The sensational Australian concert drama Rolling Thunder Vietnam – Songs That Defined A Generation returns for an exclusive national tour in July – August 2016 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
Conscription, combat, protest and homecoming, Rolling Thunder Vietnam combines personal stories of young Vietnam War soldiers with classic songs of the era. This touching and uplifting theatrical concert draws audiences inside the lives of men on the battlefront and their families and loved ones at home.
The Vietnam War was the world’s first televised war. More than any other conflict it produced some of the most popular and enduring songs of the 20th century. The 2016 tour of Rolling Thunder Vietnam coincides with a number of planned events to honour the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan. The conflict took place on 18 August 1966 in a rubber plantation near Long Tan in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam. Eighteen Australians were killed and more than 20 wounded.
Featuring stunning projected images and historic news footage, Rolling Thunder Vietnam is a truthful work written by Bryce Hallett (Freeway – The Chet Baker Journey) and directed by David Berthold (Brisbane Festival Artistic Director). Based on first-hand interviews with Vietnam War veterans and actual letters, the stories reveal the danger of combat, the rise of the anti-war protest movement in the late ‘60s, comradeship and the toll of war on relationships and families.
The acclaimed production became one of the most talked about musical and theatrical events of 2014 when it toured nationally after premiering at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane. Under the musical direction of Chong Lim (John Farnham Band, Dancing With the Stars), the show earned standing ovations at every performance, winning plaudits from audiences and critics alike.
Rolling Thunder Vietnam features an outstanding cast, including Australian Idol winner Wes Carr will perform alongside Ben Mingay who is soon to star in Mel Gibson’s film Hacksaw Ridge and as Alan Bond in Channel 9 mini-series The House of Bond. Tom Oliver returns as the Australian digger and joining the cast are rising stars William Ewing, Kirby Lunn and Caitlin Spears.
The soul-stirring production includes many of the greatest rock songs ever written and produced, including classics by Steppenwolf, Joe Cocker, Buffalo Springfield, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Gladys Knight, Billy Thorpe, The Rolling Stones and Paul Simon, and featuring ‘songs that defined a generation’ including Fortunate Son, All Along the Watchtower, The Letter, What’s Going On, Born to be Wild, Killing Me Softly with His Song, We’ve Gotta Get out of This Place and Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Ahead of the exclusive 2016 season of Rolling Thunder Vietnam, producer Rebecca Blake said that it was only a matter of time before the show was back in front of audiences again. “The way Rolling Thunder connected to people when it first toured Australia was very special. Everyone loved hearing those great songs and they were genuinely moved by the storytelling,” said Blake.
“The positive responses from Vietnam Veterans and their families were overwhelming. It was as though they’d been waiting for years to experience their story on stage in such a vibrant and powerful way. It’s a tremendous thrill to be bringing the show back, especially in the 50th anniversary year of the Battle of Long Tan in which precious young lives were lost.”
The season includes performances in Melbourne (23 July), Sydney (29 – 30 July), Wollongong (2 August), Gold Coast (5 – 6 August), Canberra (10 – 11 August), Newcastle (13 August) and Perth (17 – 20 August). For more information, visit: www.rollingthundervietnam.com for details.
Image: Tom Oliver stars in Rolling Thunder Vietnam – photo by Dylan Evans