It has been an incredible few months. From the establishment of Skunkworks Productions Limited on 24th March 2019 to producing a hit show just a few months later. Performed at the Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne, the show ran for three nights only (4th to 6th July) to sold out audiences. With only a few weeks to rehearse, we relied on the great talents of Liane Keegan, Alistair Frearson and the Skunkworks band to bring it all together for a fabulous celebration of the amazing talent of Judy Garland. This initial success has encouraged us to pursue further development of the concept into a full show version of the story. Stay tuned for further news about this project.
No doubt the success of the show was due to the magnificent talent of Liane Keegan and the compelling story telling of writer Bill Farr. The show depicts the great talent of Garland but also the effects of fame and substance abuse on her life, all through the microcosm of her 12 day Australian tour. In the 50th year since Garlands death the show struck a chord and garnered much public and media attention with interviews on ABC TV, Channel 9, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Melbourne Press Club and numerous radio stations.
The show received a number of reviews from the theatre press. Here are a few of the critics comments:
"Judy – Australia- 1964 is a triumph for its leading lady Liane Keegan and new company Skunkworks Productions.". - Julie Houghton, Classic Melbourne
"Superb musical support is provided by a 7-piece band under the direction of assured Maestro Phillipa Edwards " - Julie Houghton, Classic Melbourne
"Keegan’s ability to inhabit the voice and persona of Garland is magical," - Julie Houghton, Classic Melbourne
"Judy Garland was triumphant in the hands of experienced performer Liane Keegan" - Nicola Bennett, Theatre Travels
" This truly is a theatrical ode to all that Judy was - glamorous, moving, and above all, a very human experience" - Nicola Bennett, Theatre Travels
The show had it's genesis in a chance conversation on a bus while on tour in Europe in 2018. Skunkworks Musical Director Phillipa Edwards in a conversation with Writer Bill Farr mentioned that our good friend Liane Keegan was looking for a project about Judy Garland. Bill said he had just the thing. Bill, who had had a fascination with Garland for many years, had researched Garland for an Age newspaper story and produced art work for an exhibition on Garland. He had already written a draft script for a show centred around Garlands tour to Australia in 1964, From there the rest is history. Skunkworks brought everyone together to set in motion a show that became an instant hit. A great performer such as Judy Garland deserves a unique show that showcases her biggest hits but also tells of her struggles with the pressures of stardom and substance abuse.
In 1964 in a move that would help shape his future career, promoter Harry M. Miller got Judy to Australia for a series of concerts in Sydney and Melbourne. One of the most eagerly awaited show-business events ever in Australia evolved, for it's star, into a roller-coaster ride of incredible highs and unbelievable lows. Stunning success in Sydney, humiliating failure in Melbourne. Over twelve short days we see Garland's life unravel as her legendary power to triumph over adversity finally fails her.
Written by Bill Farr and starring Liane Keegan as Judy Garland and Alistair Frearson as Harry M. Miller this production of JUDY . AUSTRALIA . 1964 runs for three nights only (4th, 5th, 6th July) at the Athenaeum Theatre.
Liane has had a stellar international opera career singing with many overseas opera companies including English National Opera, Opera North (UK) and Deutsche Opera Berlin. Since returning to Australia permanently in 2012, Liane has appeared many times with Opera Victoria, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Opera Australia. We are extremely excited to have her performing for us in this production of Judy Australia 1964.
Playing the role of Harry M. Miller is outstanding young actor Alistair Frearson..
Graduating in 2013 with a Bachelor of Dramatic Art from the VCA, Alistair has since gained many acting credits to his name appearing in theatre, film and television including The Secret River, House Husbands 3, The Love of Dog, Gabby's First Time as well as a writing credit for "For the Love of Dog"..
Skunkworks is extremely pleased to have such an outstanding young actor playing the role of Harry M. Miller in this production of Judy.
Bill has had 40 years of experience in the publishing industry as designer, illustrator and art director. After a stint in advertising, he worked for Penguin Books, Time Inc and Fairfax Media. As Art Director at The Age from 1994 to 2012, he oversaw several redesigns, won two Walkley Awards and three Melbourne Press Club Quill Awards. He was also an occasional contributor to The Age as a writer.
Phillipa is one of Australia's preeminent ensemble conductors. She studied trumpet at the Victorian College of the Arts and has enjoyed the teaching of brass luminaries Gordon Webb, Mark Summerbell and Rob Smithies. She has studied conducting with Professor David King and Steve Bastable (UK) as well as Dr Barry Bignell and Brett Kelly. She received the award of Conductor of the Year in 2007. Phillipa is a director of Skunkworks Productions Limited.