work on WAAPA’s mid-year musical Carousel, directed by Jason Langley and starring second and third year music students at Regal Theatre.
Langley has chosen to update the setting, changing it from the traditional 1870s to 1969.
“He felt it was a good way to stay at the core of the story but bringing it to a different time, setting it against the Vietnam War for a returned soldier in the lead role,” Mitchell said.
“It’s been great doing it that way and getting into the gritty parts of the story. When it comes to the turn of the century, especially in the movie, it’s always so pristine and everyone is so well behaved, whereas the story is a lot darker than that.”
Taking place in the US fishing town of Maine, Carousel follows the story of a soldier returned from the Vietnam War and shunned like many Vietnam veterans were.
“He finds himself working in a fair as the barker of a carousel,” Mitchell said.
“He meets a young girl and it’s all about him being unable to connect with anyone, society and the demons he has. It has themes about domestic violence, sins of the father and how history repeats itself. He gets a second chance to right his wrongs.”
Where: Regal Theatre
When: June 16 to 23