On the 24th of April 1971, Young Talent Time first hit our TV screens. It featured Johnny Young as host and made stars out of the talented kids who performed covers of hit songs each week. Young created the concept, and was such a ratings winner, it lasted for 18 years.
In 2012 Channel 10 tried to relaunch the popular concept with Rob Mills as host – it only lasted a season due to poor ratings. Like they say, never mess with the original. A packed house at the Festival Theatre for the 50th Anniversary Reunion Special is testament to that. It goes to show that Young Talent Time has lived in the hearts of Australians for decades.
The producers certainly set the mood for us Young Talent Time fans, whilst waiting for the show to start, a huge screen featured clips from the show taking us back in time to remind us just how popular the show really was.
Everybody was certainly getting excited and let’s say … emotional, because to us all – these Young Talent Time stars were who we all looked up to. They were like rock stars. We connected with them. We dreamed of being just like them.
The house lights dimmed and the excitement and anticipation started to build – we couldn’t wait to see Johnny Young again, and his warmth and engaging persona has not changed. He welcomed the young stars as we remember them onto the stage – Jane Scali, Beven Addinsall, Joey Dee, Nicole Cooper, Karen Knowles, Lorena Novoa, Steven Zammit, Philip Gould – and YTT alumni turned Music Director – Greg Mills. And what better song to open up with – Up Up And Away (in my beautiful balloon). Oh the memories started to flood back!
The show went on to highlight each member of the Young Talent Time team, who performed individual numbers throughout the night. It was evident as to why these young stars were part of the YTT team in the first place – they were all incredibly talented and still are. These kids as we remember them are now adults – and I was blown away by each of their individual solo performances. All were vocally on pointe.
It was obvious Beven Addinsall who was popular during his time on the show, was also a crowd favourite for the reunion. His first song on Young Talent Time was How Great Thou Art on the 13th of August 1983. They flashed back to feature him singing this as a youngster on the big screen with his mother in the audience.
How incredible to see the performance for the reunion turned into a duet singing with his younger self in harmony, and to see his mother again in the audience 38 years later! This by far, was a highlight for me, and judging by the standing ovation, for the audience as well.
Nicole Cooper and Lorena Novoa were also a crowd favourite performing an ABBA medley, as were Philip Gould and Jane Scali. Both worked together after YTT in Annie the Musical and it was such a joy to see them perform We’re A Couple of Swells, (made famous by Judy Garland and Fred Astaire), as a video of them performing the same song on the show as youngsters was playing on the big screen.
Karen Knowles captivated the audience with Edith Piaf’s Take Me In Your Heart Again, breaking into part of the song in French. Knowles recorded We Are Australian with The Seekers and a beautiful moment in the show to hear her sing this, whilst featuring the Australian landscape behind on the big screen.
Philip Gould was absolutely outstanding. Stat! He moved to England performing in musicals and Royal Command peformances for the Queen, Queen Mother, Prince Charles and a special concert for Princess Diana.
Gould has a voice that makes him a standout as a leading man for musicals. For a moment, I thought I was in the audience watching The Phantom of the Opera. I was mesmerised, and would love to see him as a leading man in more Australian productions. Gould is an incredible talent.
The Young Talent Time band led by Greg Mills was superb! A three part horn section and four piece band. Who would have known Johnny Young paid for an orchestration course at Melbourne University for Greg Mills.
Johnny Young took to the stage with Mills, to sing songs he’d written for others namely, Thank You for Lionel Rose (the first Indigenous double gold record of all time), The Real Thing for Russell Morris, and Smiley for Ronnie Burns. It was wonderful to hear Johnny Young sing again, and he still has the vocal chops! It was nice to see John Bowles (now living in Paris), featured on the big screen via video message.
I particularly enjoyed being transported back in time, as if we were part of the studio audience. Cameras rolled, lights up, and we all go the opportunity to say ‘here’s Johnny Young’. It was then I started to tear up and get emotional because Young Talent Time was such a part of my life growing up.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters was also a show stopper featuring all the Young Talent Time team. The time had come when we all had to say goodbye, and the audience were happy to sing along with Johnny and the team to All My Loving, hands in the air as if we were in the studio audience.
It was emotional, uplifting, nostalgic, and what a treat to be able to sing with Johnny Young and the Young Talent Time team. During the song, all the YTT stars over the years, flashed up on the big screen behind. The audience lapped this up, especially me … and of course the person sitting behind me who was screaming out to Johnny and the team throughout the night.
I’m up for an encore of this show anytime. I will go back again and again. It’s not only a show, it’s an experience, a trip down memory lane. This show is etched in the hearts of many forever. One that will never leave us. One we will always remember during a time when the world was a kinder place. And a nicer place. And you can take me back there anytime.
Young Talent Time 50th Anniversary Reunion Special
Festival Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Street, Adelaide
Performance: Saturday 19 June 2021 – 7.30pm
The 2021 Adelaide Cabaret Festival continues to Saturday 26 June. For more information, visit: www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au for details.
Image: Young Talent Time 50th Anniversary Reunion Special – photo by Claudio Raschella
Review: Betty Samis – courtesy of All About Entertainment – Adelaide Cabaret Festival Reviews