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Mitchell Butel

About Mitchell Butel

Mitchell Butel Headshot

Mitchell Butel has been Artistic Director of State Theatre Company South Australia since March 2019.

Mitchell holds four Helpmann Awards, four Sydney Theatre Awards and two Victorian Green Room Awards for his work as a director, actor and writer in Australian theatre over three decades. He has also worked in New York, London, Hong Kong and New Zealand. He has worked extensively for State Theatre Company South Australia, Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre, Belvoir, Bell Shakespeare, Griffin, Malthouse, Opera Australia, Sydney Chamber Opera, Pinchgut Opera, The Production Company, David Atkins Enterprises, New Theatricals, Gordon Frost Organisation, The Hayes Theatre, New Victory Theatre, Southbank Centre, London and for the Sydney, Adelaide and Perth Festivals on over 150 professional productions incorporating classical repertoire, new Australian work, contemporary international writing, music theatre and opera. Mitchell also holds two AFI nominations for his work as an actor in Australian feature films. Mitchell was named in The Australian’s inaugural Top 100 Arts and Culture List in 2022.

During Mitchell’s tenure at State Theatre Company South Australia, the Company has increased subscriptions, single ticket sales and new audiences; received multiple Adelaide Ruby Awards; was the first Australian theatre company to return to the mainstage after the 2020 Covid lockdown and during that lockdown, the Company also broadcast one of the world’s largest digital theatre offerings with the acclaimed 9-hour series Decameron 2.0. In 2022, the Company’s co-production of Girl from the North Country became the highest selling show in its 50-year history. In 2023, the Company’s sold-out co-production of The Dictionary of Lost Words became the highest attended production on record in the 49-year history of Dunstan Playhouse. 2023 also saw the most extensive national and international touring schedule in the Company’s history with tours of Girls & Boys, The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, The Dictionary of Lost Words, The Boy Who Talked to Dogs and Euphoria.

For the Company, Mitchell has directed Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (co-production with Belvoir St Theatre and Melbourne Theatre Company), Edward Albee’s The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? (co-production with Sydney Theatre Company), Girls & Boys (and tours to Sydney Festival and Theatre Royal, Hobart), Hibernation, Ripcord, associate directed Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (a co-production with Queensland Theatre and presentation by Sydney Festival), and co-created, produced and directed Decameron 2.0. In 2024, he will direct The Questions and co-direct Candide for the Company.

Mitchell’s other directing credits include the Sydney and Melbourne seasons of the Hayes Theatre/Blue Saint production of Jeanine Tesori’s Violet which received three Sydney Theatre Awards including Best Director of a Musical and Best Production of an Independent Musical, Spring Awakening (Australian Theatre for Young People) which won the Sydney Theatre Award’s Best Production for Young People, Porgy and BessThe Bernstein Songbook and Funny Girl (all for Sydney Symphony Orchestra), Candide (Sydney Opera House/Sydney Philharmonia), An Act of God (Darlinghurst Theatre Company, co-director), Marjorie Prime and Croon Tunes (Ensemble Theatre), Approximate Balance (Griffin Theatre Lysicrates Prize winner), Dead Cat Bounce (Griffin Theatre), Excellent Adventures (Chapel Off Chapel and Noosa Festivals), Killing Time (which he also wrote) (Adelaide, Brisbane and Summersalt Cabaret Festivals), Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline or Change (Hayes Theatre), The Loves of Apollo and Dafne (Pinchgut Opera) and The Blessing (Coriole Music Festival).

Mitchell has also had a long association with the Adelaide Cabaret Festival: writing, directing and performing in Killing Time and Moments in the Woods: Songs and Stories of Stephen Sondheim, performing in My Vagabond Boat and directing the Variety Galas from 2021 to 2024.

Mitchell wrote the book of the musical Starstruck (RGM Productions) has also written material for the Sydney Festival/Malthouse production of Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl, the Malthouse/Belvoir production of The Government Inspector and Opera Australia’s The Mikado and was the co-writer and co-host of the 2019 Helpmann Awards broadcast on ABC TV.

His performing highlights in theatre, music theatre and opera include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, The Merchant of Venice (as Shylock for which he won the Sydney Theatre Award for Best Actor), Mr Burns (Helpmann Award Best Supporting Actor), Dance NationBiographicaDisgraced, Arms and the Man, South Pacific, Angels in America, The Government Inspector, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Face to Face, Romeo and Juliet, Strange Interlude, Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl, Othello, Summer Rain, The Venetian Twins (Helpmann Award Best Actor in a Musical), The Mikado (Helpmann Award Best Actor), Assassins, Avenue Q (Helpmann Award Best Actor), Stones in his Pockets, Little Me, Mourning Becomes Electra, Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, Little Shop of Horrors, Holy Day, The Laramie Project, A View from the Bridge, A Life In Three Acts, The Madwoman of Chaillot, Tartuffe, Tomfoolery, Urinetown, Dead Heart, A View from the Bridge, The Café Latte Kid, Summer of the Aliens and Six Degrees of Separation. He most recently played Ned Weeks in the STCSA production of The Normal Heart. For 20 years, he was also the voice of the Play School theme song.

His film and TV highlights include Austin, A Sunburnt ChristmasStatelessDance Academy, Holding the Man, Gettin’ Square (AFI nomination), The Bank, Strange Fits of Passion (AFI nomination), Dark City, Deep Water, Hiding, Janet King, The Broken Shore, Rake, Grass Roots, Wildside and Bordertown.

Mitchell has been fortunate to either direct or act with artists such as Cate Blanchett, David Wenham, Richard Roxburgh, Toni Collette, Pamela Rabe, Geoffrey Rush, Madga Szubanksi, Heath Ledger, William Hurt, Robyn Nevin, Megan Washington, Kanen Breen, Stacey Alleaume, Rose Byrne, Colin Friels, Judy Davis, Kerry Fox, Anthony Warlow, Ursula Yovich, Miranda Otto, Garry McDonald, Marta Dusseldorp, Damon Herriman, Lisa McCune, Caroline O’Connor, Hugo Weaving, Kat Stewart, Shaun Micallef, Meow Meow, Tina Arena, Marcia Hines, Tim Minchin, Timothy Spall, Bernadette Peters, Anthony LaPaglia, Guy Pearce, Alan Cumming, Zahra Newman, Claudia Karvan, Justine Clarke and Jacki Weaver.

Mitchell holds a Bachelor of Arts (Theatre Studies) from the University of New South Wales. He was the Deputy President of Actors Equity and Vice President of the Media Entertainment Arts Alliance from 2009 to 2013 and was a member of the National Performers Committee from 2007 to 2018. He was a Board Member of Belvoir Theatre from 2012 to 2019 and was a Trustee of the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust from 2021 to 2023. Mitchell is also an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Institute of Music.