Michael and Phillip – Behind the Scenes

These images reflect the process of bringing Michael and Phillip Are Getting Married in the Morning to the stage for Melbourne Fringe at Gasworks Arts Park.

Spring/Summer 2016/17: Wayne Stellini spent weeks scrawling ideas and scenes in a notebook before typing them up as a polished first draft. (The play went through seven further edits, including a drastic extension of Act III.)


10 November 2016: Wayne Stellini began typing up the first draft of the play. At his computer’s side is the notebook he carried with him, in which he would write scenes and ideas over breakfast at Starbucks before going to work.


25 April 2017: David McNamara and Ryan Stewart fool around on a cold Melbourne morning during the first photo shoot for the ‘Michael and Phillip Are Getting Married in the Morning’ marketing campaign.


17 May: Before the official rehearsal process begins, the cast partake in weeks of team bonding exercises. Here they are in the third week of such exercises, where movement and unity were the theme.


24 May: Ben Campbell and David McNamara in an improvisation exercise as brothers Blaine and Michael. Creating stories and character arcs outside of the script helps actors inform what happens in the final performed narrative, even if an audience is never exposed to it.


31 May: The cast continue to work together to build rapport with one another. It was stressed during the audition process that team trust would be essential to create a cohesive show.


31 May: David McNamara and Hayden Gridley in an improvisation exercise that leads into a scripted scene. Their body language alone tells so much about their characters.


7 June: Ryan Stewart masters the “Phillip sulk” in an improvisation exercise.


7 June: Hayden Gridley channels his natural charm into the role of Simon. Here he is, oblivious to the trouble he is causing, in an improvisation exercise.


7 June: Ryan Stewart and Bethany Griffiths in an improvisation exercise.


7 June: Playing father and son, Jeffrey Bryant Jones grills Ben Campbell in an improvisation session. Ben brought his cheeky persona to the exercise, resulting in much laughter from the room.


7 June: David McNamara experiences Hayden Gridley’s puppy dog eyes during rehearsal.


7 June: Jeffrey Bryant Jones and David McNamara rehearse an intense scene together for the first time—only possible after five weeks or workshopping and trust exercises.


14 June: When Blaine met Simon… Ben Campbell (right) and Hayden Gridley rehearsing their first encounter.


14 June: The cast reflect on their work and take notes during a break in scene rehearsals. Left to right: Anna Reardon, Ryan Stewart, David McNamara (on floor), executive producer Michael R. Lister (sitting at the back), Ben Campbell, and Hayden Gridley.


14 June: Bethany Griffiths and Ryan Stewart projecting uneasiness as the plot thickens.


14 June: As the Bride, Bethany Griffiths is amused by the suffering she causes Phillip (Ryan Stewart).


14 June: The pain doesn’t end for Phillip (Ryan Stewart)… In fact it intensifies when Tally (Anna Reardon) is around!


14 June: Ryan Stewart and Anna Reardon read through lines before their characters’ fight scene.


14 June: It’s on! Ryan Stewart and Anna Reardon practice a fight between Phillip and Tally carefully.


14 June: Everything is a competition for Phillip (Ryan Stewart) and Tally (Anna Reardon)… even Blaine’s (Ben Campbell) friendship.


14 June: Ben Campbell and Anna Reardon go over some lines.


14 June: The relationship between Blaine (Ben Campbell) and Phillip (Ryan Stewart) is brotherly.


14 June: Here Phillip (Ryan Stewart) reads his vows to Blaine (Ben Campbell)…


14 June: The Bride (Bethany Griffiths) continues to cause headaches for Phillip (Ryan Stewart).


14 June: Phillip’s (Ryan Stewart) dislike for Tally (Anna Reardon) is evident.


14 June: Hayden Gridley captures the innocence of Simon perfectly.


14 June: Ryan Stewart practices the “Phillip sulk”.


14 June: The Bride (Bethany Griffiths) comforts Phillip (Ryan Stewart).


14 June: Rehearsing the moment when Michael (David McNamara) is ready to push Simon (Hayden Gridley) out of his apartment. Notice how Hayden holds an imaginary sandwich in one hand and holds his script (representing a plate) with the other. As rehearsals went on, Hayden would use this scene to snack when his colleagues couldn’t!


14 June: An oblivious Simon (Hayden Gridley) outstays his welcome. David McNamara’s body language showcases Michael’s frustration perfectly.


14 June: Three’s a crowd? Never! David McNamara, Hayden Gridley, and Anna Reardon rehearsing their first scene as a threesome.


14 June: Simon (Hayden Gridley) looks on as Michael (David McNamra) and Tally (Anna Reardon) chat.


21 June: Ryan Stewart takes a selfie in-between scene rehearsals and places some rainbow-coloured sunglasses on co-star Anna Reardon. Thankfully, the hostility felt between their characters is left on the stage! (Image courtesy of Ryan Stewart and reproduced with permission.)


28 June: It all begins with a shove… Ryan Stewart and Anna Reardon rehearse one of many tense moments between their characters, Phillip and Tally.


28 June: Bethany Griffiths doodles on her script as she waits for her cue.


28 June: Weeks of trust exercises and workshops allow for moments such as this, in which Tally (Anna Reardon) kisses Blaine (Ben Campbell), to be rehearsed without trepidation. Ryan Stewart waits for his cue.


28 June: Michael (David McNamara) marvels at Simon’s (Hayden Gridley) beauty… even when he makes a pig of himself.


28 June: Naturally, trouble follows Tally (Anna Reardon), but that’s what Michael (David McNamara) and Simon (Hayden Gridley) like about her… for now!


