Melbourne’s Musical Royalty
Moomba has been a BIG tradition in Melbourne for many years and the celebration has been led by many famous faces from their real thrones as King and Queen of Moomba. But this year’s selection for King and Queen of the Labour Day tradition suggest an exciting change in Melbourne!
Over the years, the prestigious positions at the heart of the Moomba parade have been held by some very famous Melbourne identities. Some of the recipients of this holy honour have been by John Farnham, Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum, ballet dancer Sir Robert Helpmann, Graham Kennedy, Daryl Somers, Paul McNamee, Mickey Mouse, Con the Fruiterer, Denise Drysdale, Marina Prior, Cathy Freeman, Lano and Woodley and Ruby Rose.
Today the 2014 Moomba King and Queen were announced in what appears to be a defining step for the Melbourne entertainment scene. They are . . . *Drum Roll Please* . . . .
Ms Lucy Durack and Mr Bert Newton. Excuse me while I go and jump for joy!
While Bert may have his origins elsewhere, he is currently known as a mainstay of the musical theatre industry having appeared in countless Melbourne productions. From The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music to recent hits such as Wicked, Annie and The Producers, Bert is largely known for his theatrical contributions within the younger generations. And to top it all off, he is currently starring in the touring sensation of Grease!
On the hand, while Bert may not have started in the theatre, Lucy Durack is widely considered the leading lady of Australian musical theatre. Having risen to fame through her lead role in Wicked, she has since led the company of Legally Blonde as Harvard’s pinkest graduate, Elle Woods, and is currently starring in MTC’s Private Lives before returning to the Wicked revival later this year. And within theatre circles, the fans go nuts for her!
Notice some aspect of similarity between the two? They are both huge names in the musical theatre industry.
This is a great opportunity for the industry because it will highlight the diverse range of theatre on offer in Melbourne. Especially with emphasis on the Queen of Moomba’s involvement as the lead role in the return of Australian favourite Wicked.
But it also shows that modern accessible theatre is reaching a much larger audience within the Melbourne culture. While everyone knows Bert, the fact that Lucy Durack is crowned as Queen of Moomba emphasises the awareness that Melbournians have for the theatre star – and that can only mean one thing . . . more of them are going to the theatre and being exposed to her brilliant performances (among the many other great offerings of this city!).
That is a big thumbs up for the theatre industry because they are clearly opening the doors to a much wider range of people.
In saying all this, I have a feeling that this year’s choice of royalty might also be a stab at Sydney to emphasise Melbourne as the theatre capital of Australia. With a blockbuster year ahead of Melbourne, including the opening of Wicked and Les Misérables as well as the Broadway phenomenon Once, now is the best chance to prove to Sydney (and any producers who might be watching) that Melbourne crowds embrace musical theatre.
And through the selection of Bert and Lucy to lead our Melbourne tradition, it is pretty clear that they do!