Winging My Way to the Top
(From Left) Jill Walsh as Beryl Cheapside, Gaye Reid as Phyllis Jones, Lisa McClelland as Pearl Diamond, and Karen Strahan as Ruby Goldsmith. Photo: Jamila Toderas
Actor-director Gordon Nicholson said part of the appeal of the new musical Winging My Way to the Top was that ‘‘it’s just so Australian’’.
With settings like a backyard barbecue and songs like Ya Gotta Get Ya Pav Right, it certainly wouldn’t be mistaken for originating anywhere else. The show, which opens at the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre on Thursday, was produced and written by Canberrans Karen Strahan and Jill Walsh and is set in the national capital.
It’s the story of the Diamond Sisters, a one-hit-wonder country music trio, whose career abruptly ended after an on-stage incident while performing their song, My Chocolate Heart Has Melted, at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in 1986.
Gordon Nicholson as Charlie Cheapside. Performing in Winging My Way to the Top. Photo: Jamila Toderas
Three decades later, they lead very different lives and are still close but the incident is never mentioned. Beryl Cheapside (Walsh) is an empty-nester housewife married to Charlie (Nicholson), who runs a furniture store. Corporate climber Ruby Goldsmith (Strahan) is married to wealthy Godfrey (John Kelly) and they have one child and a domestic executive assistant, Vyven (Angela Lount). The youngest sister, Pearl Diamond (Lisa McClelland), has never given up on the childhood dream of performing, but has not had any success and drifts between jobs.
And then comes the possibility of the Diamond Sisters reuniting. Can they revive their old dream or will their new lives and old problems get in the way?
Walsh said she and Strahan had worked together on revues for many years having met while studying at the Canberra School of Music. They began work on Winging My Way to the Top, their first musical, four years ago.
She said, ‘‘The great thing about it for me is that it’s relatable. Everyone has a family of sorts and it’s all about their interaction.’’
Thwarted hopes, taboo topics, sibling rivalries - are all part of the mix, along with a dozen musical numbers and a lot of comedy.
Nicholson said it was exciting to be doing a new musical that was totally Australian and that even though it was starting small, with the right luck ‘‘it could be a world pleaser’’.
Winging My Way To The Top is on at the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre from May 8 to 17. Tickets $47/$40, all matinees $40. Bookings: theq.net.au