Book by Patrick Edgeworth
Script Consultant Graham Simpson
Music & Lyrics by Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, David Reilly, Malvina Reynolds, Paul Simon, Tom Springfield
Director Gary Young
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
Following much hype and anticipation, we were all expecting something special in the musical about Australia’s most successful music group. After all, this was the band that, with their 1969 LP, The Best of The Seekers, knocked The Beatles White Album off the number one spot and prevented The Rolling Stones’ Beggar’s Banquet from reaching the top position. The album spent a total of 125 weeks in the UK charts. In 1967, they attracted a record audience of 200,000 to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
So how was the opening night of Georgy Girl?
It was fantastic.
Phillip Lowe as Keith Potger, Mike Mc Leish (Bruce Woodley) and Glaston Toft as Athol Guy, physically bear little resemblance to the people they portray, but this production is more about performances and story than facial likenesses, and the main cast members are brilliant. In the pivotal role of Judith Durham, Pippa Grandison has an amazing, soaring singing voice that captures nothing of Durham’s unique vocal qualities. If you close your eyes, you won’t imagine Judith Durham singing. Did you really believe that another singer could emulate her? Even taking into consideration the lack of visual and vocal similarity, Grandison’s talent is still substantial and undeniable.
In support of the key players are Ian Stenlake as John Ashby, the group’s womanising tour manager and Adam Murphy as the endearing narrator, Ron Edgeworth, who provides the perfect link between the story lines and the characters.
The set design, costume designs and choreography are modernised interpretations of the 1960s and will probably appeal to more contemporary audiences.
Then there are those chart-topping songs. Georgy Girl, The Carnival Is Over, Morningtown Ride, I’ll Never Find Another You, A World of Our Own, Someday One Day and the anthem, I Am Australian evoke memories of The Seekers at the top of their game.
The rollercoaster ride that has been The Seekers’ career path has been almost solely determined by the decisions made by Judith Durham. To alternately go solo and return to the group several times must have had an effect on the other band members and you can’t help but wonder whether the group would have enjoyed even greater successes if Durham was less self-focused, right down to the demands for “soft pears”.
On opening night, there was a special moment when Athol Guy, Bruce Woodley, Keith Potger and Judith Durham joined the cast on stage for the many curtain calls and standing ovations.
Even if you weren’t around during The Seekers golden era, you will know the songs, be fascinated by the storyline and be amazed by the spectacle. If you like musical theatre, the 1960s era, Australian music history or just love great music, do yourself a favour and get along to the State Theatre. You’ll be thoroughly entertained by Georgy Girl, The Seekers Musical. I might just go back to see it again. Yes, it’s that good.