28 June: Simon (Hayden Gridley; right) only has eyes for Tally (Anna Reardon), whose priority is her friendship with Michael (David McNamara; left)


28 June: Jeffrey Bryant Jones and Anna Reardon rehearsing a scene that bounces from comedy to drama and back again.


28 June: The character of Michael was written with David McNamara in mind. Director Wayne Stellini, who first worked with the adaptable actor the previous year, said, ‘Approaching David to play the lead role of Michael and seeing his stellar audition for the part reiterated what an extraordinary talent he is.’


28 June: Tally (Anna Reardon) and Simon (Hayden Gridley) enjoy the show as Graeme (Jeffrey Bryant Jones) and Michael (David McNamara) square off.


5 July: Ryan Stewart takes a long train-ride to and from an exhausting evening’s rehearsal. The actor’s feet are resting on a suitcase of costume options, as his character Phillip has three distinctive wardrobe looks throughout the show. (Image courtesy of Ryan Stewart and reproduced with permission.)


5 July: Led by director Wayne Stellini and executive producer Michael R. Lister, the crew spent an afternoon discussing elements of the set build. This is one of the ideas regarding the building of a wall with a rotating inner panel; each representing either Michael or Phillip’s apartment. This design concept was scrapped two days later after discussions with a professional set designer, despite being the original aesthetic concept for the show.


5 July: Tally (Anna Reardon) is ready to party. Won’t be long before she spots the bottle!


5 July: Hayden Gridley and David McNamara rehearse their first meeting.


5 July: Having just fond the perfect dress, Bethany Griffiths and Ryan Stewart are now able to rehearse in full costume.


5 July: Ryan Stewart, Ben Campbell, and Anna Reardon rehearse; Anna is well and truly off book at this stage.


5 July: Ryan Stewart and that gorgeous “Phillip scowl”.


5 July: During his audition, it was emphasised to Hayden Gridley that the character of Simon prioritised his own aesthetics and always believed that he was always the most beautiful person in the room. Here, Hayden projects Simon’s knowing confidence as he talks to Phillip on the phone.


5 July: Phillip faces a number of verbal, emotional, mental, and physical confrontations throughout the show, hence Ryan Stewart’s perfect “Phillip sulk”.


5 July: The Bride (Bethany Griffiths) comforts Phillip (Ryan Stewart) in this scene rehearsal, which is far more telling now that the pair are in costume.


5 July: Simon (Hayden Gridley) isn’t only the one who appreciates his aesthetics. Michael (David McNamara) is overwhelmed at the young man’s beauty and Tally (Anna Reardon) often has her hands all over him.


5 July: Two peas in a pod… Anna Reardon and Hayden Gridley were quick to develop rapport and trust, making the transition to Tally and Simon easier.


5 July: Tally (Anna Reardon) is often the source of humour when the show takes a dark turn, such as when Graeme (Jeffrey Bryant Jones) enters.

5 July: Jeffrey Bryant Jones and David McNamara rehearsing their first confrontation.


12 July: Ben Campbell and David McNamara muck around during a set dressing photo shoot.


19 July: Ben Campbell and Ryan Stewart rehearse the moment when Phillip reads his work-in-progress vows to best friend Blaine.


20 July: Fulya Kantarmaci and Wayne Stellini’s visit to Gasworks Theatre had them overwhelmed that in two months time, Michael and Phillip Are Getting Married in the Morning would have its world premiere!


26 July: l-r: David McNamara and Hayden Gridley read over a scene; Ben Campbell learns his lines with the help of Jeffrey Bryant Jones; Ryan Stewart and Anna Reardon rehearse a scene. This image is  one of director Wayne Stellini’s favourite production shots; he is explains why here.


2 August: With over three months of trust-building, workshops, and rehearsals together, Anna Reardon and Ryan Stewart fall in and out of their characters with apparent ease.


16 August: Ryan Stewart and Bethany Griffiths prepare to begin a character workshop exercise.


16 August: The dress maketh the character! Bethany Griffiths as the Bride.


16 August: Ryan Stewart and Hayden Gridley going through lines.


16 August: Actor Ben Campbell relaxes before an intensive evening of workshops and rehearsals.


16 August: Ryan Stewart and Hayden Gridley well into their scene rehearsal.


16 August: Hayden Gridley masters Simon’s cheeky smile.


16 August: Anna Reardon and Hayden Gridley in an imporvisation workshop.


16 August: Bethany Griffiths and Ben Campbell improvise a scene between their characters.


16 August: David McNamara and Ryan Stewart are Michael and Phillip!


16 August: Jeffrey Bryant Jones in a workshop exercise with Phillip Hunting.


16 August: Phillip Hunting as the Father Rob in an imporvisation exercise.


16 August: Ryan Stewart in a playful conversation with David McNamara.


16 August: David McNamara as Michael, smitten by Phillip (Ryan Stewart).


16 August: Anna Reardon slips into character with ease… the mischievous smile says it all!


16 August: In this improvised character development exercise, the Priest (Phillip Hunting) listens to the Bride’s (Bethany Griffiths) confession.


16 August: Phillip Hunting, as the Priest, listening intently.


16 August: Jeffrey Bryant Jones, amused by Hayden Gridley’s improvised Simon performance.


16 August: Of all the cast, Anna Reardon and Ryan Stewart perhaps have the most fun when they are paired together for an improvisation exercise.


16 August: Jeffrey Bryant Jones as Graeme.


16 August: Phillip Hunting as the Priest, referred to as Father Rob during rehearsals.


16 August: Ryan Stewart in deep discussion during an improvisation exercise.


16 August: Bethany Griffiths as the Bride.


16 August: Jeffrey Bryant Jones and David McNamara in an intense workshop exercise.


16 August: David McNamara as Michael, in deep thought during an improvisation exercise. The actor’s body language says it all.


16 August: Phillip Hunting as the jovial Father Rob.


 

 

 

 

 

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