Mitchell Butel has been named as the new Artistic Director of the State Theatre Company South Australia. He will take up the position in March, a month before outgoing Artistic Director Geordie Brookman leaves the Company and moves to Berlin.
Butel – who is currently starring in a STCSA and Windmill Theatre Co co-production of Rumpelstiltskin at the Southbank Centre in London – is a highly regarded actor, singer and director with a career spanning 27 years. In fact, he featured in three of Limelight’s top musical theatre productions of 2018 – as a performer in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder for The Production Company, and as a director of concert stagings of Funny Girl for Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Candide for Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.
Mitchell Butel. Photograph © Mark Heuer
One of Australia’s busiest actors, Butel has performed in more than 100 theatre productions, winning numerous awards including Helpmanns for Best Actor in a Musical for The Mikado, Avenue Q and The Venetian Twins, and Best Supporting Actor in a Play for Mr Burns, a post-electric play for STCSA and Belvoir. He also won a Sydney Theatre Award as Best Actor in a Play for Bell Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.
Over the past decade Butel has increasingly made his mark as a director. He won a Sydney Theatre Award for his direction of the musical Violet at the Hayes Theatre Co for Blue Saint Productions (which also won the award for Best Production of an Independent Musical), while his production of Spring Awakening for atyp was named Best Production for Young People at the Sydney Theatre Awards. In August 2019, he will direct the musical Caroline, or Change at the Hayes with a cast including Zahra Newman.
Butel said that he was “thrilled and honoured” to be joining the leadership of STCSA. “Many of my all-time favourite viewing and performing experiences have been at State Theatre Company and its legacy and influence has extended to all corners of the nation. I look forward to laying groundwork for similarly transformative, provocative and entertaining experiences for other audiences and artists,” he said.
Brookman expressed his delight that Butel has been appointed to lead STCSA. “I’ve no doubt that he will push it to even greater heights and ensure that the best theatre in the country continues to be made in Adelaide. Mitchell is both an extraordinary performer and incisive director but more than that, he is a storyteller of the highest order and a person I have the deepest possible respect for. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do – South Australia is in for a wonderful adventure,” he said.
Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, who have worked with Butel on many occasions at Sydney Theatre Company, described him as “a rare beast”, saying: “As an artist, he is across performance, direction, design and text. But behind the scenes, he has long been an advocate for performing artists, both big and small. He is a wonderful collaborator, and an extraordinary human. We are very excited for Mitchell, State Theatre Company and South Australia.”
Brookman’s last show with the Company will be his one-man adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, running March 12 – 30. Butel will join the Company that month and will release his 2020 program in September 2019.
STSCA Executive Director Jodi Glass said: “We’re so grateful to Geordie Brookman and the way he has led this Company over the past six years. He leaves it stronger and better than it ever was. I can’t wait to see how Mitchell Butel builds on from this with his inspiring vision for the years ahead. We’re all thrilled to re-introduce Mitchell to South Australia as ‘one of us’ and so excited to get stuck into 2019 and see where it takes us.”