Welcome to another wonderful blog in the growing community of KingsCrossBlogs. These linked blogs reveal the the heart and soul of this vibrant bohemian district. You are invited to enjoy the many stories of our world and to leave your comments, or e-mail us the story of your Kings Cross experience. Down the track we plan to publish a selection of these in a blog of their own. Meanwhile, happy reading, and all the best from the exciting Kings Cross community.
Blog-O-licious Kings Cross (Home Page) Your base camp for blogging info, rules, definitions, invitations to blog and more. Here you learn all about KingsCrossBlogs and how you can be part of it too.
Rosie: Pure Inspiration A new musical by Stannard & Hatherley based on the life of a real life flower seller who sang arias to her customers while she dreamed of being a star.
Jest A Joke Jokes and humor collected on the streets of Kings Cross and looking for a laugh or two.
The Passionate Librarian This very special local can't help but be passionate about the piano, the marathon, and the special books she discovers lost in the 'stacks', that special book heaven where book treasures await discovery...
Archibald Prize Challenge Official Website for the Legal Challenge (still ongoing) to the 2004 Archibald Prize award. For all the issues, the latest news, background info, and questions answered click here.
Landscape Classes In Sydney Saturday is Landscape day at East Sydney Academy of Art, this is the journal from this enthusiastic group of artists.
CREATIVE PAINTING and ART CLASSES The process of painting from the idea to the finished composition. Art Classes for beginners to learn the basics and advanced artist's to learn the methods of the Old Masters and apply that knowledge to conteporary art.
Hens Nights The Blog We all know Kings Cross is the best place to party, but you may be surprised at how these brides celebrate their special party.
The Kings Cross Art Wall One small wall at the Neighbourhood Service Center can display just a few artworks by individual Kings Cross artist's. They all go on this site however where the tapestry of Kings Cross artists weaves together into an online exhibition for the world to enjoy.
Gatherr A fluid stream of cultural consciousness. The online multimedia scrapbook of Kings Cross artist Tony Johansen.
KINGS CROSS WEBSITES
GoFigure.net.au Website of an artwork by local artist, Tony Johansen, the first cross-media Archibald Prize entry.
TonyJohansen.com Paintings, sculpture, poetry, and photography, of a Kings Cross artist.
RosieTheMusical.com.au Official website for the new musical by Stannard & Hatherley, based on the life of Kings Cross identity Rose Shaw.
SydneyHensNight.com A special idea for a quality bride's hens night: a real figure drawing class in a local art school.
TapGallery.org.au Tap Gallery, and its heroine, Lesley Dimmick has hosted exhibitions, performance and theatre for thousands of emerging artists over the last 16 years.
RealRefuses.com Called the 'Democratic Archibald' the exhibition hosts rejected work from the Archibald Prize. This is the official website.
KingsCrossOnLine.com.au The official Kings Cross Partnership web-site. The indispensible resource for Restaurants and bars, business, services, and entertainment in the Kings Cross area, for visitors and locals alike.
READ BLOG POSTINGS:
They are located on the Main Page, or in Archives. A list of recent posts is located in the sidebar.
LEAVE A COMMENT:
Click the 'comment' link at the bottom of the post, or click on the item in the 'Recent Posts' list. You may leave a non de plume in the name field if you prefer, and while required, your e-mail address will not be published. If you enter a website, your name on the comment will link to that site. Any abuse of the comments feature will result in deletion of that comment.
FIND OTHER KINGS CROSS BLOGS:
They are listed in the sidebar. Just click the link.
ABOUT KINGS CROSS BLOGS:
Click the link to 'Blog-O-licious Kings Cross' which is the KingsCrossBlogs Home Page.
Definitions and how to write your own blogs for free are found at our Home Page, 'Blog-O-licious Kings Cross'. Click the link in the 'Kings Cross Blogs' list.
ABOUT KINGS CROSS:
Basic background info is found by clicking the 'About' link on the sidebar of any blog page. More will be found in individual blogs. Look in the 'Kings Cross Blogs' list in the sidebar.
