This December Australian audiences will witness a new, mainstage musical telling our own homemade stories. It’s something to write home about because big, new Australian shows come around every blue moon and the ones telling an all-Australian story are more rare still.
Georgy Girl – the Seekers Musical follows the meteoric rise to fame of legendary music group, The Seekers. Led by Judith Durham, they were the first Australian act to achieve major chart success in the UK and US. Produced by Richard East (Mamma Mia!) and Dennis Smith (Dusty – The Original Pop Diva), Georgy Girl opens in Melbourne this December before touring to Sydney in April next year.
Maryann Wright spoke to the cast of Georgy Girl – Pippa Grandison (Judith Durham), Phillip Lowe (Keith Potger), Mike McLeish (Bruce Woodley), and Glaston Toft (Athol Guy), ahead of the musical’s opening in Melbourne next month.
This is a new musical being created from scratch. What excites you most about that?
Pippa Grandison: “I’m excited to walk where you’re motivated to walk!”
Phillip Lowe (continuing on from Pippa’s point): “…Not where the guy on Broadway did. It’s great to not have to inherit someone else’s performance. More often than not the big Broadway shows have numbers at front of stage where the director will say ‘move to 2 and say line there and then move to 4’. That’s how shows are often brought to Australia. Theatrical battleship. With Georgy Girl, we can make it our own.”
Mike McLeish: “Working with an all-Australian team is fantastic. There’s a fear of the unknown but it’s something to be celebrated, to be part of an organic process.”
Glaston Toft: “These producers are putting their money where their mouth is. A lot of Australian producers say they want to do new Australian work and then they import more overseas successes.”
You’re all playing real-life people still alive today. Where does the line get drawn about impersonation?
Mike: “Capturing the spirit of the person is important but impersonations are a dangerous road. There are certain things I want to get right such as how Bruce holds his guitar so that when we are in the formation of The Seekers people will be able to say ‘that looks very much like The Seekers’ but I haven’t been closely studying Bruce’s pattern of speech.
Pippa: “There are textures and qualities of Judith’s voice that I’ll try to get close to like her distinct vibrato. I’ll use my technique to get the sounds as close as I can. The weight of the responsibility of that isn’t lost on me. I’m going to try to keep the love of the music and the story alive.”
Glaston and Mike, you have been involved in Georgy Girl workshops for the past two years. What has that process been like?
Glaston: “Two years ago we did a script development and then last year did a two week with a band, full cast as a small presentation showing, which The Seekers were invited along to see.”
Mike: “Patrick Edgeworth, the writer, is very open to everyone’s suggestions about changes. He isn’t precious about his writing he just wants this show to be the best it can be.”
Why will audiences love this musical adaptation?
Glaston: “You get a sense of the drive of The Seekers both as a group and what individually made them a success. It’s an uplifting story.”
Pippa: “Audiences get to see what it was like to have such a meteoric and sudden rise to fame and join the crazy ride.”
Mike: “Georgy Girl will bring a new audience for their music. A whole new generation will fall in love with the songs.”
Georgy Girl – the Seekers Musical will have its world premiere at Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Theatre on Tuesday 22 December 2015, before playing at Sydney’s State Theatre from Saturday 2 April 2016. For more information, visit: www.georgygirlthemusical.com for details.
Image: Phillip Lowe, Mike McLeish, Keith Potger, Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Pippa Grandison and Glaston Toft at the recent Launch of Georgy Girl in Melbourne – photo by Jim Lee
Interview: Maryann Wright
Maryann Wright is a performer and writer. She has a Diploma of Musical Theatre from Brent Street and a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) from The University of Sydney. Recent performance credits include: EIGHT, Subject To Change, Heart of a Dog (Australian premiere), Carrie (Squabbalogic) and Urinetown (Brent Street). Journalism credits include: www.artshub.com.au, The Guardian, news.com.au and Girlfriend Magazine. www.maryannwright.com.au