After critical acclaim and sell out seasons, the ultimate male fantasy, The Graduate, is set to sizzle at Her Majesty's Theatre later this month.
Jerry Hall will reprise her role as seductress Mrs Robinson after having wowed audiences in this iconic piece of American culture in the West End, Toronto, Broadway, North America and most recently Perth. The play is adapted from Charles Webb’s novel and the Oscar winning film (screenplay Buck Henry) that shot Dustin Hoffman to fame and showcased the amazing versatility of Anne Bancroft.
We all know the plot of this classic coming off age story which follows recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock's journey toward finding himself — with detours including an affair with older family friend Mrs. Robinson and a budding romance with her daughter, Elaine. The actor lucky enough to be seduced on stage by the fabulously sexy Jerry Hall is Tim Dashwood who has followed in the footsteps of Hoffman and Jason Briggs, among others, to create the role of the sometimes hapless Benjamin Braddock. Dashwood is not surprisingly Mind. Blown. when asked to describe his feelings about sharing the stage with the amazing Hall. " Jerry has done so much – her life has been an incredible journey – and she is a stunning woman in so many ways," says Dashwood. "All I hear is how fantastic she is and down to earth, even in the light of everything she has experienced and done. It is a bit daunting knowing it’s going to happen and happen so quickly but I’m just keeping my eye on day one of rehearsals where the work will begin. She has done this role many times before across the world so learning from her will be an amazing experience"
Dashwood has been working as an actor since 2005 and has been very successful in many productions with the Queensland Theatre Company as well as roles in major productions such as Fame the Musical. Dashwood can't pin down the exact moment his chosen career was illuminated. His high school didn't offer drama as a subject so he chose music but he knew pretty quickly that he didn’t want to play in an orchestra, although performing was something pretty close to his heart. He watched lots of movies when he was young and also his father was heavily involved with a local community Music Theatre group. "So it was definitely lit then. Then it wasn’t until late high school I thought Acting was the way to go and got lots of support from my grandmother and mother to get me some help with my audition for University," he says." Luckily I was accepted and then through the three years at USQ, I learnt so much about what I had committed to and knew that it was something I was passionate about continuing to commit to."
Dashwood acknowledges that The Graduate is, on a personal level, a great career move but there is a deeper more poignant significance as well. " As a play, it brings to mind those moments I seem to always have of “What am I doing with my life?”. Benjamin as the successful Graduate, seems to have the world at his fingertips – privileged upbringing and a great education. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know what he should do and why. When the world is at your fingertips, what do you hold onto? This is the catalyst for the rest of the show – looking for an answer, finding a passion, realising it’s not what you want, finding another one and then questioning is that it? In a nutshell, that’s what I love about it. Then you have the significance of when it was written, the incredible stories of the book, the film, the soundtrack and now the play have had. It’s hugely significant and prolific," he says.
In a relatively short time, Dashwood has accumulated a very impressive body of work. Benjamin Braddock and The Graduate will soon be added to this but past experiences had proven to have had there own specific challenges and pressures. Dashwood lists managing Carmen last year for Queensland Theatre Company and Black Swan State Theatre Company as well as a world premiere David Williamson, (his first time directed by Wesley Enoch) playing an AFL ‘legend’ who is also a closet cross dresser. "The role itself was challenging because of the duplicity of the character," explains Dashwood. " On one hand, a shut off, almost childish but masculine footballer who is sure and confident on the football field but closed and stoic everywhere else to the polar opposite ‘Carmen’ who is everything Brent was not. Not to mention the high heels and designer dresses. All of that put together meant a challenge that worked and paid off and was a joy to be a part of – extremely enjoyable."
"I will also mention a one-off show I did – ‘The Blind Date Project’. In which an actress invited a new actor every night who she had never met, arrive at a bar (set in cabaret style) and spend up to 90 minutes performing a Blind Date. That was one of the scariest and most exciting things I have ever done on stage. Having to arrive with no idea what might happen, I had a bit of a back story and then just going with the flow. I guess, it will be similar arriving on the first day of rehearsals, meeting Jerry Hall and ‘going with the flow’!"
The Graduate really is as relevant today as it was the day it was written. ‘It is also set against a soundtrack of some of the most memorable songs of the sixties including Wouldn’t It Be Nice – by The Beach Boys, Everybody’s Talkin – by Harry Nilsson and, of course, The Sound Of Silence and Mrs Robinson – by Simon & Garfunkel. Dashwood agrees: "Without being clichéd, it is a timeless story. In fact Benjamin’s struggles are probably only getting harder and harder for young hopefuls with the world at their fingertips. The world is getting smaller after all. Also, Mrs Robinson is one of the earliest ‘Cougars’ – the original if you will. It isn’t as cut and dry as that but even though it is entrenched in the 60s, the problems facing the characters are still relevant to those people fifty years on. Also, starting as a book, then a film and more recently the stage show has meant it has subtlety been allowed to grow and develop into it’s own. The play is probably the funniest instalment which allows the bleakness and blackness of the story live in the comedy that surrounds it making it more accessible to audiences."
HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE, MELBOURNE
From September 21st 2013 for a STRICTLY LIMITED SEASON
NEW TICKETS NOW ON SALE