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Amanda Harrison


Note: Amanda Harrison was a member of the Original London Cast, 'Teen Queen' and understudy for Meat.


Mon 07 July 2003

Dear Brian,

It's been a week or so since I wrote, so I thought I'd let you know how the run went today. As you know Ben and Arlene are back in town and so the cast were primed for a good show.

Rehearsals for me have been tiring. I seem to bring the energy I remember from London to the rehearsal, so when I get home I collapse from exhaustion! I should just learn how to take it easy and chill while I still can. I just wanna get on with it now - bring on the band, the mics and all the lights now please!!!!

The run was cool. The ensemble are terrific and bring loads of energy to Ga Ga. It was good to see it all strung together so people could get a feel of what it should be like. People began to find their journey through the play today.

Arlene came in half way through this afternoon. She said that she enjoyed the performances. It's hard to judge how she feels, she keeps her cards close!

Michael and Kate are great together. Their' Who Wants To Live Forever' is beautiful. Annie is a complete legend - I can't wait for you to see her Killer Queen, she's manic! Ross's Khashoggi is very much like how Alex played him and I really think he's hilarious and very evil too!

I'm looking forward to having the whole band behind us when we do 'I Want It All' because it's difficult to hear the beat with just a piano. It will be good to set a proper tempo too, cause every time we do it, it's different, either too slow or too fast and it's really hard work!

Today we also had a publicity call at 10am. We all had to sing 'We Will Rock You' round the piano like we were 'in rehearsal' - yeah, like that happens! It was fun though. There were about four TV crews all there with the cameras and lights. After the song the crews interviewed a few of the principals.

Well I hope you are well. Hope you are getting excited about coming to Oz. Michael Falzon say's Hello. (He is here at my house having a baked dinner with Scott and I.)

S ee ya soon,

Love Amanda xxx

Sat 21 June 2003

Dear Brian

You should see the boots they are getting me to wear!! Woohoo, they are something else. A lot taller than the ones I wore in London - they were more those chunky rock boots with the metal heel, where as these ones have got great big platforms and they go almost to the top of my calf - Sexy! God, I hope I can dance in 'em!

We have been learning the Headlong dance and also Crazy Little Thing dance over the last couple of days. Ben has gone now for a couple of weeks, so it's a chance for Tony and John to set all the choreography and blocking before he gets back. I'm excited about the small changes in Headlong because we don't have the same set as London. As you know the wrecked car isn't flying out anymore, so we have make up for it with our special moves. Michael Falzon has brought a comedy moment into it which I hope Ben likes cause it's hilarious! (although, I laugh at anything, so I'm a crap judge!) It's so funny learning dance steps because you forget you have to sing as well, and most of it goes flying out the window for a little while - that and the fact that your heart is racing and you can't get your breath right! For non-dancers like myself it's a challenge to get it all running smoothly and not to come out looking like you've just run a marathon! Looking forward to seeing the new choreography in Crazy too - I love all the new stuff.

It's a little lonely being a principal again - I mean, I only ever see the people I am directly working on stage with at the moment, like Jason Chong. I see Michael and Kate to a lesser extent but I really like the times when I get to rehearse with the ensemble like in the Heartbreak Hotel scenes. I'm looking forward to seeing it all come together soon - not just to see the performances but also to get to know the people in the company!

Hope your well and not too busy taking over the world with WWRY!!!

Love Amanda xxx


Sun 22 June 2003

Dear Amanda

It’s great getting your messages. They tell me much more so than I realized they would - I really DON’T get to experience the process like you do - my viewpoint is so different, and in this case I’m thousands of miles away! But there are lots of parallels. (I get lonely too!!) Sometime it’s hard to come to terms with not being able to interact with everybody directly. There are just rare moments for me to come face to face and give what I have to give. All the rest is over-views, and long term plans, and generally sending messages down the grapevine. But you know ? - it’s still thrilling for me too. I think we made some great overall decisions for the Oz show, and the work Ben’s been putting in is spectacular. Just add a BRILLIANT Cast and Band - and - Cowabunga!!! It will rock!!! I’ll see you out there soon.

Keep it coming Amanda !

Lots of love
Bri xxx

Tue 17 June 2003

Dear Brian,

I'm sure you have heard from all the gang about the first day but I thought I'd write and give you my perspective!

