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The Creatives

Sexercise – The Musical is a comedy about finding happiness and getting fit without lycra.

Producers, Aleksandar Vass and Malcolm C. Cooke lead an acclaimed team of creatives in this Melbourne written and produced musical, along with accomplished executive producer Kate Whitbread, showcasing their calibre of expertise in this enormously entertaining production directed by Sara Grenfell.

Writer and composer Derek Rowe has not only written the book to Sexercise – The Musical, but also the music and lyrics to this fun and playful show. Head designer Adrienne Chisholm displays her showcase of talents in exploring a couple's journey to repair their relationship through vibrant costume and set design.

Sexercise – The Musical’s stage band is led by musical director Trevor Jones and sets the pace with a lively, rocking score of tunes and the choreography is by Dana Jolly, who most recently worked on The Production Company’s Show Boat.

Aleksandar Vass – Producer

alekAleksandar Vass studied drama at The National Theatre in St Kilda in the late 1970s.  He was bitten by the theatre bug from a very early age, performing in a number of musicals, plays and television series in the early ‘80s before becoming Australia’s youngest agent representing over 300 artists. He was Victorian president of the Theatrical Agents Association for several years.

In the mid ‘80s, Alex moved into producing with shows including Fiddler on the roof with Topol, It’s A Dad Thing, All My Sons, Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat, Burn this, Amadeus, Hair, Barnum, Noises Off, Chase Me Comrade, Hamlet, Evita, Copacabana, A Street Car Named Desire , The Blue Room and the play 8 to name a few.

He partnered Kate Whitbread and Spencer McLaren to form MOMO Films to produce and distribute films throughout Australia. Their films include Surviving Georgia, which starred Shane Jacobsen, Pia Miranda and Holly Valance and Cloudburst with Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker.

In the late ‘90s Alex wrote a book Sexercise for fun with two colleagues, Kym Carter and Jane Thornton. It was an idea based on facts he received on calorie loss during different acts of making love. It was meant to be fun as well as encouraging. The book sold many copies. It was this book that inspired Malcolm Cooke to commission a script and music and Alex was very surprised and delighted when he was approached with the completed version of a musical comedy referenced to his book. This is the musical he had been searching for.

Malcolm C. Cooke –Producer

Malcolm Cooke started his career in music and was the assistant tour manager for the Beatles’ Australian tour in 1964. Many rock concerts followed until he swung over to live theatre and produced such long running smash hits as The Black and White Minstrel Show, the musicals Charlie Girl (which starred the late Dame Anna Neagle, Derek Nimmo and introduced John Farnham in his first stage role) and the original production of Godspell which ran for five years in Australia. There were also two tours by Marlene Dietrich, which he managed.

With Mike Walsh as his co-producer, he created Isn't it Pathetic at his Age, which brought Barry Humphries back to Australia after his first New York show.  Other credits include A Star Is Torn, which launched Robyn Archer as a star, his first Broadway musical in the 1980's, Marilyn, and Boswell For The Defence based on a real life character the lawyer, James Boswell

Malcolm discovered the world of puppetry when he produced a national tour of Tolkien's The Hobbit, followed by C.S. Lewis’s story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This led to him being asked to create an arena version of the BBC's hit seven-part television series

Walking With Dinosaurs as a live show. This meant bringing dinosaurs back to life and the result was the spectacular arena production Walking With Dinosaurs which has been one of the great success stories of Australian theatre.

Kate Whitbread – Executive Producer

Kate Whitbread – Executive ProducerKate Whitbread is a graduate of the National Theatre Drama School. Kate worked as an actor on various film and Television projects including Evil Angels, Blue Heelers, The Magistrate, Country Practice, Neighbours, The Adman for Playbox (alongside Shane Bourne) and had an ongoing role as Kelly the vet in over 70 episodes of Bush Patrol, a children’s series for Channel 7.