E-MAIL US AND MESSAGES FOR BLOG AUTHORS:
The 'E-mail Me' link sends messages to KingsCrossBlogs only. To send any messages to individual blog authors please use the 'comments' link at the bottom of every post.
Click on the image to enlarge. (not all images have this feature)
FIND KINGS CROSS WEBSITES:
Look for the 'Kings Cross Websites' list in the sidebar for websites with a Kings Cross connection. Click the link to go to that site.
It was over 5 years ago now that I had the pleasure of being introduced to Peter Stannard and Gay Daniel. It was our first Kings Cross Arts Festival, and Peter played piano for the first public performance of music from 'Rosie' a new musical in the tradition of Broadway. Indeed in Peters own tradition, being the composer of the popular and record holding hit musical 'Lola Montez'.
At that time 'Rosie' was more of a dream than anything else, but years of perseverance against all obstacles (including the composing of a wonderful concertino, the 'Enthion', which it was my honour to help bring to fruition) has lead to this moment where the curtain is about to rise on the stunning cast of 'Rosie'.
The picture depicts the creative team of producer Gay Laurance-Daniel, writer Frank Hatherley, composer Peter Stannard, and Musical Director Lindsay Partridge. I congratulate all connected with this wonderful new project and wish them every success.
Frank was recently interviewed about ROSIE by David Spicer for a theatre magazine.
Q. What is it about the story of Rosie that inspired you to write a musical about her?
A. The original inspiration to write a musical about Rose Shaw was
producer Gay Daniel's. It was a very good idea. Here was a real Sydney
character who for 40 years sang opera and operetta in Martin Place
while she sold flowers from her stall. Thousands of ordinary people
knew her during the day and a very different lot of rather
extraordinary people knew her in her private life. Rosie's Kings Cross
flat was famous for its goings-on, its ever-changing cast of bohemian
characters. So when Gay asked me to read through her collected research
I was intrigued. And when she told me that Peter Stannard was writing
the songs I was convinced.
Q. Was Rosie well known in her time?
A. Definitely - as a key member of the Sydney florists brigade, as
an eccentric saleswoman in the centre of town for all those years, and
as an inspiration to two or three generations of Kings Cross drop-outs,
gays and nonconformists.
Q. Did you ever meet her?
A. My first job out of high school was as a junior-junior
advertising copywriter for a long-gone city department store called
Ashleys-Buckingham. Our office was on the first floor of the Strand
Arcade and most nights I walked down to the Quay to catch the Mosman
ferry home. I clearly remember Rosie singing Vilia from 'The Merry
Widow' as she sold her flowers to the passing trade. She had brightly
coloured red hair. To my 18 year old eyes she looked far too outgoing
and unpredictable, well worth avoiding.
Q. How much of the musical is fact and how much is fiction?
A. Well, I read everything that Gay had collected about Rosie,
press cuttings and newspaper mentions of her death in 1971. One of her
young fans (she had many) was Philip Napier who self-published a
glowing memoir of Rosie in 1994. It contained some excellent
photographs and some interesting basic facts about, for instance, her
upbringing in the East End of London. But there wasn't enough narrative
or character detail to sustain a full-length drama. I soon realised
that there was no way I could bring the real Rose Shaw back to life. I
had to invent my own Rosie, in a story with a theme that interested me,
with an unexpected narrative and a satisfying high-energy resolution.
Q. Is the music in the style that she would have liked performing?
A. Probably not. She seemed to have been a bit of a musical snob,
much more interested in opera and ballet, in High Culture. It's a great
clash, really - there she is, a street person, 40 years on her feet in
Martin Place dressed in gumboots and layers of clothes, and at night
she would dress in her satins, jewellery and furs, hire a Rolls Royce
and sit in her favourite seat at the ballet. The time span of the
musical stretches from the 20s in London to the 70s in Sydney, and
Peter Stannard made the correct decision in my view not to change the
style of music as we move through the decades. It's pure melodic
Stannard all the way. (Except we do have a terrific Jitterbug in the
Q. What will the audience take away from the show - in respect to their impression of Rosie?
A. At this unrehearsed, early stage I can only tell you what I hope
they'll take away. Our Rosie is a warm, tough, caring, non-judgemental
person, who inspires love and affection in Martin Place and Kings
Cross. But she has some difficulties in assessing her own talents and
the effect she has on those who love her. Our Rosie has inappropriate
aspirations - she follows dreams that can never be realised. But she
has a hell of a life, an inspiring life - a real Sydney life.
