Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical

Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne
Wednesday 24 February 2016



Musicals are not really my thing, either on film or on stage. In general I’d rather sit through a curling tournament or an episode ofI’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, but I was taking my mum to the theatre to see the new production of Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical. She was a bit of a fan of The Seekers, as were most Australians in the late 1960s, and I figured that even I’d know most of the songs. Plus she hadn’t been to the theatre for many years. Besides, it could have been worse; she might have taken me up on my alternative offer to take her the Edinburgh Military Tattoo that had just wound up at Etihad Stadium. I’ll take Morningtown Rideover bagpipes any day.

So we were at Her Majesty’s for a mid-week matinee. Even at 50+ I was comfortably the youngest in the theatre by a good decade, aside from the cast. It’s fair to say that of all the legacies from the 60s, an appreciation of the Seekers’ music hasn’t traversed the generations in quite the same way as the enthusiasm for recreational drug taking. I also imagine that there has been minimal take-up of Ticketek’s specially priced $60 tickets for under 30s. On the upside however, politicians and demographers are constantly reminding us about Australia’s ageing population, which suggests this production might have a long run ahead of it.

The Seekers are just the latest in a long line of heritage musical acts to get the jukebox musical treatment – there’s been Queen, ABBA, Dusty Springfield, Buddy Holly, The Four Seasons, Johnny Cash and numerous others. Like Georgy Girl, they are all exercises in musical nostalgia. That’s not such a bad thing; I foresee the day in 20 years when I’m hobbling in to Her Majesty’s on my walker to see Nick The Stripper – the Nick Cave musical. Incongruously perhaps, Nick Cave is one of my links to The Seekers, thanks to his recording of, The Carnival is Over on his covers album, Kicking Against the Pricks.

Prior to Georgy Girl, the only stage musical I’d seen live is Shane Warne – the Musical, with Eddie Perfect playing the spin king. I also watched a live ABC broadcast of the musical, Keating! and noted that Mike McLeish, who portrayed Paul Keating in that production and was also in the Shane Warne musical, was on board here as Seeker, Bruce Woodley. It’s a small world indeed, but evidently an even smaller world in Melbourne musical theatre.

Other cast members in this production of Georgy Girl are Pippa Grandison as Judith Durham, Phillip Lowe as Keith Potger, Glaston Toft as Athol Guy and Adam Murphy as Ron Edgeworth. Durham’s husband and the show’s ham narrator. The show was written by Patrick Edgeworth – Ron’s brother – which probably explains why Ron got all the good lines. I always thought Athol Guy to be one of the great names in Oz rock, so I’m impressed that the producers found someone with an even better name – Glaston Toft – to play him in this production.

The production had all the elements you’d expect from a stage musical; a clunky script, over the top costumes, cultural clichés, awkward acting and cheesy, exaggerated gestures and choreography from the chorus members. Mum and I had good seats in the stalls, so we had wonderful proximity to enjoy the full melodramatic overstatement and overacting of the chorus members’ heightened performance. For all that, they did work hard.

On the other hand it also had some impressive singing from the four principal Seekers, who managed to capture the harmonies and ensemble singing that made the group famous in the first place. And that of course is the main point. In particular Pippa Grandison was at least Judith Durham’s equal as a vocalist.

All the main songs were aired: I’ll Never Find Another YouA World Of Our OwnMorningtown RideThe Carnival Is Over and of course, Georgy Girl, as well as numerous others. I didn’t realize bruce Potger had written I Am Australian – they did that too.

Covering a 50-year timespan in 2.5 hours was always going to result in something of a potted history, a point the narrator Ron Edgeworth conceded in one of his many asides. While it is understandable that the script focused primarily on the 1960s era, major latter day events such as Judith Durham’s car accident and husband Ron Edgeworth’s diagnosis with motor neurone disease were given a cursory treatment by comparison.

This production hasn’t changed my mind about musicals. Possibly the only musical I’d be interested in attending is Lazarus, the musical David Bowie penned based on The Man Who Fell To Earthfeaturing some of his songs, and which opened off Broadway just a week or two before his death.

Mum said she quite enjoyed it, although she said it was a bit loud at times. That’s the thing with musicals I suppose, the music. I made a mental note now that Lemmy is dead not to take her to the Motorhead musical should it eventuate.

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