Nundle musician and mother, Toni Swain, has taken a character from Nundle's history, John Wright (aka Yankee Jack), and brought him to life in an eight-song musical, Yankee Jack - The Musical
, to be performed by Nundle Public School students this month.
A desire to see her son Quinn perform in a musical, and a newspaper article about Yankee Jack who died as an 86-year-old Hanging Rock recluse, inspired the original work.
Toni first saw The Illustrated Sydney News article, which includes the first photograph of Yankee Jack, on the wall of Nundle's Mount Misery Gold Mine Museum when she moved to Nundle 10 years ago.
"I would always tell friends about this fascinating character in Nundle's history, a 12-year-old boy who travelled from London to find his fortune in the Hills of Gold, and between the ages of 18 and 24 crossed the oceans seven times and visited every continent," Toni says.
About 18 months ago Toni pitched the idea of writing a musical for Nundle Public School to principal Stephen Gadd, and early this year she finished writing eight original songs and a script titled, 'Yankee Jack - The Musical'.
Singer songwriter Toni worked closely with Nundle resident and historian Geoff Cummins to incorporate authentic historic events, like Captain Madgwick's locomotive and Ashton's Circus visit, newspaper articles, and speeches. They also used poetic licence to fill in unknown aspects of John Wright's life.
Toni said the most difficult part of the writing was coming up wth the first line of the script, "Why did he leave London?" She came away with the impression that John Wright was a strong, capable young lad who saw Australia as a land of opportunity.
"Writing songs for a musical came a lot easier than writing songs for commercial release or an album, because they are direct, narrative, and fun," she says.
"The students are very enthusiastic and it is satisfying to see them bring the songs, script and characters to life.
"They are so much more engaged with the songs and the story because Yankee Jack was a real person and they can relate to the Nundle and Hanging Rock landmarks, stores, and events mentioned."
Musicians Gleny Rae (violin, piano, tin whistle), Roy Payne ( guitars, accordian, concertina) and Sam Martin (banjo, mandolin, bass) will accompany the students.
Nundle Public School presents Yankee Jack, the Musical on Wednesday and Thursday, November 28-29 at Nundle Memorial Hall.
Tickets available through Stickytickets, adult $10, child $5. Evening shows 7pm
, matinee Nov 29, 12 noon. Buy Tickets
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