Q. Geraldine Turner as Rosie - how excited are you to have her as your leading lady?
A. How lucky are we! Of course, everything hung on the casting of
Rosie, who is actually never off the stage. She's either telling us
about her life or re-living it for us. Actually, I tell a lie, she does
leave the stage once in the First Act - to do the world's fastest quick
change! Geraldine hardly hesitated, or so it seemed to me. I sent her
the script, she could see the songs were by Stannard, and she said
Let's go! I could hardly believe it. To hear her read the lines, start
to find the character, is a great joy. I have no doubt that she will be
wonderful. She will make you laugh and make you cry and fill your soul
with happiness. What more could you want from a musical?
Q. How are the Elizabethan Theatre Trust helping and what is their connection to you or Peter?
A. Peter's musical Lola Montez was the Trust's first musical
production. This was in 1959. I clearly remember the big hit song
'Saturday Girl'. The show was very big, an important landmark in
Australian theatre history, and is still being revived regularly by
amateur companies. And in the 90s the Trust awarded Peter a scholarship
to study musicals in New York. So when the revitalised Trust decided to
celebrate their 50th Anniversary in 2005, they agreed to mark their new
ownership of the beautiful Independent Theatre, North Sydney, by
hosting Peter's new musical - Rosie.
Sydney has long been famous for its eccentrics - like serial taxi-jumper Bea Miles and wandering ‘Eternity Man’ Arthur Stace. And then there was Rose Shaw, Sydney's singing flower girl, pictured at left offering a bouquet of song and blooms for the passing trade.
Rosie sold flowers from her stall in Martin Place for nearly 40 years. With her voluminous layers of street clothes, her gumboots and her luridly red hair, she sang aria's as she sold her flowers. Her inner-city customers loved her for her operatic trills, her brash and unstoppable good humour.
She died in 1971, though many Sydneysiders still vividly remember her.
She came to Australia in 1927 after a childhood in the East End of London. Her father was a displaced Russian Jew; her mother a cockney. Rosie had dreams of singing opera and dancing ballet at Covent Garden. A Sydney florist was hardly what she planned to be.
A street trader by day, Rosie led quite a different sort of life at night. She attended all the best first nights dressed up to the nines, and her Kings Cross flat in the 40s, 50s and 60s was a notorious magnet for bohemians, gays and assorted Sydney drop-outs. She often described herself as ‘Mother of All the Queens'.
Geraldine Turner, one of Australia’s best known and best loved performers is performing the title role in the new musical “Rosie”, opening on Saturday 6th August at the Independent Theatre, North Sydney.
It was a considerable coup for Flairessence Productions to sign up such a star for their premiere of this new musical, written by Sydney composer Peter Stannard and Sydney playwright Frank Hatherley.
“I feel a sense of history about this musical because Peter Stannard wrote it – he wrote Lola Montez, one of the great Australian musicals” Geraldine said during a break in rehearsals today. “It’s an honour to be appearing in his show”. Rosie tells the story of Rose Shaw, the vividly eccentric character who sold flowers from her stall in Martin Place for 40 years. Rosie also had a bohemian Kings Cross lifestyle. “It’s really important for us to tell our stories” said Geraldine. “This is a wonderful story, a wonderful script, fantastic music and the best cast I’ve worked with in years”.
Says Hatherley: “Rosie was a huge personality of her time, a real icon of inner Sydney. We needed a mature performer who could sing dance and act – but also be a stand-up comedian, because Rosie is never off stage, telling her life story”.
The team were delighted when Geraldine agreed to read the script and hear the songs. They say they were ‘gobsmacked’ when she swiftly agreed to lead the acting company of ten.
“Once Geraldine agreed, we were then able to ask some of the best people around to join us” says Hatherley. The cast soon included Angela Toohey, Rodney Dobson, Jillian O’Dowd, and other high-class performers.
