Oprahfication - About the Show



Tormented by the lack of roles for her 'colour' and 'type' on the Melbourne stage, we began the journey of Oprahfication in 2012 by asking Rachel Dunham "If you could play ANY role... who would it be?"  She replied "Well, I've always been teased that I look a bit like Oprah..."  Oprahfication first appeared as a 10 minute cabaret at Short+Sweet (2012), where it received two awards, the 'CABFringe Tour Ready Award' and the Melbourne Cabaret Festival’s 'Award for Excellence'. After several months of development this 10 min take on ‘what Oprah did next’ turned into an hour long production which previewed to a chanting full house at The Butterfly Club. Between our seasons at this year's Adelaide Fringe, Melbourne Cabaret Festival and Ballarat Cabaret Fest we’ve continued to build. 

From start to finish people connect with Oprah (Rachel Dunham) as though they are a part of a live taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show. Laughs are constant. Oprah’s journey through gospel, mo-town, doo-wop, rock ballads, love ballads and lullabies has the audience on the edge of their seats. Shanon Whitelock’s original compositions are affecting; his musical hooks infectious, immediately singable and simply put: the perfect vehicle for Rachel Dunham’s exquisite voice.  Rachel Dunham’s voice is massive, her comic timing perfect, her portrayal of the fading talk show queen, uncanny.  This is by no means a show centred on a clever impersonation; A parody certainly, but done with great care and respect for the big ‘O’. Side by side, Rachel looks very little like Oprah, but when she sings... the energy and spirit of Oprah is unquestionably with us. It really is a sight to behold. 


Rachel Dunham / Book / Lyrics / OPRAH

Rachel Dunham - Book & LyricsWith an extraordinary singing voice and stage presence, Rachel was in much demand as a jazz singer, touring as lead vocalist in the Queensland Youth Big Band, working in studios for EMI and BMG, singing in TV commercials, music videos and fronting 9-piece Sydney show band Cool Weazel.   She studied with renowned voice coach Don Greydon who helped her expand her already formidable range, and develop more power and control over her voice. Based in New Zealand for several years, Rachel devised and starred in a highly successful children’s theatre production Gypsy Gina.  During her time in there, Rachel fronted sell-out jazz shows at the Wellington International Arts Festival, opened for Ray Charles during his tour and performed to 30,000 people at the Millennium Celebrations in Wellington. In 2011 Rachel was cast in New Theatricals production of “Rock of Ages”, where she received a 5-star review in the Melbourne Age for her performance of “Justice Charlier”. Rachel continues to perform in stage musicals, most recently in Harvest Rain’s production of “Hairspray” as “Motormouth Maybelle”. 

 Shanon Whitelock / Composer

Shanon D. Whitelock - ComposerShanon completed his first Solo Work for Piano at seven years old. By the age of 16, Shanon was ranked in the Top Ten of the Australian National Song-writing Competition and in 1999, at age 17, he placed in the Top Five of J Music’s National Song Competition. As a composer, Shanon has written for short film, animation, live theatre and aerial circus. In 2007, he was Associate Conductor for Twelfth Night Theatre's production of "Carousel". August of that same year saw the premiere concert performance of "ONE - A New Musical" at the Arts Centre, Gold Coast, co-written by Shanon. An experienced Musical Director and Arranger, Shanon has recently fulfilled these roles for a workshop performance of “Pink” (June 2010 - lead by Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz, the cabaret show “Chelsea Gibb in Lucy & Jessie” (Butterfly Club, Melbourne). In 2009 Shanon was Musical Director for Queensland Performing Arts Centre's season of "Isn't It Romantic - The Songs of Rodgers & Hart" in the Cremorne Theatre and Associate Musical Director for Dianne Gough Productions' season of "Macbeth: the Contemporary Rock Opera", also at QPAC.

Dirk Hoult / Director 

Dirk Hoult - DirectorDirk is described as enchanting, charismatic, rousing, transporting, a limelight thief with a hilariously disturbed sense of humour. In 2011, Dirk joined Badass Production’s as performer, director and co-producer and has since produced and directed a number of burlesque, circus and variety events including the Brass Bear Cabaret for the 2012 Melbourne Cabaret Festival and The Butcher Shop Revue for the Melbourne Fringe, which earned him and his company a monthly residency at Melbourne’s famous The Butterfly Club. Dirk has appeared in several film, theatre and musical theatre engagements across Australia. Highlights include; Road Movie (Midsumma / Adelaide Fringe Festival), Behind the Cane (The Queensland Music Festival), The Ugly One (23rd Productions), The Five-Ways Opera (Brisbane Festival), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Oscar Theatre Company) and the multi-award winning and Helpman nominated production of The Kursk (Matrix Theatre / Metro Arts) which toured nationally throughout 2009. He made his feature film debut in the ‘schoolie’ movie Blurred (2002). In 2010 Dirk accepted a four-month internship as the Assistant Producer for the Queer Up North International Arts Festival in Manchester. A graduate from the University of Southern Queensland’s acting strand in 2001, he has received numerous Matilda Award nominations for his performances in Queensland. 

Alexander Berlage / Lighting Design

Recent design credits include The Old Maid and the Thief and The Impressario at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Oprahfication for Sydney Mardi Gras/Adam Lowe Group, Hilt for Mirror Mirror/Old 505 Theatre and A Moment on the Lips for Mad March Hare Theatre/SITCO. For NIDA he has designed The Dissolving Self (with Brink Productions/Carriageworks), The Red Shoes, Klutz, Fewer Emergencies, The Witches, Caligula and Playhouse. For Cupboard Love/SITCO: Say Hello First. For The Oligarchs/SITCO: Circuit. For Unpathed Theatre: Blood Moon. For AADA: The Great. Alex has also completed internships on The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic at The Park Avenue Armory, The Bridges of Madison County at the Schoenfeld Theatre, Little Me at the New York City Center. Back in Australia he has completed internships on Peter Pan at Belvoir, The Cherry Orchard and Rupert at MTC and Synathesia at the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart. Alex was the 2013 recipient of the Peter Baynes Memorial New York Scholarship and is the current recipient of the 2014 Leslie Walford AM Award and the Lee MacCormick Edwards Fellowship. Alex holds a Bachelor of Dramatic Art (Production) from the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney, Australia.

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