On the Couch with Jon Jackson

Arts Review On the Couch Jon JacksonWho is Jon Jackson?
He’s a theatre, opera and cabaret singer with a 30 year career, based in Melbourne

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would have taken some opportunities when I was younger that I turned down. I didn’t think I was ready, but I probably should have given it a shot.

Who inspires you and why?
My late maternal grandmother Jean Hansen. She raised 8 children through the Great Depression and World War 2 and didn’t lose one. Her struggles really put mine in perspective. My life is a dream compared to hers, but she was still a kind, loving and generous woman.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would like to help turn our world into a more peaceful place powered by renewable energy. So we have a planet for the future.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Warwick in Queensland. My home town. Most of my family still live there, and I have friends and relatives to visit. It’s a lovely quiet regional city on the beautiful Darling Downs.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I like the NGV on St Kilda Rd. My friend Luciana is a guide there and the exhibitions are excellent. A great place to meet, see an exhibition, have a bite and then wander into the city laneways. Melbourne inner city is just fascinating for visitors and locals alike.

What are you currently reading?’
Million Dollar Mermaid – the autobiography of Esther Williams. It puts me in the zone for doing Bugle Boys. She used to work in a department store where the Andrews Sisters shopped. Apparently they tore the place apart during sales. They loved a bargain.

What are you currently listening to?
Lots and lots of Andrews Sisters songs. Not surprising since we’re doing 14 of their songs in our show. I grew up listening to my mother’s records of them, so they are quite familiar.

Happiness is?
Taking my three (adorable) dogs out for a walk each day. We never miss a day. I get to just relax my mind and they have a marvellous time. I find watching them very entertaining and therapeutic.

What does the future hold for you?
A lot more performances of Bugle Boys I hope. It’s such a fun show to do and I think everyone should see it. The world could certainly do with more entertainment and laughs!

Jon Jackson is a multi-skilled performer with exceptional and diverse talents as an opera singer, cabaret artist and comic raconteur. As an actor he has an uncanny ability to mimic specific accents, and a multitude of voice types. As an operatic counter-tenor and concert artist he exhibits equal versatility.

Born in the country town of Warwick Queensland, Jon studied voice and piano with Colleen Bloomfield (a one-time pupil of Dame Nellie Melba) and went on to graduate from The Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education with a degree in theatre production and stage management. Moving to Melbourne to work backstage at the Melbourne Theatre Company and later at the legendary Last Laugh, Jon began performing regularly at Jazz after Dark at the Victorian Arts Centre (now Arts Centre Melbourne).

In 1984 Jon teamed with accompanist Allan Walker to form The Great Big Opera Company, and for the next ten years he was lead singer and front man for the internationally acclaimed ensemble. Shows include: A Desert Chanson With Tangos, Absolutely Well, Basically Brecht and A Dangerous Hour, the company crossed every genre from sixties girl-group pop, to opera, country and rock n’ roll.

In the nineties the group toured extensively throughout Australia and across the world. From the Adelaide Fringe Festival to the Edinburgh Festival, The Great Big Opera Company enjoyed rave reviews and sell-out seasons with Stand Up At The Opera, Santa Babies, Taking It Up The Octave and A Great Big Soap Opera.

Performing regularly at the Arts Centre and numerous festivals across the country, the company also performed at the Singapore Festival, the Wellington and Auckland Festivals, concerts in Jakarta, hotel residencies in Bali, The Raffles Hotel in Singapore and, with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and The St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra in Russia.

Jon has played roles for Opera Australia and Chamber Made Opera, as well as writing a libretto for Melbourne’s Oz Opera. His solo work has seen him perform several one-man shows including Moonlighting, Don’t Ask Me Not To Sing, What The World Needs Now and Walk On The Wild Side.

In 2011 Jon performed as a soloist in a series of concerts with The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and took the part of Mr. President in The Magnormos production of Jerry Herman’s Dear World. More recently Jon has enjoyed two successful Melbourne seasons with his new cabaret shows, It’s My Party and Brinkering On The Teet.

Jon can be seen in Bugle Boys – A Salute To The Andrews Sisters with Michael Dalton and Andrew Dessmann at Chapel Off Chapel: 27 October – 1 November 2015. For more information, visit: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au for details.

Image: Jon Jackson