Geraldine has previously wowed theatre-going audiences in musicals (“The Witches of Eastwick”, “Oliver”, “Chicago”, “A Little Night Music”, “Sweeney Todd”) operas and operettas (“La Belle Helene”, “HMAS Pinafore”), plays and films. Her many concert and cabaret performances have taken her across Australia, Britain, USA, Germany, even Africa.
In 1995 Gay Daniel had an idea, a great idea, for a new Australian musical. She remembered Rose Shaw, the opera-singing flower seller who ran a stall in Martin Place for nearly 40 years. Thats Gay in the center of the photo, with composer Peter Stannard (left) and writer, Frank Hatherley. From Gay's background in theatre and the Music Hall at Neutral Bay has grown the conviction that the time is right for a new musical full of the full of the sort of beautiful music that inspired Rose Shaw as she dreamed of the stage while selling flowers.
For the music and songs she turned to her old friend Peter Stannard. Peter had made a major contribution to Australian theatre history when he wrote the memorable score for “Lola Montez”, an Elizabethan Theatre Trust production in 1959. Songs from this gold rush story had made the hit parade, and the musical is often revived by community theatre companies.
Next, she rang Sydney playwright Frank Hatherley in London. Would he care to devise a treatment that would tell Rosie’s story around Peter’s first handful of songs? “Rosie” emerged.
Frank returned to Sydney and wonderful new songs were piling up on Peter’s piano. Years of polishing, rewriting and reconstructing followed - with readings, concerts, presentations and a full workshop at Taree with Hazel Phillips as Rosie.
Late in 2004 Gay Daniel saw a great opportunity to move “Rosie” a huge step forward. The Elizabethan Theatre Trust, who had purchased the beautiful old Independent Theatre in North Sydney, wanted to host Peter Stannard’s new musical. And so, on August 6th, ten years after she had the idea, Gay Daniel will be the proud producer of a brand new Sydney musical.
Rosie opened to a packed Theatre on Saturday 6th August. Geraldine Turner was magical as the older 'Rosie'. Her experience and presense on stage provided an anchor for the romp through the special life of Rosie, who dreamed of being a star, but lacked both the tenacity to make it big on the stage, and the inability to see that her life as it was was as much theatre as anything else, and as such, she was always a star to those around her.
Jillian O'Dowd as the younger Rosie was the surprise package, her voice clear and beautiful sent shivers up and down my spine at times. It should be mentioned here that Rosie is performed entirely without amplification, a pleasure in an age of weak voices with wireless mics. Jillian needed no artificial boost as her voice filled the auditorium with ease.
But it was Rodney Dobson as 'George' the reluctant artist who had the song of the show according to many, including myself. The song, 'Never Wait Until Tomorrow' is a beautiful piece of music that Dobson sings with sensitivity and emotion that powerfully engaged the audience. George, the reluctant anti hero is the sympathetic favourite among Rosie's retinue of lovable friends.
This cast is simply brilliant. The applause at the end and happy smiling faces afterward reward enough for for a fabulous performance. Congratulations all.
Hurry for the last few tickets for this season of Rosie. Show must end on Saturday 3rd September. All good things come to an end and Rosie is no exception. All the memories of a bygone era, and the wonderful character that was Rose Shaw on stage Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 6 only performances. Don't miss out on this special all Australian musical. Thank you Rosie, you have won our hearts.
Rosie is the story of a singing flower seller. But it is also the story of her relationship with Kings Cross artist's, from Norman Lindsay to George, the reluctant hero.
The theatre foyer appropriately has exhibitions of Rosie related artwork and in the audience was a real life Kings Cross artist, Tony Johansen aka TonyJohansen.com. The Left hand image is a small watercolour done by Tony in the darkness of the theatre of a scene at the beginning of the musical. "It wasn't easy seeing the colours and some of it was kind of guess work, but I could relate to the characters and felt inspired by the performances" he said.
The other image is a digital image made during the same performance, begun during the second act, and perfected later in the studio. Kings Cross artist's were always bohemians at the cutting edge of modern art. Here is the evidence that the spirit of Rose Shaw and her friends live on in the modern Kings Cross.