Kelly The Musical
The following extracts are from the David
Spicer Productions web
life and times of Australia's most infamous Bushranger
and his Gang set to a rollicking score, a mixture of
rock, broadway and vaudeville. “Gonna
Rob a Bank, Gonna Be A Rich Man One Day, Gonna Rob
A Bank. Living it the Easy Way” This has
both great humour and great tragedy. Staged in 1978
in Sydney and Adelaide with words and lyrics by Reg
Livermore and music by Patrick Flynn it has now been
updated with new music and lyrics for the 21st Century.
The opening chorus is at Spencer Street station on
June 27 1880 with Police and Aboriginal trackers
leaving to track down the Kelly Gang. " In the
Bush. Give a Push. If we have to we will do it. Spill
their Blood in the mud." Police arrive at the
Kelly farm at Eleven Mile Creek there is a scuffle
a Police Officer is wounded so the Kellys head bush
singing the song Gang Bang. "Altogether bang
bang, Ricochet clang rang. Let em all Hang Shining
in your eye."
At Stringybark Creek Police find the Kelly Gang in
a shoot out Three Police Officers are shot dead. Police
sing " those Irish bandits drowning in the same
Irish stew Outlawed from today." The Gang realise " we're
never going home again". On February 10 1879 they
rob several Banks at Euroa and Jerilderie burning land
deeds for poor farmers. " Gonna Rob a Bank. Gonna
Be a Rich Man Some Day".
On June 27 1880 the Gang take over the town of Glenrowan
and are holding 60 people in the hotel. Police are
tipped off. They sing about 'The Blood of the Irish'
, Ned's mother has the poignant song 'Die Like a Kelly'.
And then there is the final confrontation when Ned's
amour fails to protect him from the bullets of the
Victorian Police. " I shall not be home again.
Well that's life I say."
A word from Reg
When Ned Kelly was staged in 1978 Reg Livermore was
the superstar of Australian music theatre. He was
riding the waves of success from his role as the
original Dr Frankenfurter in The Rocky Horror Show,
King Herod in JC Superstar, and his own unique one
man show's Betty Blockbuster and The Sacred Cow.
Ned Kelly was hailed as having the potential to be
the Great Australian musical. "It was great fun.
A real cowboys and Indians show. It's very entertaining...
particularly when the Kelly Gang rob the Bank of New
South Wales and later the Police hold a benefit because
it is becoming such expensive business chasing outlaws.
They ask punters for tuppence to have a look at the
bodies Ned and his Gang made dead, but they are disappointed
that 'the people on the whole ain't very friendly,' " says
Reg now continues to write and star in his own one
man shows and also for the last seven years has been
a celebrity reporter on the Nine Network's Our House
program. He says the story of Ned Kelly has universal
appeal. "I firmly believe what Ned Kelly said
that men are made mad by bad treatment . He was a victim
of his time - a man chosen by the authority figures
to bear theblame for all of us. Ned walking out in
his armour is perhaps the truly most appalling moment
. The felling of Ned is an action of willful cruelty
- it is inhumanity par excellence," he said. But
didn't the Kelly Gang murder three Policemen? "They
were being hunted down. It was the Police or them." he
The music for Ned Kelly was written by Patrick Flynn.
He is now a distinguished conductor for Opera and Ballet
orchestras across the United States and the UK. The
music is a combination of 70's rock, vaudeville and
operetta. Patrick has written three new songs for the
new version. "The production in 1978 was just
an off Broadway trial for this definitive version," he
said cheekily. " Many of the songs are absolute
rippers. But I have had to write a few new ones" said
Patrick. Reg has also re-written some of the songs
and given it a more traditional musical opening. He
says this musical will be particularly popular in Victoria
where is has never been staged. "I always said
it should have opened in Melbourne," he said.
It has taken Reg more than two decades to have another
go at this musical because of the pain caused by the
reception critics gave the show in 1978. "It was
big. With an enormous set. It was in your Face. Some
People Loved it. Other's didn't." One of the critics
who didn't like it was Adelaide writer Shirley Stot
Despoya. Obviously her 7 year old daughter Natasha
was taking life too seriously and trying already to
become the world's youngest Senator.
But Reg says there was some great reviews as well. " The
Spectator loved it," he said. Insiders says that
the public was disappointed that Reg was not actually
on stage. That the style of the production was too
Glitzy. It also opened during the wrong time in Adelaide
and local critics were put off by the fact that public
money went into a commercial musical instead of the
State Opera. Stephen Thomas played Dan Kelly. Now he
is a school teacher in Sydney and he revived the show
in the early 90's for his High School and the Canterbury
We used a new orchestration by Steve Wood, which really
developed the score. It's still a rock musical but
there are some elements including a hint of music from
the era. It was wildly successful. This is a fantastic
musical," he said. For the last two years I have
been trying to convince Reg to release the rights and
am delighted that he has dived into the project with
great enthusiasm. Community Theatres are extremely
reluctant to do Australian musicals.
I believe this has absolutely everything going for
it. It's about our most famous Bushranger with great
music by one of our most famous entertainers. The musical
was written originally to be in one act. It lasted
two hours. Reg says that while in the 70's you could
punish the public in the Zeros people want coffee at
interval so he is adapting it to make it a more traditional
piece. "Throughout the show there are flash backs
to the train filled with Police leaving for Glenrowen
for the final confrontation. It was hard to find a
place to break the suspense but I've found a place
and now the second act opens with great comedy." he
said. The new version includes more opportunities for
female solos and chorus.