As someone who was born in the 90s, the Seekers are not a band I am overly familiar with, but mention the name to any Australian in the generation before mine and you will be met with a raving recount of their entire career and the list of their favourite tunes. The Seekers are an Australian Pop Quartet that started out in the 1960’s before dominating the UK and US charts alongside their success in Australia. Georgy Girl the Seekers Musical was created to allow a new generation to explore their journey to success and rekindle Australia’s love for their music.
Avenoir spoke with Ian Stenlake prior to Perth’s opening night to discuss the show and his long history with Australian theatre and television. Stenlake stars as John Ashby, the Seeker’s tour manager in the show who falls in love with Judith. “You get to see Judith’s relationship with probably one of the first boyfriends in her life as a very young girl in London and falls in love for the first time. We get to see a little bit of the drama and the conflict that can happen in a relationship, especially young ones,” Stenlake explains.
The musical highlights a number of different songs from The Seeker’s career, including some of the lesser known. Stenlake said that it was interesting to learn the songs he couldn’t remember hearing in his youth.
“Listening to the words of those songs has really opened my mind to why their music was so powerful, and the poetry in the lyrics.”
“There was a very special occasion on opening night in Melbourne and then opening night in Sydney to have them [the original Seekers] join us on stage for the curtain call was an incredible feeling.” Ian Stenlake reminisced. “I really felt like a part of history. Speaking with them, I know how important this musical is for them, and the longevity of their name and their music, and to introduce their story to a whole new generation of Australians, it’s great to be able to do that here in Perth.”
Ian Stenlake has starred in television shows such as Sea Patrol and Stingers but admits theatre was his first passion. “I trained as a classical actor so television was an interesting and diverse tangent from that. So now whenever I’m on stage I love it and musicals again were another kind of divergence.”
“I’ve grown to love singing and using singing as a way of telling stories.”
Stenlake revealed his breakthrough acting gig was formed from a chance meeting during a backpacking trip in Europe in 1989. “I ended up on the set of the Godfather part three,” he admitted. “My first kind of acting gig was a very big Hollywood film. The principle actors taught me back then that I may never get back on the set of a Hollywood film again but the journey trying to is lots of fun.”
When asked about the toughest part of performing he admitted the toughest parts are what makes it so exciting. “It really is the discipline and the concentration. It’s split second timings all night, and so you just have to have your wits about you, and that level of nervous energy and sustaining that over hours at a time is exhausting but, at the same time, it’s thrilling. We work very hard in the rehearsal process to put something together and then every single night we have to replicate that. There is no better feeling than coming off and thinking “Well, I nearly got that right” because you rarely do.”
“It’s nearly impossible to get it exactly right every night but it’s so much fun trying.”
Stenlake left us with some advice for young performers looking to make the next step in their career, “You know you’ve got to, first of all, make sure it’s what you want to do because it can be a long, tough road. When and if you make that decision, never give up.”
Georgy Girl the Seekers Musical opens at Perth’s Crown Theatre this weekend and has a strictly limited season. For more information or to book tickets visit the Georgy Girl the Seekers Musical or Ticket Master websites.