The man who wears a frock


Ac­tor Gavin Ruther­ford be­gan this year in a frock, as­cended to the heights of tragic drama and slipped into yet another dress to see the year out.

After play­ing Mother Goose in Circa’s pan­tomime last year and Ed­die Car­bone in A View From the Bridge, he will be the Dame in Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood.

It has been a busy, not to men­tion var­ied, year for Ruther­ford, and has also in­cluded roles in Equiv­o­ca­tion and The Pit­men Painters.

Ruther­ford said he had no pref­er­ence for drama, melo­drama or com­edy, but en­joyed va­ri­ety.

This will be his 10th Circa pan­tomime role, and the fifth that has re­quired him to cross-dress. Does he en­joy play­ing women? ‘‘I couldn’t pos­si­bly com­ment,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s won­der­ful.

‘‘So as not to of­fend women, I’m not ac­tu­ally play­ing a woman here. I’m play­ing a car­toon sketch of a woman. It’s def­i­nitely a man play­ing a woman.’’

And what do his fam­ily make of his job, par­tic­u­larly his two teenage daugh­ters?

His youngest at­tends each pan­tomime five to 10 times, slip­ping into a back seat late in the show.

‘‘She’s cer­tainly got a good idea about what makes a good panto,’’ he said.

‘‘You can see that they’re sort of proud, but then they wouldn’t say that in front of their friends.’’

The friends come along and en­joy see­ing him on stage in a frock and then af­ter­wards in his reg­u­lar clothes.

‘‘Cer­tainly Mikayla en­joys her pseudo celebrity, be­cause her dad puts on a frock for a job.’’

Ruther­ford said Awhimai Fraser, in the ti­tle role, plays a straight per­son to a cast of out­ra­geously risque char­ac­ters.

‘‘Awhina is do­ing a very good job of play­ing the po-faced in­no­cent while the rest of the cast are mak­ing all th­ese sex­ual in­nu­en­does,’’ he said.

Fraser is just 19 and re­cently grad­u­ated from the Whi­tireia Per­form­ing Arts pro­gramme.

Fresh from play­ing one naif as Sandy in Grease, she has moved on to another in Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood, and said it had been a chal­lenge in more ways than one.

‘‘I’m more of a mu­si­cal the­atre girl, re­ally,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s been chal­leng­ing to get into a character like Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood.’’

The rest of the cast had to ex­plain some of the in­evitable pan­tomime in­nu­endo to her, she said.

‘‘I can hon­estly say I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in re­hearsal.’’

Fraser is a reg­u­lar Beat Girl and is in de­mand to sing na­tional an­thems at in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events, for the Sil­ver Ferns re­cently and this week for the Black Sticks.

The play, writ­ten by Roger Hall and di­rected by Susan Wilson, fea­tures Si­mon Leary, Jane Wad­dell, Jonathan Mor­gan, Car­rie Green, Pa­trick Davies and Tom Truss, with songs by Paul Jen­den and Michael Ni­cholas Wil­liams.


Peren­nial dame: Gavin Ruther­ford as the Dame.

Lit­tle Red Rid­ing Hood, Circa The­atre, Novem­ber 15 till Jan­uary 10. For in­for­ma­tion or to book,call 801 7992 or visit

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