From King Kong to Ned Kelly, Adam Lyon has a thing for epic world premiere musicals – but this time it’s his own composition.

Adam Lyon originated the role of Carl Denham in the world premiere of King Kong The Musical. Lyon clearly has a thing for world premiere musicals. Next week he will see the fruition of years of work when his own musical composition has its world premiere. Lyon is the composer of NED – A New Australian Musical, which tells the story of infamous Australian bush-ranger Ned Kelly. AdamLyon

Lyon graduated from VCA in 2010 with a Bachelor of Music (Opera). During his time at VCA Lyon was playing around with a song he had written about an Irish father talking to his son. It got Lyon thinking about one particular Irish father – Red Kelly, the father of Ned. Lyon realised he hadn’t really heard any music about Ned’s relationship with his parents. Lyon began to write from Red’s perspective and this inspiration ultimately lead him to compose the big anthem number ‘Such Is Life’.

Lyon then talked to his wife, Anna, about writing a book to match his music and also approached Marc McIntyre to collaborate on the project.

Ned was pretty much put on hold during Lyon’s stint in King Kong, but as the season was coming to a close he thought it was time to pursue Ned again.

Being a principal cast member in King Kong has certainly helped gain support for Ned. Lyon laughs and refers to it as his “F grade celebrity status”. But his time in King Kong has done more than just open doors for support. The whole King Kong experience gave Lyon an invaluable insight into the process of bringing a world premiere musical to life and as Lyon says, has made this whole Ned process “less terrifying”.

The musical is being supported by Bendigo. Lyon is a local Bendigo lad.¬† He grew up in a working class family in a country town. The show will open in a new state of the art theatre in Bendigo, built around the historic Sandhurst Gaol. It’s almost the stuff of a script itself. A world premiere of a musical is a huge event for Bendigo Tourism – but even more special in a new theatre and written by a local.

There’s that phrase again: world premiere. When I ask Lyon about going from his debut professional role in a world premiere for King Kong to now launching his own epic world premiere musical he laughs and comments, “I’m not a fan of dreaming or thinking small. I don’t have many skills sets but I think bravery and imagination I’ll put among them!”

I asked Lyon how it feels as it all comes together ahead of opening night. He replied, “It’s the most artistically satisfying thing I have ever done in my life!”

He says it’s hard to explain the feeling without going into cliches about parenthood, but it does feel like birthing a child. There is also a huge sense of responsibility that comes with this, but he says once rehearsals started he knew he could do this. Lyon is confident in his creative team and is enjoying this fun part of the journey, admitting he’s happy to let his production and creative teams do their jobs. Lyon has carefully selected all his team and trusts them to bring his vision of Ned to life. He’s also thrilled with the cast they have selected.

NED – A New Australian Musical opens next week at the new Ulumbarra Theatre in Bendigo for a short, limited season. After that … well hopefully the show will attract the interest of a large producer with an interest to see a full scale production in Melbourne and beyond.

Just listening to this sample of ‘Such Is Life’ you can’t help to get a little excited and feel this musical has the potential to be something huge. Something epic.

As Lyon sums it up, “I can’t imagine it won’t be wonderful.”


NED – A New Australian Musical opens on Friday 22nd May and plays for six performances only.

For more information and to purchase tickets

For details on the new Ulumbarra Theatre