Culture Street

By Sophia Whitfield

I caught up with WAAPA graduate Matt Hetherington at the start of his preview performances for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He is reviving the role of small-time crook Freddy Benson which he first performed in Melbourne in 2009. Known to many as a contestant on The Voice, in Team Delta, Hetherington has had a varied career, but has stayed true to his musical roots.

In 2010 Hetherington was named Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and he won the prestigious Helpmann Award as Best Actor in the musical production of The Full Monty in 2004. He still performs in his band, The Matt Hetherington Band, and is currently rehearsing with them whilst performing in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Melbourne based Hetherington has relocated his family, his wife Melissa and 15-month-old son Oscar, to Sydney for this production. He says he couldn’t possibly have committed to the Sydney season had his family not been by his side.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a favourite of Hetherington’s going as far back as childhood. He says he always loved the 1988 film which resonated beautifully with him. “There was a sophisticated chemistry between Michael Caine and Steve Martin.”

Although he takes inspiration from Steve Martin’s film portrayal of Freddy, it was Norbert Leo Butz's interpretation of Freddy that he looked to. Hetherington saw him perform the role on Broadway for which he won a Tony Award.

Hetherington admits that it is daunting to carry the comedic mantle held by greats such as Steve Martin and Norbert Leo Butz, but there are benefits. In preview performances Hetherington has noted that the familiarity of the much loved character Ruprecht means the audience is already chuckling just at the mention of the name, long before Hetherington has actually made his appearance on stage.

Freddy’s opening number, Great Big Stuff, is a suitably energetic, almost hip hop routine. Hetherington then spends the second part of the show wheeling himself around stage in a wheelchair, physically taxing on the upper body. Hetherington laughs this aside as "performing arts yoga", but confides he does feel it the morning after.

Hetherington will be performing in the Sydney season of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels before heading off to the US next year.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is opening tonight at the Theatre Royal.


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