She has worked as a freelance Producer on a number of TV pilots and series and worked as Associate Producer for Rosenbaum Whitbread productions.  In 2002 she raised private finance to produce the independent low budget film Deeper Than Blue. The film was invited to screen at the 50th Sydney film festival, and was officially selected to screen at the Rencontres Internationales du Cinema des Antipodes at St Tropez.

Kate produced the feature film The Caterpillar Wish, which is currently being distributed in Australia and NZ by Palace Films and in the US by IFM.  The Caterpillar Wish won both an AFI for Suzie Porter’s performance in a Supporting Role and an IF Award for Best Production Design. Kate is co-owner of MOMOfilms, which produced the feature film Surviving Georgia with Holly Valance, Pia Miranda and Shane Jacobson.  Kate Co directed the film with her long-time associate Sandra Sciberras.

Kate is currently developing various feature films and TV series through her Production Company and is a Member of The Arts Victoria Advisory Panel.

Derek Rowe – Writer and Composer

Derek Rowe – Writer and ComposerDerek Rowe is a writer, composer, musician, actor, teacher and corporate trainer.

Some of his previous theatre credits include music and lyrics for the award winning children’s production Tadpole (Melbourne Fringe Festival), contributing lyrics for John Michael Howson’s musical More Sex Please, We’re Seniors, and his own solo show My Incredible Shrinking Life, critically acclaimed at the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2011.

As a musician and arranger Derek has worked for many years for the comedians Sammy J and Randy, including on the 2010 Barry Award winning Ricketts Lane and currently on their upcoming ABC TV special. Derek lives in Footscray to be close to his beloved Western Bulldogs.

Sexercise – The Musical is Derek’s first full -length stage musical in which he has written the book, music and lyrics.  Based on the quality of this work he was next commissioned to write the music and lyrics for another major stage musical which is currently in development by producers Cooke and Vass.

Sara Grenfell – Director

Sara Grenfell – DirectorSara is a WAAPA Graduate, and has a BA in English from Curtain University and a Post Graduate Degree in Radio Journalism from Charles Sturt University.

As an Actor she has appeared all over Australia. Her most recent performances include Home Sick (Big West Festival – Melbourne), Femme Fatale (MCA), Every Single Saturday (New Australian Musical – NIDA/Australian tour), Sunset Boulevard (Melbourne State Theatre), The Misanthrope, Fallen Angels, Art of Penetration (Belvoir Street), Earth Girls are Easy (STC), Wizard of Oz (Lyric Theatre), The Treatment, Boston Marriage (Darlinghurst Theatre) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Sydney Botanical Gardens).

She has successfully produced several shows including the award winning Fit to be Tied and A Respectable Wedding. As a Journalist Sara has produced for Late Nite Live and Arts Today on Radio National and for 9 years Presented, wrote and produced her own Arts program on Eastside Radio.

Her writing and directing credits include Big Mob a Good Times, Village Wooing, My Life in Art, The Girl with the Green Ear, Beef Queens, 18 Years of Therapy, Femme Fatale, Working, Food, Fetish and Frivolity, Smash Hit and numerous Cabaret shows.  She has taught at The Australian Actor’s Centre, NIDA, AIM, ACTT, National theatre Drama School, Centrestage, Federation University School of Performing Arts, VCA and at ATYP for 20 years. She has also run Acting workshops for seniors and people with disability. Sara currently Directs, and teaches Acting at VCA, NIDA and various Drama schools in Melbourne.

Trevor Jones – Musical Director

Trevor Jones – Musical DirectorTrevor is in demand around Australia and internationally as a musical director, conductor, arranger, educator and performer. He was the recipient of the 2011 Brian Stacey Award for Emerging Australian Conductors and works in a wide variety of musical styles and genres.

Trevor is currently the Artistic Director of CitiOpera (formerly Melbourne City Opera) and Choristry, a classical choral ensemble. He regularly tours internationally, conducting large scale concert tours in major venues throughout mainland China with Broadway performers including Lisa Vroman and Brad Little as well as Australian singers and orchestral musicians. 

