Book By: Patrick Edgeworth: Music and Lyrics: Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, David Reilly, Malvina Reynolds, Paul Simon, Tom Springfield and others.
Director: Gary Young: Musical Director: Stephen Gray: Choreographer: Michael Ralph:
Set Designer: Shaun Gurton: Costume Design: Isaac Lummis
The State Theatre, Sydney until June 1st 2016.
Performance on 13th April reviewed by Bill Stephens.
The Seekers achievements are numerous and remarkable. Their music has become an integral part of the Australian soundscape. Australians have been reading about them and humming their tunes for more than 50 years. That being so, it’s rather surprising that it has taken so long for a musical about The Seekers rise and rise to fame to emerge.
|Phillip Lowe (Keith Potger) Pippa Grandison (Judith Dunham) |
Mike McLeish (Bruce Woodley) and Glaston Toft (Athol Guy)
“Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical” certainly goes a long way towards addressing this oversight, although, interestingly, it’s the music of the Seekers that is the focus of a show which could just have well been called “Judy Girl”, because it’s Judy Durham’s story that dominates, You’ll learn little about the three male members of the group.
Saddled with a book which is embarrassingly patronising at times, and which seems to suggest that The Seekers rise to fame was handed to them through a series of lucky breaks, director Gary Young does his best to breathe life into a production which looks a little over-whelmed in the cavernous State Theatre, and often feels as though it would have been more comfortable as a television documentary.
All the action takes place in bland, two-level, metal and perspex setting, designed by Shaun Gurton, which encloses the stage on three sides. Sliding doors allow furniture and props, including a baby grand piano, to be trundled on and off when required.
Images are flashed on to screens on the second level, to provide colour, movement and information, while Adam Murphy, as Durham’s husband, pianist Ron Edgeworth, provides a connecting narrative seated at the aforementioned baby grand.
If there was any drama involved in their story, it is only hinted at, or quickly glossed over. At one point, an uncomfortable proposal scene, later dismissed as fantasy, is introduced to provide the show with some depth
The Seekers stand and deliver their most famous songs, backed by a troupe of brightly costumed dancers who gyrate energetically through Michael Ralph’s cheesy go-go routines familiar from the television shows of the 50’s and 60’s. Sorry if you weren’t around then to experience them then, but here’s your chance to catch up.
Portraying The Seekers, Glaston Toft as Athol Guy, Mike McLeish as Bruce Woodley and Phillip Lowe as Keith Potger bear only a passing physical resemblance to their namesakes, but each offers a pleasant stage persona and together they absolutely nail their harmonies.
|Phillip Lowe, Mike McLeish, Pippa Grandison and Glaston Toft|
Pippa Grandison gives a star performance as Judith Durham, accurately capturing the essence of Durham’s singing style and delivery to create a memorable characterisation which lifts an otherwise unremarkable show into the “must see” category.
Sophie Carter as Durham’s sister, Beverley Sheen, gets a moment to shine in a duet “Keep a Dream in Your Pocket”, and Ian Stenlake does his best to spark some life into the role of Durham’s manager, John Ashby.
If you can ignore the underwritten book, an attractive cast, some winning performances and a seemingly endless procession of instantly recognisable songs make this show so disarmingly enjoyable that you’ll kick yourself if you miss it.
|Pippa Grandison as Judith Durham in "Georgy Girl - The Seekers Musical"|
This review also appears in Australian Arts Review. www.artsreview.com.au