Touring the Sounds of Australia

BY BETH TAYLOR

Three performers on stage in Launceston standing around a tea table. One wears a white beard.

Dad and Dave in action at Launceston. Photographer: Neil Richardson, The Examiner

Cooee Cabaret was an original family cabaret show which toured around regional Australia from 2010–12. Contemporary musical director and cabaret performer Nigel Ubrihien created the show – weaving together iconic Australian songs and sound recordings, drawn from the NFSA’s Sounds of Australia.

Cooee included diverse works – from the earliest recordings of Indigenous language in the late 1890s, through well-loved advertising jingles and radio broadcasts, to contemporary popular music. The show got people thinking, singing along and learning all at once.

Cooee Cabaret was staged 26 times in 19 regional locations, covering all states and territories (except the Northern Territory) and was seen by over 4300 people.

  • May 2010: Mildura and Gunnedah
  • August 2010: Canberra
  • November 2010: Warrnambool, Mount Gambier, Colac and Drysdale
  • February 2011: Coffs Harbour and Lismore
  • March 2011: Boonah and Toowoomba
  • February 2012: Burnie, Hobart, Launceston and Devonport
  • May 2012: Mandurah, Bunbury, Margaret River and Perth

The show starred Nigel Ubrihien, Stephen Anderson and Guy Simon.

Songs and sounds featured in the show included: the Vegemite and Aeroplane Jelly jingles, much loved country larrikins Dad and Dave, Slim Dusty’s ‘Pub With No Beer’, Dorothea Mackellar’s classic ode to outback Australia, ‘My Country’, ‘Along the Road to Gundagai’ and ‘Waltzing Matilda’, and pop classics ‘I Am Woman’ and Indigenous protest song ‘Treaty’.

Audiences enjoyed singing along to their favourite Aussie tunes and jingles and were encouraged to nominate their own favourite Sound of Australia.

Local choirs, acapella groups, actors and musicians were also included, presenting their own original works, and interpretations of songs from the Sounds of Australia registry at each show. Many of the artists are featured in the slideshow above.

Watch Shane Howard’s guest appearance in Warrnambool, or Alex Hood singing his kid’s classic ‘Brumby Jack’ in Coffs Harbour, and many more on NFSA’s YouTube Channel.

Who are the performers?

Nigel Ubrihien standing on a rock next to a sculpture

Nigel Ubrihien

A graduate of the Sydney Conservatorium, Nigel continued his studies at the Academy of Music in Prague, Czech Republic. He works in many areas of music theatre as performer, teacher, actor, writer, arranger, composer and conductor and in genres as varied as opera, cabaret, drama and musical theatre.

 

 

Blaclk and white headshot of Stephen Anderson

Stephen Anderson

Stephen Anderson graduated from NIDA in 2006 and has since built a career as a talented and versatile dramatic and musical performer. His credits include the sadomasochistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors and the Emcee in Cabaret (for the New Theatre). He has performed Swan Lake with the Paris Opera Ballet and appeared in the Sydney premiere of the contemporary opera Dead Man Walking. Most recently, Stephen has toured Australia, New Zealand and the UK as ‘The Predators’ with the highly successful productions of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Black and white headshot of Guy Simon

Guy Simon

Guy hails from the Worimi people (near Taree, NSW) and is a recent graduate from NIDA. He appeared in a range of NIDA productions including Lord of the Flies, Hamlet, The Threepenny Opera and The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, with acclaimed physical theatre company Legs on the Wall. He also appeared in Leah Purcell’s recent award-winning short film, Aunty Maggie & The Womba Wakgun.

 

Check out highlights of Cooee Cabaret’s performances in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and New South Wales on YouTube and Flickr.

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia acknowledges funding support from the Australian Government through the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program.