Pippa Grandison has an impressive list of credits in theatre, television and film. Her roles include Elphaba in Wicked and Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins, but each time she took over the roles from the previous performers and with very little freedom to give her own interpretations to the roles. For the world premiere of Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical Grandison will originate the role of Judith Durham. It’s a unique opportunity for any performer.
“I’ve been pinching myself!” exclaimed Grandison.
“I feel like I’m in a parallel universe. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet … I don’t want to say I’ve been waiting all my life for a role like this, but in a way it feels like that. It’s happened. It’s arrived. It’s really a dream come true, but I’ve never really been an ambitious person. I’ve just gone with the flow and if things come my way and I’m right for the part, I’m right for it.” Grandison said, then added, “Often I know that before I even audition. I won’t got a part if I don’t think I’m right for it.”
Not sure whether she’d even be interested, Grandison’s agent suggested she take a look at this world premiere Australian musical about the Seekers – Georgy Girl. Grandison watched clips of Judith Durham and The Seekers on You Tube and immediately knew she had to audition. She felt right for the role.
“I had a look and I just felt such a connection with the band and with her (Judith Durham) and I thought, “Okay, yep, I think I have to go in for this,” … it was a very spiritual kind of experience,” reflected Grandison.
Grandison is well aware of the significance of the person she will be portraying in Georgy Girl: Judith Durham AO, considered to be Australia’s first international pop princess.
“It is a huge role. There is definitely pressure attached to the role, but it’s such an honour. Obviously I auditioned for the part but I kind of didn’t really dream that it would come my way and I am so thrilled.”
Grandison only met the real Judith Durham just moments before the first media call for Georgy Girl, when the cast were announced and several songs were performed. Grandison admits she was very nervous performing in front of Judith Durham and avoided looking at her for the first song until she finally had the courage to sneak a look.
“It’s quite a surreal experience really and such a great honour to be able to sing their songs. But you do wonder what is she thinking, does she think it sounds okay, would she prefer I did this, would she prefer I did that?” said Grandison.
Grandison need not have worried. The reaction from the Seekers to this first performance by those who will portray them in Georgy Girl? A standing ovation.
“When they stood up for us – oh my gosh!” exclaimed Grandison.
Rehearsals are now well underway and this is the part of the process Grandison enjoys the most, particularly as she explores the life of Judith Durham and The Seekers in more detail. Grandison was surprised to discover just how many of The Seeker songs she already knew – including all the lyrics – regarding the music of The Seekers as being like a soundtrack to our lives.
Grandison’s biggest goal for Georgy Girl? To play Judith Durham truthfully.
Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical opens at Her Majesty’s Theatre in previews on Tuesday 15th December ahead of the official opening night on Tuesday 22nd December.