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 circa.co.nz.