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Beggars Can Be Seekers


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It is quite possible that The Seekers have had more break-ups and reformations than John Farnham has (so far) had farewell tours.  On-again, off-again, back-again lead singer Judith Durham came and went amid a range of replacement singers, none of whom worked the same magic as the original combination.

The premise of this highly entertaining show is that Adelaide’s own The Beggars – ironically more famous in Europe than here, thanks to recording success and touring – have a remarkably similar tale to tell.

The Beggars are Renee Donaghey, Stuart Day, Quinton Dunne and new chum Dennis Surmon.  Together they perform their own songs, impeccable versions of The Seekers’ hits and other classic standards, all linked with the amazing tale of similarities between their own history and The Seekers’ ongoing story, as narrated by the band members.

Singer Donaghey even leaves the band mid-show, just as Durham has done, although admittedly this is after Day picks up his banjo and plays it – surely justifiable grounds.  And just as Durham rejoined her band, Donaghey is re-admitted to The Beggars after a failed solo jazz tambourine career.

In her absence, the first replacement girl singer comes and goes with indecent haste, as portrayed here by Surmon, complete with wig and silly voice.  This scenario is repeated throughout the show as The New Beggars and The New New Beggars take their place on stage with different, not very good girl singers, following a series of tantrum-fuelled departures by their temperamental diva.  A desperate attempt to troll through the audience to find their final new singer fails as Donaghey finally rejoins the band for good.

All this is pretty well done, but it’s the music – and in particular the vocal harmonies – that are the stand-out.  The beautifully clear voice of Donaghey is very well supported by the back-up harmonies of the boys, with Day and Dunne offering excellent support on lead vocals in their own cameos.

All the hits are here.  “I’ll Never Find Another You”, “The Carnival is Over”, “Morningtown Ride” and, of course, “Georgie Girl” are faithfully re-produced, along with several Beggars originals and standards such as “Open Up Them Pearly Gates” and “Sinner Man”, featuring Day’s skilful banjo.

This good-fun performance at the Star Theatre was well received by the audience, which seemed to know all the words to The Seekers’ songs, and finished with a well-deserved encore, the highlight of which was a moving rendition of Bruce Woodley’s “We Are Australian”.

Beggars Can Be Seekers will be performed again on June 27-29 at Nexus Cabaret as part of the Cabaret Fringe Festival.

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