Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: "Georgy Girl: The Seekers Musical" @ Her Majesty's Theatre, Melbourne

by Paul Cashmere, Noise11

To understand the story of The Seekers climb to success you have to put the era into context.

In the 60s, people travelled to England by boat or had multi-stop flights taking days to reach the destination. Today it is quicker to get to the moon. There was no Internet. A short phone call from London to Melbourne cost a weeks salary and fans couldn’t just stream a new song. They would generally hear it on the radio, watch it on TV and then if they liked it, physically have to go to a store to buy it. There were no 24/7 stores then. You shopped from Monday to Friday between 9 AM to 5.30 PM or Saturday between 9 AM and midday.

As an artist then, your chance of any success (let alone global success) was next to nil. The Seekers were the first Australian band to break that barrier. In a figurative sense, they truly walked on the moon. And THAT is why they deserve to have their story heard.

The Seekers were pioneers. Georgy Girl: The Seekers Musical tells the unlikely story of four people from Melbourne who rose to global success when the Bee Gees were still living in Australia. They pre-dated Simon & Garfunkel. As the show mentions of a few occasions, Bruce Woodley was writing with an unknown Paul Simon before Simon & Garfunkel had their first hit. Their song Red Rubber Ball, a 1966 hit for The Cyrkle, is placed in the show for that reason.

Georgy Girl: The Seekers Musical is essentially told through the eyes of singer Judith Durham, who in her teens was a wannabe jazz singer and a secretary in an advertising agency. The Seekers left for London after being offered work as performers on a cruise ship. What was meant to be 10 weeks away, became four years.

Now considering the pre-technology era portrayed, a teenage girl away from her family on the other side of the planet, a music industry that was as fair to artists then as it is today (The Seekers sold millions of records but their royalty rate was 2.5% divided by four) and what we have is a music story where everything changes but nothing changes.

Georgy Girl: The Seekers Musical tells of some incredible highs for this Melbourne quartet including the Academy Award nomination for their song Georgy Girl, their number one hits in the UK for I’ll Never Find Another You and The Carnival Is Over, their US top 10 breakthrough with I’ll Never Find Another You, A World Of Our Own and Georgy Girl and their incredible homecoming performance in Melbourne where over 200,000 fans turned up to see them at Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl in March 1967. At the time that was around 10% of the entire population of Melbourne. It set a record listed in the Guinness Book of Records that is still to be broken.

‘Georgy Girl The Seekers Musical’ is based on a book by Patrick Edgeworth, Judith’s brother-in-law. The script was overseen by Graham Simpson who was the author of Judith’s biography Colours Of My Life. While the musical uses poetic licence to condense the 50 year story into two hours, the story of the journey, the legacy of the music and the trophy of success is the message to take away from this show.

With Georgy Girl: The Seekers Musical, producers Richard East (Mamma Mia) and Dennis Smith (Dusty, The Go! Show) tell a story of an iconic Australian group that opened international doors for Australian music for others like The Bee Gees, Olivia Newton-John and later Little River Band, Men At Work and INXS to follow.

Pippa Grandison as Judith Durham, Phillip Lowe as Keith Potger, Mike McLeish as Bruce Woodley and Glaston Toft as Athol Guy as believable and authentic as The Seekers every night.

The Seekers deserve their place in Australian Music History and every Australian should hear this story.

Georgy Girl The Seekers Musical’ is on now at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne and heads to Sydney in April.