Work is passion for Alex Rathge­ber

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Spending 14 years in the one job might seem long enough for many in the work­force these days – es­pe­cially if the work is as phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally chal­leng­ing as it is in­tel­lec­tu­ally.

But the­atri­cal per­former Alex Rathge­ber, orig­i­nally from Hor­sham and now 35, said he felt lucky ev­ery day he went to work and re­mained in love with the trade.

“I’m get­ting to work with and per­form along­side some pretty amazing peo­ple in some in­cred­i­ble shows. I still pinch my­self all the time,” he said.

Rathge­ber, whose early passion for per­for­mance evolved through events such as Wim­mera eisteddfods and Hor­sham High School and Hor­sham Arts Coun­cil pro­duc­tions, made the com­ments in be­tween shows and his role with the Lon­don Pal­la­dium pro­duc­tion of The Wiz­ard of Oz.

The pro­duc­tion is tour­ing Aus­tralia and will start at Mel­bourne’s Re­gent The­atre on May 15.

Rathge­ber has a pri­mary role as the Tin Man, per­form­ing along­side Sa­man­tha Dode­maide, Dorothy, Eli Cooper, the Scare­crow, John Xin­tavelo­nis, the Lion, Jemma Rix as Wicked Witch of the West and Lucy Durack, Glinda the Good Witch. An­thony War­low plays the Wiz­ard.

Rathge­ber said he was stag­gered by the scale and cre­ative art that had gone into the pro­duc­tion.

“Walk­ing back stage you can’t help but no­tice how much is in­volved – the cos­tumes, the sets and the num­ber of peo­ple needed in a pro­duc­tion like this to make it run so seam­lessly is stag­ger­ing. It is quite a spe­cial thing to be part of,” he said.

“One of the great things about this par­tic­u­lar show is that is so joy­ous. Peo­ple have a nos­tal­gic at­tach­ment and the Tin Man, who is always look­ing for a heart when in fact he has the biggest heart of all, is a beau­ti­ful role to play. It re­ally is quite an emo­tional and united jour­ney for all of us play­ing the main char­ac­ters.”

Rathge­ber, who grad­u­ated from Western Aus­tralian Academy of Per­form­ing Arts in 2003, said the show had at­tracted a fan­tas­tic au­di­ence re­sponse.

“It re­ally hits peo­ple, es­pe­cially when the or­ches­tra­tions are de­liv­ered in such a mag­nif­i­cent way. An­drew Lloyd Web­ber has added five new songs to the orig­i­nal mu­sic and we’re also notic­ing peo­ple laugh­ing in re­sponse to a funny up­dated script as well as cry­ing to such a heart-wrench­ing story,” he said.

“My main song, If I Only had a Heart, is a big num­ber where I get to tap dance which has been quite an ex­cit­ing chal­lenge. Start­ing as a singer I only re­ally started danc­ing when I at­tended WAAPA. I’ve tapped in about half a dozen shows in the past few years but this is the first time I’ve done a solo tap.”

Rathge­ber said the the­atre in­dus­try pro­vided a fas­ci­nat­ing and ever-chang­ing working en­vi­ron­ment.

“It’s a great com­mu­nity here in Aus­tralia. There’s a lot of won­der­ful peo­ple in this busi­ness and there are var­i­ous com­mon threads that tie us to­gether. I just love the peo­ple, who gen­er­ally be­lieve in cel­e­brat­ing life and chal­leng­ing them­selves phys­i­cal and emo­tion­ally,” he said.

“It’s a job that re­quires you to con­tin­u­ally ex­tend your­self and it can be as ad­dic­tive as it is re­ward­ing.”

Rathge­ber said al­though he had not been back to Hor­sham ‘for a while’, he kept in touch with close child­hood friends. He en­cour­aged Wim­mera peo­ple to at­tend a The Wiz­ard of Oz show.

FOL­LOW­ING THE YEL­LOW BRICK ROAD: Alex Rathge­ber, sec­ond from left, is rel­ish­ing his role as the Tin Man in the Lon­don Pal­la­dium pro­duc­tion of The Wiz­ard of Oz.

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