Music and Lyrics by Judith Durham, Athol Guy, Keith Potger, Bruce Woodley, David Reilly, Malvina Reynolds, Paul Simon, Tom Springfield and others.
Directed by Gary Young
Georgy Girl Productions
49 Market Street, Sydney
Season: 1 April – 27 May
An ordinary group of kids from Melbourne enjoy getting together and playing good old folk music. Judith Durham can sing opera and jazz and by chance, stumbles into auditioning for this folk group – The Seekers. What begins as a six-month gig on a cruise ship culminates in international stardom. It’s a story that seems so distant to our current grasp of ‘celebrity’ where anyone famous has to have a particular X factor to really make it big. But throughout this journey Judith and the group remain grounded, somewhat misfits in their glimmering surroundings. The classic Seekers hits are performed as their tale of ascent to fame is told, interspersed with uplifting polychromatic chorus numbers. A gorgeous blast from the past, Georgy Girl hits all the sweet spots.
My opinion likely doesn’t reflect that of the average millennial who probably doesn’t have a soft spot for the era. Nor does my opinion reflect the more ‘mature’ demographic that grew up boogying to The Seekers’ music. I have a formidable love of the sixties music, colour and style. Perhaps it’s an unusual taste for a young person of my generation, but I relish the dreamlike nostalgia that emanates from the era. To me, it feels like a brighter and more beautiful time. Prior to seeing the musical, I only knew one song by The Seekers, and so didn’t really have any personal connection to the story being told. And I had a fantastic time.
Vocally, each of the Seekers performers do a stunning job and bring warm acting performances to the stage, in spite of the bounds of simplistic character traits. Pippa Grandison as Judith stands out, truly selling the essence of the girl-next-door in the midst of rippling stardom. Adam Murphy as Ron Edgeworth, the narrator, best creates humour in the show, breaking the fourth wall and winning laughs with jokes that could otherwise fall through as a little daggy. He pulls it off. The chorus take the stage with energised choreography by Michael Ralph, and portray innumerable quirky cameo roles. The cast is strong on all fronts, engaging the audience with their attention to detail. Costume design by Isaac Lummis is ravishing, with an abundance of costume changes that pop with colour and bold patterns. This production is brimming with life.
There are inevitable difficulties with condensing full lifetimes into a 2 hour musical. While at some points the characters’ journeys are sufficiently developed, as the musical nears its close crucial life events are lumped into the mix, creating a brittle disconnect with the rest of the musical. To his credit, the writer, Patrick Edgeworth, embraced the inability to be entirely accurate in the depiction of events through amusing asides by the narrator.
Ultimately, the power of music and dance prevails in this production. A delicious dive into the past, it’s lovely to spend an evening with the homely and hearty group of musicians who starkly contrast the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll lifestyle of other 60s bands like the Rolling Stones. A shimmy back through time to the beat of delightful Seekers music – what’s not to love? It’s a hoot.