Keating! Live!

Broadcast nationally on ABC2 from the Seymour Centre, Sydney
Live site at the Atrium, Federation Square, Melbourne
Wednesday 20th August 2008

It's over two years since I saw the Drowsy Drivers version of Keating! at Trades Hall and it has since gone on to have a very successful season with Company B of over 483 shows and has been seen by 150,000 people. I hadn't made it to the revised version, so I was looking forward to seeing the new songs. As I can't get ABC2 at home, I was glad to be able to go see it at Federation Square instead.

I arrived at the live site about 15 minutes before the show started, so the only seats left were partly obscured by a potted palm. Also the sound was a bit muddy in some points due to their being one set of speakers. Stellar effort to get it screened in the space though. As I have the Drowsy Drivers version, I ended up buying the Company B cast recording from a nice lady who was doing the merch. For some reason "Antony B" isn't on the new version, but luckily I have it on the old version.

Special guests in the audience at the performance included Kerry O'Brien, Cheryl Kernot and Paul Keating himself.

The first act is pretty much how I remember it from seeing the show a couple of years ago. I thought having the cast act as stage hands to move part of the set around while singing was great also.

Much amusement in the intermission came from Paul Keating taking the stage and Casey Bennetto running on stage, only to give him the house microphone instead of the TV one so nobody could hear him. The live-crosses to the screening sites didn't go according to plan as I don't know what Fenella Kernebone said in Melbourne due to the audio being muted to prevent feedback.

Even though I couldn't hear some of what was going on, the piece in the dressing room went well, especially Terry Serio complaining that he has to change from everyone liking him as Bob Hawke in the first half, to having people boo and jeer him whilst playing John Howard in the second act.

Kerry O'Brien was interviewed about his cameo in the show and on Paul Keating in general.

The second act had most of the new songs and I thought worked out great. The song Freaky went for a lot longer than in the version I saw with "Alexander Downer" going out into the audience and up the stairs during the song.

John Howard's song "The Mateship" with on-stage costume changes also got a lot of laughs (tracksuit, cammo, shirt and akubra). Terry Serio does a great job to make himself look like a short-arse as I didn't think he was much shorter than Mike McLeish (Keating).

Heavens, Mister Evans featured cut-away reaction shots for Cheryl Kernot, which were funny the first few times, but not for the whole song.

Some of the songs were changed around a bit for this version and the ending, but it still works out great. Congratulations to the ABC2 Live crew for getting that footage of the audience clapping in Melbourne and managing to get it cut in time for the finale.

One of the funniest parts of the show was at the end during the curtain call. Again someone gave Paul Keating the house microphone so nobody watching on TV could hear him speaking. One of the presenters microphones was borrowed and passed down the line to Neil Armfield, who decided not to give it to Paul Keating for some reason. They'll buff that out in post obviously (like it isn't going to be on DVD!)

It was a great show and hopefully the ABC will screen more live productions on a TV channel I can actually get at home in the future.


Created on ... December 30, 2006