The Man They Call The Banjo by Felix Meagher and Dennis O'Keeffe
Premiere Season and upcoming shows of the full production:
Kilsyth 04 December 2016
Port Fairy Festival 08 January 2017 (3:00 pm and 7:30 pm)
Trentham 28 January 2017
Banjo Paterson; the long held fiancé of Sara Riley, together with Sarah’s best friend Christina McPherson, created Australia’s well loved and worldly recognised song, Waltzing Matilda. ‘The Man They Call The Banjo’ explores these very relationship associations and Suzie Thomas, the great niece of Sarah Riley has been invited as a guest speaker to share some little known Riley history with the audiences prior to each show. Suzie will travel from her home in Northern NSW to speak during the SW Victorian tour and is eager to experience the show first hand.
Originally, the Riley’s were wool-staplers for generations abroad and the young James Riley (Sarah’s father) explored, settled and pioneered in Australia while naturally maximising opportunities in the wool industry. Life in Australia had began for the Riley’s, one of Australia’s seminal families.
For media enquires contact Felix on 0413-801294 or email [email protected]
A new musical which tells the story the secret love affair between Banjo Paterson and Christina Macpherson as they wrote
Waltzing Matilda, based on Warrnambool resident, Dennis O’Keeffe’s ground breaking research, published in a book
by Allen and Unwin, Waltzing Matilda -– The Secret Story of Australia’s Favourite Song.
see the ABC Landline program at http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2013/s3827983.htm
see a you tube demo of the show at
By Felix Meagher and Dennis O’Keeffe; Directed by Wolf Heidecker
Chris Saxton as Banjo Paterson, Fleur Murphy as Christina Macpherson, Colin Driscoll as The Swagman, Cora Browne as Sarah Riley, and Felix Meagher as the Squatter, Musicians –Ewen Baker & Lou Hesterman
The Man They Call The Banjo has been previously read in concert in woolsheds across SE Australia, and at the Port Fairy Folk Festival where it has received rave reviews and standing ovations.
Jamie McKew, Director of the Port Fairy Festival said, “Great show! Great reception! Songs very strong… Sparring ladies were sensational!”
Phillip Moore, Chairman, Cultural Committee, Celtic Club, “Amazing show! Historic night!”
Robyn Carnegie, Corporate Cordinator, Benalla “The show at the Celtic Club was brilliant. Great night all round!”
Eve Black, who attended the 2013 show in Cole’s Woolshed, “Don’t change a thing!”
Melbourne based producer/director, Wolf Heidecker, said, “The story is one of Australia’s great love stories, and it is set in a time and a place when Australia was as close as it has ever been to civil war. As such it encompasses the raw emotion, the drama and the historical significance to make it a tale and a musical of interest to all ages and all walks of life.”
Melbourne actor and musician Tom Carty captures the dilemmas of Banjo Paterson as the famous and ‘Hamlet like” writer is surrounded by beautiful and powerful women, and warring factions of a civil war.
Kirsty Gayther, plays the role of Christina Macpherson. Recently she played the title role in Xavier Brouwer's satirical musical 'Grey's Lobotomy'.
Colin Driscoll, renown bush poet, plays the role of the Swagman who appears as a ghost to the imagination and conscience of Banjo Paterson
Cora Browne, plays the role of the scorned woman. Sarah Riley. She let’s the world know of Banjo’s betrayal and makes him pay for his wrong-doings every step of the way.
Playwright and composer, Felix Meagher, steps in as The Squatter, Robert Macpherson, and through his dark suspicions of Banjo Paterson’s motives, reveals the possibility of an answer as to who murdered the swagman.
THE MAN THEY CALL THE BANJO by Felix Megher and Dennis O'Keeffe
Premiere Season at Mt. Rothwell Estate 17 April 2015
Roy Hay: Pure delight last night. Thanks to you and all involved.
Review on our website at www.sesasport.com
Unofficial anthem gets another outing
Waltzing Matilda is still Australia’s unofficial national anthem in many people’s minds. The late Dennis O’Keeffe thought that at heart it was a love song and researched the background to its creation by A B ‘Banjo’ Paterson and Christina Macpherson. Now Felix Meagher and company has turned the story into a musical for a new generation. A mixture of song and history set in the Queensland outback it had its world premiere at Mount Rothwell in the You Yangs on Friday night as ‘The Man they called the Banjo’.
Crafting a dramatic story out of the sketchy evidence is a difficult task but the production almost makes a virtue out of it as the various phases of the creation the song are uncovered. The signature song emerges in stages as the relationships between Patterson and the two women with whom he was involved are played out against the background of the conflict between the squatters and shearers.
All the performers have strong voices and personalities and Cora Browne as the jilted Sarah Riley had the biggest impact on the audience with her tantrums as she realised her ‘catch’ was slipping away. Fleur Murphy carries off the difficult balance between muse and respectability as the inspiration for the townie writer of the lyrics and a contributor in her own right. Colin Driscoll’s Swagman makes a strong plea for a factual history of the rural conflict but in the end settles for immortality in song, while Meagher has just enough menace as the squatter brother of Christina and the possibility that he was the man who shot the swaggie.
Chris Saxton as Patterson has to present a young man struggling for recognition and escape from the drudgery of his urban employment not the literary icon of popular memory. He brings it off effectively. Direction by Wolf Heidecker is crisp and focused though there are things which no doubt will be tightened in future performances. Music by Ewen Baker and Lou Hesterman warmed up the audience and kept the show lively. Audience participation, particularly in a chorus of the song hit just the right note.
Purists might wish that there had been an opportunity to hear the whole of Dennis O’Keeffe’s moving rendition of the original Patterson/Macpherson version of Waltzing Matilda. You can find that on Youtube.]