03 Aug

Other Self-penned Musicals - Magical Frank & Squizzy Taylor

Barry Ferrier met playwright and later film maker Frank Howson in the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar through a mutual acquaintance with opera singer Peter North who played Caiaphus in the show. They first collaborated on the childrens rock musical "The Faraway Land of Magical Frank". Frank Howson submitted the demo tape (which Barry made with Billy Miller later of the Ferrets fame, Shayna Stewardt - known for her work with the progressive rock band the "Tully",  and other cast memebers and musicians form Jesus Christ Superstar, which was recorded live on a two track TEAC at an old house on the harbour at Manly) to Alberts Productions in Sydney and it found its way to the desk of the head of classical music Dr. Franz Holford. A distinguished figure in Australian music, Holford saw great merit in the musical compositions and took on the project with a passion. In what was a very unusual move for the staid Alberts classical music catalogue, the company began recording an LP album of the music. The featured singers were Billy Miller as "Magical Frank", Arthur Dignam as "Merlin", Reg Livermore as "the Owl", John Paul Young as  "the kid' and Shayna Stewart as "the Princess", with Barry and Frank also playing cameo roles.

CEO  Ted Albert, who as a teenager had been the engineer on the Easybeats recordings, took time out from his huge commitments heading up the Alberts Music corporation to take a personal interest in the project and took on the role of recording engineer with Barry Ferrier producing.

Ted Albert and the very young and inexperienced Barry Ferrier formed an unusual friendship from hours in the studio together, and Ted began mentoring Barry's career for a short while, till historical events changed the course of this project.  The album was completed including the cover art but at this crucial point Alberts were swamped by the huge success of AC/DC and shelved all the projects they had in hand as tax writeoffs as the rallied to meet the challenge of having such a world wide mega success on their hands. The album was never released and still languishes in their vailts, Ted Albert having died prematurely from a life long heart issue.

Frank Howson secured a season for the musical at the Total Theatre in Melbourne and the show was performed for a six week season with the Ferrets supplying the musical backing, actress Lisa Peers as the Owl, Graham Matters as Frank, Frank Howson as the narrator and Bill Binks and Tommy Dysart (both cast members of the original Jesus Christ Superstar) also appearing. 

Because of a contractual dispute that erupted between Frank and a potential venue, Barry  also wrote, in record time,  the music for a second children's musical with Frank's libretto entitled "The Boy Who Dared to Dream".  This was later recorded by Crest International featuring the voices of Trevor White (Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar), John Waters, Brenda Kristen, and Barry Ferrier and it too was performed for a season in Melbourne.

 

Barry and Frank also collaborated on a jazz opera based on the life of notorious melbourne underworld figure and ganster Leslie "Squizzy"  Taylor. The original demo featured Colin Hay of Men at Work as Squzzy and Frank secured an album deal with Mushroom Records which was to star Wendy Matthews and John Paul Young. The pre-publicity for the album during the 10BA tax period for film making turned out to be a mistake as a movie on the same theme was rushed into production  which scuttled the Howson Ferrier album project.

In the 90s Frank secured funding for a film version of the opera, and a second demo was made of an updated version which Barry Ferrier also was using as a PhD project. The project seemed to be jinxed however, - a housefire destoyed these recordings and simultaneously Frank's film company was driven into bankruptcy through the embezzlement of funds by a director and the project stalled for a second time.

Last modified on Friday, 15 December 2017 08:24
Rate this item
(1 Vote)
Barry Ferrier

Barry Ferrier (aka Barry Ferrier) is a Byron Bay based Australian musician, songwriter /composer and multimedia designer.

Media

In the late 70s I was asked to compose a song for my friend Tommy Dysart. I had met him working as cast members of the original "Jesus Christ Superstar" and he had also featured in two musicals I wrote with Frank Howson - "Magical Frank & "The Boy Who Dared to Dream". Tommy is a totally unique, larger than life personality with a voice to match. The recording was to be the B side to a single which I also produced for his wife, the J.C. Williamson's diva, Joan Brockenshire. This track was recorded at United Sound Studios in Ultimo. Video by Dr. Baz
back to top