NED tells the story of an ordinary boy, born to an Irish immigrant family living in poverty in country Victoria. The son of a convict, Ned sees how poorly his family is being treated and learns never to trust a man in uniform. He sees how the selectors are at the mercy of the squatters. And he knows how hard his mother works to keep his family together.
When his father dies Ned becomes the man of the house, at just 12 years old. His first arrest is at 14 and by 16 he is serving time in Pentridge Prison for receiving a stolen horse. His life is shaping up to be one full of petty misdemeanours, theft and scuffles with authority.
Ned’s life takes a catastrophic turn when his mother Ellen is accused of attempted murder of Fitzpatrick, a local police officer. Ned takes to the bush with his brother Dan, and friends Steve and Joe, with plans to avenge this injustice. The boys are pursued fervently by the police. When they finally come upon each other, three policemen are killed one fateful night at Stringybark Creek. Suddenly Ned has killed. Men. Police officers, no less. Yet rather than being condemned, his legend begins to grow.
NED shows us how this man was made – his family, his friends and the warmth, strength and courage of the women who helped to shape his life. It shows us why we should care about a criminal from a century long past. It shows us why we celebrate him. It allows us see ourselves in his struggle.
With music and lyrics by Adam Lyon (King Kong), book by Anna Lyon and Marc McIntyre, direction by Gary Young, musical direction by Lochlan Mackenzie-Spencer and choreography by Michael Ralph, NED will be designed by Marc McIntyre with costumes by Emily Barrie and lighting design by Rob Sowinski.
Featuring Nelson Gardner (Ned), Penny Larkins (Ellen), Alana Tranter (Maggie), Hannah Fredericksen (Kate), Robert Tripolino (Dan), Connor Crawford (Joe), Brent Trotter (Steve), Will Rogers (Aaron), Nick Simpson-Deeks (Fitzpatrick) and Andrew Broadbent (Hare) as the principal cast, they will be supported by a stunning ensemble to bring this world premiere production to life.
With hauntingly beautiful melodies, raucous humour and a driving orchestral score that captures the sound of the Australian bush, NED will leave you humming while you ponder what it means to be Australian. The experience of NED will commence as you enter the theatre with a walk underneath the gallows on the site of the former Sandhurst Gaol, Bendigo’s new Ulumbarra Theatre.
Composer and lyricist of NED, Bendigo’s own Adam Lyon said, “I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to tell a truly regional story, written and produced by regional people, having its World Premiere here in Bendigo for the opening of the new Ulumbarra Theatre which has been amazingly integrated into the old Sandhurst Gaol.”
Prison cells will be left as is or repurposed to form cloaking and ticketing functions in the entrance hall of this new state-of-the-art theatre, which boasts 1000 seats, a fly tower, and a dark history involving ghosts, sieges and notorious former residents.
The world premiere season of NED will further build the city’s reputation as an important arts destination, along with attractions such as the Bendigo Art Gallery – which continues to grow in popularity as Australia’s largest and most impressive regional art museum. The musical’s premiere season coincides with the exhibition, Imagining Ned – the story of Ned Kelly, currently on display at the gallery until 28 June 2015.
NED – A New Australian Musical
Ulumbarra Theatre, Gaol Rd, Bendigo
Season: 22 – 31 May 2015
Bookings: (03) 5434 6100 or online at: www.ulumbarratheatre.com.au