A fictionalised story inspired by the life of Jimmy Little, Queensland Theatre Company together with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre will celebrate the world premiere of Country Song at the Cremorne Theatre from 4 July 2015.
Country Song is a beautiful, musical, witty and warming journey that celebrates the healing power of music. It will take you on a heartfelt journey with toe-tapping tunes and larger-than-life characters.
Jimmy Little is waiting backstage. He’s been asked to perform the national anthem, in front of an audience that love him and his music. He is an Australian icon; an entertainer first and foremost. But what does it mean to sing this song now? Does it matter? Who is he really singing for?
In Country Song, Jimmy is whisked on a fictional road trip to his past as his story weaves through the history of major social changes of the 1970¹s. Along the way we hear stories of singers Auriel Andrew, Bobby McLeod and Lionel Rose in this tribute to the era and the music that was a soundtrack for a generation.
Once a smiling, cheeky child of Vaudevillians, now a poster boy for Indigenous performers, Jimmy takes us through the thoughts of an artist who must weigh up the political power of his voice. Filled with well-known tunes, Country Song is a beautiful, musical, witty and warming journey that celebrates the healing power of music.
Acclaimed actor and musician Michael Tuahine came up with the original idea for Country Song after being inspired by Walk the Line. Reg Cribb won the 2013 Rodney Seaborn Playwright’s Award for New Work. Tuahine will play the lead, Jimmy Little, and had a close relationship with the performer after the pair met in 2001.
“When Jimmy said to me, ‘Boy, you are doing a good job’, it was like a blessing from an elder,” said Michael Tuahine – a passionate country music fan. “Jimmy and I were mates, we would talk on the phone, we toured together – I followed him everywhere. One day over lunch, I said to Jimmy I’d love the opportunity to play him, sing his songs and tell his story. He liked the idea.”
Following Jimmy’s death in 2012, Tuahine shared his idea with Queensland Theatre Company’s Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch. Country Song is built on stories that aren’t widely known. Jimmy’s biggest hit, Royal Telephone was a No. 1 song in Australia in 1963 and topped the charts ahead of The Beatles and Elvis, yet he couldn’t perform in many clubs and pubs because he was Indigenous. He challenged what people thought of Indigenous performers with his sheer talent and charisma.
“In my culture, you become the custodian of a story and you tell it to the best of your ability,” said Tuahine. “That’s what Reg Cribb, the writer, and I are trying to do. We want to celebrate and capture the integrity and wonderment of who Jimmy was. We want to share his life, his incredible music and his impact on other musicians.”
Director: Wesley Enoch Cast: Elaine Crombie, Bradley McCaw, Megan Sarmardin, Michael Tuahine, Tibian Wyles, David Page Original Concept: Michael Tuahine Playwright: Reg Cribb Musical Director: Jamie Clark Assistant Director: Jason Klarwein Dramaturg: Louise Gough Designer: Josh McIntosh Lighting Designer: Jason Glenwright Sound Designers: Matt Erskine & Justin Harrison Projection Designers: optikal bloc
Cremorne Theatre – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, Southbank (Brisbane)
Season: 4 July – 8 August 2015
Bookings: 13 62 46 or online at: www.qpac.com.au
For more information, visit: www.queenslandtheatre.com.au for details.
Image: Michael Tuahine as Jimmy Little in Country Song (supplied)