Paul Farrell stars as Johnny O'Keefe in the Ballina Players production, Shout: The Legend of the Wild One.
Paul Farrell stars as Johnny O'Keefe in the Ballina Players production, Shout: The Legend of the Wild One. Supplied

Shouting from the stage top

FOR Byron Bay’s Paul Farrell, life on stage comes naturally.

The funny thing is, he only came to the stage six years ago after seeing a production of Big River put on by the Ballina Players.
 

Farrell auditioned for the next musical to come along, which was Anything Goes, and scored the lead role.
 

Not bad for someone whose only singing experience was in choir as a school boy.
 

“I saw the performance and thought ‘I could do that’,” Farrell says. And the rest is history. “It’s really changed my life,” he says.


Farrell has again picked up the leading role in Shout: The Legend of The Wild One, the musical about Johnny O’Keefe, which he says is his most challenging part yet.
 

Audiences will also recognise Farrell from his part as Peter Allen in the Ballina Players’ production of The Boy From Oz.
 

With 30 songs to learn in Shout, and as many costume changes, Farrell has little more than two weeks to perfect them and is doing his best to relax as much as possible before opening night.
 

“It’s a very challenging role for me,” he says.


Johnny O’Keefe had a huge impact on Australian music and is credited as the first Australian musician to tour the United States. He was also the first Australian act to have a hit in their Top 40 charts.
 

O’Keefe remains the most successful chart-topping artist in Australia with 49 top 40 hits.
 

Big numbers to feature in the musical, which details O’Keefe’s career, include Wild One, Cry, She’s My Baby, Move Baby Move and Shout.
 

The cast also includes newcomer Grace Hammond as O’Keefe’s wife Marianne.
 

The musical is directed by Judy Woodfield (Money and Friends) and Wendy Simpson (Pirates of Penzance).
 

Shout: The Legend of the Wild One is on at the Ballina Players Theatre from June 17 to July 9.

Tickets available from Just Funkin Music, Ballina, 6686 2440.



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