Trevor was Head of Voice and Associate Musical Director of the Victorian State Schools Spectacular from 2011 – 2014. Music Theatre credits include Next to Normal (Doorstep Arts), Titanic (Helen Macpherson-Smith Theatre, Ballarat) and Dear World (Magnormos Productions). He was also the Musical Director of Twisted Broadway at the Victorian Arts Centre in 2014 featuring many of Australia's leading musical theatre performers. Trevor is a staff member at the Victorian College of the Arts, teaching singing and musical theatre history in the Drama and Musical Theatre departments.

Adrienne Chisholm – Designer

Adrienne Chisholm – DesignerOriginally trained as a Graphic Designer, Adrienne later went on to complete a post-graduate diploma in Theatre Design at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1996.

Since then Adrienne has designed Sets, Costumes and puppets for such companies as: Melbourne Theatre Company, Sydney Theatre Company, Playbox, Melbourne Workers Theatre, Circus Oz, Back to Back, Polyglot Puppet Theatre, The Wiggles, The Eleventh Hour, Platform Youth Theatre, Danceworks, Ariette Taylor Productions,  Chookahs Festival 2005 and 2006, costuming for the Speigel Tent, Carnegie 18, Tilt Program Launch, Fly by night (all for the Victorian Arts Centre), Gasworks, Lunchtime Theatre, Yana Alana and the Piranhas Cabaret Seasons , Essential Theatre, Paradigm productions, Ballarat University’s Productions of The Kitchen and Working, Weave Movement theatre, Syncopation and Café Rebetika for The Follies Company, Ivanov, The Lower depths, Progress and Melancholy
and Café Scherezade for 45 Downstairs.

Adrienne has been Costume designer for HIT Productions for several years for which her work includes Cosi, Driving Miss Daisy, Motherhood the Musical, Furiously Fertile, The Sum of Us, Let the Sunshine, Diving for Pearls, The Club, Menopause the Musical, It’s my party and I will die if I want to, and most recently David Williamsons When Dad Married Fury, all of which have toured Nationally. She was a founding member of the highly acclaimed The Keene/Taylor Theatre Project designing sets and costumes for all of their seasons. She has received a Green Room Award for her Set Design for The Burlesque Hour. She is currently working on a production of Dreamers for the recently reformed Keene/Taylor Theatre Project, which will be seen later in the year as a co-production with 45 Downstairs.

Dana Jolly – Choreographer

Dana Jolly – ChoreographerDana’s career began at the age of 9, when she played Gypsy Rose Lee as a child in the musical Gypsy at Her Majesty’s Theatre Melbourne. Dana then went on to train at the Victorian College of Arts, where she received a number of Scholarships to further her career. Before travelling overseas, Dana danced with the Victorian State Opera and the Australian Contemporary Dance Company.

Dana then moved to London, where she spent 10 years between1989 – 1999 dancing and choreographing in the UK, Europe, Scandinavia and Japan. Her credits include Wayne Sleeps Hollywood and Broadway UK Tour, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, Song and Dance UK & Europe tour, Royal Variety Performance, British Music Awards, National Music Express Awards London, Shall we Dance tour, and Winter Olympics Norway.

She has worked with such artists as Ray Charles, Madonna, Gloria Estefan, East 17, Cliff Richards, The Kinks, Prince, Ewan Mc Gregor, Alexei Sayle, Ronnie Corbett, Hale and Pace, Michael Ball and Michael Crawford to name a few. Dana returned to Australia as Resident Choreographer on Susan Stromans Showboat for which she received a Green Room Award Nomination, and was then invited to go back to Europe to Co-choreograph and stage The Miss World Competition.

Dana is really excited to be working on this brand new Australian production of ‘Sexercise – The Musical’.