Cameron Goodall Channels the Stars Who Died Too Young

Returning to an Adelaide stage for the first time in 12 months is theatre all-rounder Cameron Goodall, who will star in a show partly designed around his many talents as an actor, musician and singer.

Goodall, the co-founder of both the experimental theatre collective The Border Project and alt-folk band The Audreys, was last on an Adelaide stage for the Cabaret Festival’s The Juliet Letters last year and will return for the June festival in Robyn Archer’s The Sound of Falling Stars, a follow-up some four decades later to A Star is Torn, her 1979 show.

Goodall, who can switch deftly between avant-garde productions and mainstream extravaganzas, last Adelaide appearance came soon after he finished a long stint touring the Disney spectacle, The Lion King. “I did nearly 1000 shows of The Lion King, which was enough, shall I say,” he laughs. “It was an amazing show to be in but I’m glad that it’s over.”

The world premiere of Archer’s – the former Adelaide Festival director and doyen of the arts – latest work sees Goodall inhabit the roles of iconic male artists who died too young, including crooners such as Elvis, Sam Cooke and Bobby Darin through to rock icons such as Bon Scott and Kurt Cobain. Archer contacted Goodall, who starred in State Theatre’s brilliant 2013 production of Hedda Gabler, about a year ago to have a “look at some of the material”.

“Which I think was a kind of an audition, really,” Goodall says. “We spent a couple of days on the material together. As the show has such a ridiculous range and requires such versatility, I think she wanted to test a lot of it out, just to check I could sing opera like Mario Lanza and then sing Highway to Hell. She was looking for a particular kind of performer who could sing different styles but also had a strong acting background. Lucky for me, I kind of fit that bill.”

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In 1979, the year Goodall was born, Archer premiered A Star is Torn, her one-woman cabaret where she embodied female stars such as Billie Holliday and Judy Garland who had died before their time.

“She had for many years harboured this idea of doing some kind of male version of that but hadn’t quite figured out how to do that.”

Until now.

“Ostensibly it’s a concert where I play guitar and sing with a little band but it’s also intertwined with monologues,” Goodall says. “It’s kind of linked together by an investigation into how these guys died.

“The show has a vague chronological trajectory where it starts with Hank Williams and Elvis, this kind of golden era. As it moves through time, you get into the counterculture guys and there’s obviously an expansion going on there in terms of mindset. You notice this trend over that time, the way that these guys depart is becoming increasingly gruesome and what’s expected of them as stars is changing as well. They are expected to be more confessional, more vulnerable and give more of themselves. Expose more by an audience that is ever hungry to either see people self-destruct or to see young men, so exposed in the art of singing for an audience, that it kind of brings about their demise.”

The Sound of Falling Stars
Cabaret Festival
Dunstan Playhouse
Wednesday, June 21 and Thursday, June 22
adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au

Photography: Damian Bennett

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