I was very nervous actually. meeting everyone for the first time was a little daunting and I suppose knowing that I was one of only two of the original cast there I felt like I had something to prove. I didn't of course because we are all in the same boat over here anyway! Ben had a bit to say about the origins of the show and I couldn't help but feel a little proud of it all, knowing I had been a part of it. I feel like I have an advantage, not in knowing the material but in being part of the whole process from the beginning. a few of the cast members approached me and asked questions and a couple had even seen me do it!

the read through went well - we didn't have to sing, which I was glad about but also disappointed because it would have been good to hear all the voices, and show off a bit!! the guy playing Brit is going to be great. we will ROCK! he is lovely and very focussed as an actor - trained at NIDA you see, mmm....

The girl playing Scara is lovely too. she reminds me of me about 3 or 4 years ago - loads of energy and very very loud!!! I think she actually beats me in the loud department and that's saying something!

Mike seemed really pleased with everyone when we learnt Bo Rhap. I must say that this mob are really quick on the up take about learning the music. it was all done in a couple of hours - v. impressive! sounds amazing too.

Michael Falzon is fab too - he is a good mate of mine as you might remember so it's great for him to be in the company for my sake. I haven't heard him sing since 1996 so it came as a pleasant surprise to hear how much he has changed and improved. I think he will ROCK too!

it's great to see Ben, Tony, Mike and John all again. I feel like the family has come to visit. it will be great for my Scotty to see some familiar faces as well!

well, I shall endeavour to keep you up to date as I'm sure you will be getting daily's from all the creatives!

love Amanda xxx

BRIAN wrote the following on his Soapbox:

**Wed 18 June 03**

Amanda Harrison was the first understudy for Kerry Ellis’s “Meat” in the London show for our first year. Kerry is a hardy soul and a consummate ‘pro’ - but even she had to have holidays – so Amanda would on those days go on as ‘Meat’. We always knew she was a fab singer, even in the early days of rehearsals when she was on Doctor’s orders not to sing!!!! But she always did a great job, and we always treasured the hope that she would play the role some day. Of course, being Australian, the part in Oz cried out for her.

Of course we could not have just given her the part before the auditions – it would have been unfair to the hundreds of girls who were auditioning in Melbourne and Sydney and even New Zealand. I went out there for the final auditions with Ben, Roger and Mike, and Tony Edge, and we all felt in a strange position as regards the ‘Meat’ part. Part of us was desperate to be blown away by the talent, but part of us was hoping that we could reward Amanda’s hard work and loyalty and talent by giving her the part. Amanda’s last words to me before we left were “All right – just don’t forget me, OK?!”

Well, as it turned out there was no doubt by the end of the process – even though we saw great singers and actresses, Amanda was unanimously first choice – by dint of pure talent. So I had the pleasant task of telling her, and we are all well pleased.

Post-script : the character Amanda plays in Oz will have a different name - “Oz” !!! All will in time be revealed! Another small masterstroke from Ben! The TONY Amanda mentions in her diary is TONY EDGE – our indispensable RESIDENT DIRECTOR. He is the wonderful man who keeps a “BIBLE” of every move, word, and action in the play, constantly updated as we evolve the show, and in London he is the one who has worked ceaselessly to rehearse the understudies to the point where they can go on at a moment’s notice and seamlessly join the show if someone is sick. Tony is the most devoted and meticulous person, and without him the show would have ground to a halt a long time ago. I have to confess that a year ago I didn’t know what a resident director was! “Why do we need one?”, I would have said. Well, lots of reasons, especially in our case, that we won’t go into!!!

So now Tony, along with Mike Dixon our “Resident” Music Supervisor, if you like, are carrying the baton out to Australia, ensuring continuity between the shows, although the director, in this case our tireless perfectionist Ben Elton, is making some changes to tailor the show to Australian tastes and sensibilities. Mike has been doing the initial teaching of the chorus harmony parts (remember that , unusually these days, this is a LIVE show), and Tony Edge has been doing the same job in the 'blocking' department – ie the way the actors move around the stage, interact, speak, etc.

There are also some musical changes for the Oz show, but I won’t spoil it by telling you what they are!!!! The reports I’ve been getting from Ben and Mike are that the cast are superb, and already at a high pitch. I can’t wait!

Yours luvvie-ly !