Berlage’s banner year

With “an exceptional cast” and “machete-sharp” dancing, Alexander Berlage’s stage production of American Psycho at Hayes Theatre, Potts Point, swept the 2019 Sydney Theatre Awards.

Now the theatre director who graduated from The McDonald College in 2010 is following a well-worn path.

In recent years, many productions that have been successful at the 100-seat Hayes have been picked up for main stage encore seasons.

From June 3 the serial killer comedy will open at Sydney Opera House Playhouse.

As if that wasn’t enough of a breakthrough achievement for this year, barely four weeks after American Psycho’s season ends on June 27, Berlage will open another of his Hayes hits, Cry-Baby, in the Opera House Drama Theatre.

“Whenever you do a show at Hayes these days, you hope your show gets reviewed well and it will have further life,” Berlage said.

Berlage’s star is emphatically on the rise as the performing arts sector emerges from a dark year due to Covid closures.

Before American Psycho swept the 2019 Sydney Theatre Awards, Berlage in 2018 collected best direction and best production for Cry-Baby.

The star-crossed lovers musical comedy set in the 1950s is adapted from the John Waters’ film of the same name and packed with catchy tunes.

Berlage said the Opera House has wanted to stage Cry-Baby since that Hayes season, the inability to book international tours has resulted in it putting it on now.

The Opera House booked American Psycho within weeks of it closing at Hayes.

Key cast will return for both productions and Berlage has had the happy fortune of casting two former College students in American Psycho.

Erin Clare (alumnus 2007, as Erin McMurdo) and Daniel Ruso (alumnus 2006) appear alongside nine others.

He said it has been a comfort having the pair in the cast.

“It’s almost like a secret handshake. You have a lot of special bonds with other ex-students,” he said.

Berlage auditioned for dance in Year 7, before he switched to acting in year 8 and in later years also did some technical study.

He went on to study at NIDA but credits The McDonald College with instilling in him creative stamina and work ethic.

“I don’t think I’d be the person I am today without that school,” he said.

Alexander Berlage is a guest speaker at The McDonald College Principal’s Gala Dinner, May 29.