Playing around with Banjo's famous tune 

A piece of Australian folklore with links to the south-west will be brought to life at Flagstaff Hill’s Wharf Theatre this March.

The show, The Man They Call Banjo, is based on local resident Dennis O’Keeffe’s publication Waltzing Matilda — The Secret Story of Australia’s Favourite Song and will be performed for one night only on March 6.

The show’s playwright and composer Felix Meagher is excited to bring the musical reading of the script to an area that has such strong connections to the Banjo Paterson story, especially with its controversial elements.

“Dennis and myself would particularly like the people of Warrnambool to know of the connections between them and Waltzing Matilda,” Meagher said.

“It’ll be interesting to see what the local community thinks as it potentially is a very controversial story.”

Meagher is excited to cast a light on the generally unknown aspects of Australia’s unofficial national anthem, with the musical showcasing the love triangle between Banjo Paterson, his fiancee Sarah Riley and Christina Macpherson.

“The song was written initially, according to Dennis’ research, as a love song and the chorus ‘Who’ll come a Waltzing Matilda my darling’, was a love gesture to the woman who provided the tune,” Meagher said.

“The woman who provided the tune heard it at the Warrnambool May races. 

“She hummed or sang the tune to Banjo Paterson and together they created Waltzing Matilda.”

“We think it’s a damn good story, a great story and we’re telling the story in an informal setting but with live music.”

The show will also focus on the political turmoil of the time with it having many links to the shearers’ strikes that gripped the nation in 1884.

The show’s producer Wolf Hediecker hopes to attract the wider community to the reading with him hoping that it can open the audience’s eyes to the back story of this quintessential Australian tale.

“The story is one of Australia’s great love stories, and it is set in a time and a place when Australia was as close as it has ever been to civil war,” Hediecker said.

“As such it encompasses the raw emotion, the drama and the historical significance to make it a tale and a musical of interest to all ages and all walks of life.” 

The show will also be presented at Camperdown’s Cole’s Woodshed on March 7 and at the Port Fairy Folk Festival on March 9 and 10.

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