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Bunbury’s Lachlann Lawton to dip toes into musical theatre realm in WA Opera’s production of Into the Woods

Headshot of Carly Laden
Carly LadenSouth Western Times
Bunbury-raised Lachlann Lawton is in for a big year in 2023.
Camera IconBunbury-raised Lachlann Lawton is in for a big year in 2023. Credit: ADB IMAGERY/WA Opera

A South West-raised opera singer is set to dip his toes into the realm of musical theatre as the West Australian Opera gets ready to perform a beloved fairytale musical.

Lachlann Lawton is set to star in WA Opera’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods during an eight-show run at Perth’s His Majesty’s Theatre from Friday March 24 to Saturday April 1.

Into the Woods puts a spin on the classic fairytales everyone knows and loves where beloved characters from Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White intertwine.

Speaking to the South Western Times ahead of opening night, Lawton said the rehearsal process had been different to what he was used to in opera productions.

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“There’s a lot more spoken text in this than there would be in an opera and there’s a lot more movement which is not my strong suit but I’m absolutely doing my best,” he said.

“There’s a fair bit of choreography in this one that has to be done very specifically so that’s a lot of fun but it’s also hard work.

“The musical theatre people in this show who are professionals at that just pick it up so quickly and the opera singers are like ‘alright let’s go, we’ve got to learn it really fast’.

“We had our last big choreography call (on Monday) and it all looks pretty schmick.”

During the production, Lawton will take on the dual roles of The Wolf and The Prince, roles made famous by Cheyenne Jackson and Chuck Wagner on stage, as well as Johnny Depp and Chris Pine in the 2014 film adaptation.

Lawton said he had been working on a way to show a big difference between the characters, as well as mentally preparing himself for chaotic quick changes during the show.

“The Wolf, which is near the start of the musical is a really great fun part to play,” he said.

“I get to dress up as a grandma as well so you’ve got the Wolf dressing up as a grandma which is crazy in itself.

“Then I have a really quick costume change from the Wolf to the Prince.

“I’ve got two different voices that I use.

“The one that I use for the Wolf is more of a speaking voice and then when I get to the Prince I’m very pomp and circumstance and trite — essentially trying to sound like I’m an upper class British person which is fun.

“A lot of it is to do with the movement as well.

“The Wolf is quite animalistic, running around on stage, climbing up stairs and jumping up and down, while the Prince is a bit more noble.”

It comes after Lawton, an avid cricket fan, previously starred in WA Opera’s performances of Carmen, which took over the iconic WACA last month.

Lawton said he was constantly pinching himself while walking out on to the turf.

“I would spend a good eight or nine minutes staring at the pitch while everyone was getting ready,” he said.

“I know what’s happened on this pitch and I had these moments of knowing I was standing where Ricky Ponting stood so I loved that.

“We also had a couple of rehearsal days where we could just mosey around the venue when we weren’t needed on stage and the first thing I did was make my way to the Australian box where the home team would normally be.

“I just love the history of the ground and that it’s the fastest bowling ground in Australia for pace — it’s awesome.”

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