As one of the longest-running sci-fi TV series, The X-Files has amassed a legion of fans. And now this cult show has been adapted for the stage in a parody musical where Mulder and Scully happen upon a half-human, half-animal hybrid in the forest, with local actor Willem Whitfield taking on the role of Mulder. The truth may be out there, and so are plenty of laughs in this musical romp.
Though he is a self-confessed fan of The X-Files, Whitfield explains you don’t need to be an all-out fan to appreciate this show's themes, gags and songs like ‘Oh No! There’s Something out There!’. But there's still plenty to appease fans who've stuck by the show for all 11 seasons. To celebrate the Australian premiere of X-Files: The Musical, we spoke to Whitfield about the show's origins and Agent Mulder's secret addiction.
How did the The X-Files come to be adapted as a musical?
The Colonel Mustard Amateur Attic Theatre Company originally produced it in Nebraska. They’re well known for creating original parodies, and X Files: The Musical is one of their best.
This is the Australian premiere of the musical – was the timing planned to coincide with the return of the show, which has just wrapped up its 11th season?
Fox announced the 11th season of The X-Files in April 2017 and Brisbane Arts Theatre did their season launch in October 2017 ... I imagine that it was a mix of serendipity and careful planning.
Are you a long-time fan of The X-Files or are you new to this world of aliens and conspiracies? And how has this influenced your perspective of this production?
Yes, I’ve watched it on and off my entire life. I think that having such a good knowledge of the show meant that a lot of the jokes and references came very naturally to me.
Do you need to be a hardcore fan of The X-Files to appreciate this musical?
All you need to like are aliens and goofy comedy. The X-Files fans will appreciate the references, but there’s so much comedy packed in that nothing will be lost on you if you’ve never seen the show.
What’s the most interesting thing you have learned about Agent Mulder?
Only hardcore fans know this, but Mulder has a porn addiction! His apartment is littered with nudie mags and it’s never really addressed in the show.
Another cult classic you’ve worked on this year was the production of A Clockwork Orange. How have you transitioned from that role to this one?
A Clockwork Orange was very different and difficult to prepare for. There were a lot of fight scenes and violence, which took a look of careful choreography. Of course, emotionally, I also had to explore some very intense feelings and get into a mindset where I could enjoy all of the horror onstage.
X Files: The Musical is more improvisational and fun, so my main focus is just on being energetic and bouncing off the other actors.
You are really involved in Brisbane’s local theatre scene – what drew you to pursue a career in theatre?
I really don’t know what else I could do. I truly believe that a story that people enjoy has more power to change the world than any war or government ever can. Good art can show us all how to live up to our potential and survive in an uncaring world. The stories that we tell children shape them into the adults that they will become. To me, the theatre is a very direct and practical way to better all of mankind.
Can you tell us about the event you are producing for Anywhere Theatre Festival in May?
I’m producing and directing Z24, which will be a 14-hour live newscast of the upcoming apocalypse. It's a show anyone can be part of in the studio audience, streaming online or being interviewed in the news.
What upcoming shows are you looking forward to seeing in Brisbane?
I’m looking forward to seeing The Crucible and We Will Rock You at Brisbane Arts Theatre. Also Kiss of the Vampire Squid and many, many others through Anywhere Theatre Festival. I’m a big fan of local productions and I think that it’s vital that local artists are valued just as much as the big international acts that come through our city.
X-Files The Musical
15 April to 4 June
Brisbane Arts Theatre
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