Our Portfolio

portfolio

Portfolio

Some glimpses of Barry Ferrier's diverse career in music, theatre and media design.

Heaven & Hell : the Friendship of the Big O & the Man in Black

The Story of Two Music Legends

One of rock music's most gifted singers, Roy Orbison grew up in Texas and worked in the oil fields, dreaming of music success. He was gifted with a clear tenor that soared into an angelic falsetto, later adored the world over. After a chance meeting with Johnny Cash, he was introduced to Sun Records by this new friend, and went on to enjoy a string of hits from the late 1950's through the mid–1960s. He moved between two music styles –– up-tempo rockabilly songs . . . and dramatic ballads of isolation and longing. He was a shy, staid, almost motionless performer, his mouth barely seeming to move as he sang his songs’ poignant and often painful lyrics, with his swept back pompadour (his almost white hair was always dyed black) and a mysterious aloofness behind his trademark black, thick-lensed dark glasses Just weeks before his death on Dec. 6, 1988, Roy Orbison told Rolling Stone magazine that he couldn’t sum up his life in a paragraph, but might be able to do it through his songs. "Parts of Crying, parts of Pretty Woman, too, and Running Scared. . . . Pieces of my songs would tell the story." After his career waned he made a huge comeback with the Supergroup "The Travelling Wilberries".

Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, was a singer, guitarist and songwriter whose prolific music innovatively mixed country, rock, blues and gospel influences. Born in 1932 in Arkansas, Johnny Cash grew up on a poor cotton farm and joined the Air Force in 1950. He co-founded a band following his discharge, and within a few years Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two had scored hits with songs like "Walk the Line." Cash's career was nearly derailed in the 1960s by a serious substance-abuse problem, but his marriage to June Carter and acclaimed album Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968) put him back on track. In later years, Cash joined the country supergroup the Highwaymen and went on to release a series of award winning barebones solo recordings with producer Rick Rubin. He died of complications from diabetes on September 12, 2003.

Roy Orbison first met Johnny Cash when they both performed live to air at a small Texas radio station - Roy was the lead vocalist with a rising local band who had won a resident spot on the show, while Johnny was in Texas with Carl Perkins to promote his first chart success "Cry Cry Cry". Johnny heard Roy sing and was so impressed he offered to help him get in front of legendary Sam Philips, the head of the iconic Sun Records, with the aim of securing a record contract. It was the beginning of a lifetime friendship, as the two men embarked on their unique individual wild ride to music stardom. For over a half a century they experienced a parallel journey through the highs and lows, the pressures of celebrity, personal tragedy, incredible success, disappointments and falures, come-backs and Super Groups, each attaining legendary status as towering figures of popular music, remaining close friends to the end.

Both these wonderful musical talents have left us now, and, in this fantasy show, we meet our two legends in the Waiting Room at the Pearly Gates, where they discover that they each have serious misgivings about how they will be received by Saint Peter ... ...and they begin to recount stories of their lives, both men concerned at how the excesses of their youth will be measured in the Great Big Ledger of Life...

Johnny Cash was a wildman in his youth and with a deep, dark voice and a penchant for women, drugs and drinking there is no doubt he had a devil to deal with. Roy, with the voice of an angel was a different kind of man, and that contrast in singing style and lifestyle makes for a fascinating story. It is not widely known that, at the time of Roy Orbison's greatest personal tragedy - two of his three young sons were killed when his house burnt down while he was touring the UK - Johnny stepped in to help his friend who could not face returning to the scene of his loss, and he bought the property from Roy and preserved it as a tribute to these lost innocents.

In a macabre twist, Johnny later built another house on the property and it too was consumed by fire. Thus this highly entertaining show weaves together two fascinating life stories and a series of wonderful songs which are amongst the most widely know and loved hit songs of popular music history. With both performers strong vocalists and possessing unique gifts as multi instrumentalists, this show can be presented with a cast of just two - with live musical backing (no fake backing tracks) - Slim plays double bass to Barry's highly skilled guitar in the Johnny Cash songs, and Barry plays drums & keyboards to Slim's guitar in the Roy Orbison songs.

Byron Bay based musicians Barry Ferrier and Slim Pickens met in 2002 at the weekly open mic night at a hotel in the quaint rural town of Bangalow and immediately forged a friendship and creative partnership that has endured 15 years. Throughout these years they have been performing their Ry Cooder style blues and roots music together as "Slim Pickens & Dr. Baz" and in this format they have played at the Byron Bay Blues Festival, Blues on Broadbeach Festival, the Tamworth Country Music Festival and the Gympie Music Muster, as well as hundreds of shows in pubs and clubs up and down the eastern seaboard and have released two albums, "Cactus" and "Next Time".

In 2005 and 2006 they travelled to Norway to perform at two festivals and clocked up over 60 gigs there as well as performing in London and touring Northern Ireland. They have also worked together in the rockabilly showband "the Purple Drippers" performing at the Coolie Rocks Festival and the Gympie Music Muster.

For the past few years Slim and Barry have enjoyed great success with a stage musical written by Barry on the life of Johnny Cash entitled "I Hear That Train a-Comin' : the Johnny Cash Story" which has recently returned from a sell out mini-tour, including shows at Darwin & Alice Springs Entertainment Centres, and acclaimed performances at some of the biggest venues in Sydney, (and also features their talented friends Ilona Harker as June Carter and Mark Heazlitt as Luther Perkins). Barry's ability to emulate the unique deep voice of Johnny Cash is mirrored by Slim's powerful tenor that soars effortlessly to the vocal range made famous by Roy Orbison. When they discovered that Roy and Johnny were life-long friends, it was just too tantalizing not to try to put together a new show that showcased this great story and their own friendship and equally contrasting voices.

Thus was born a new musical tribute show that weaves together the amazing story of these two legendary performers in a fascinating journey through their epic lives and their repertoire of famous and widely loved songs. 

"We became like brothers, right from the start..... and it stayed that way right to the end." 

Johnny Cash

Read more...

Johnny Cash Tribute Show

The Australian Johnny Cash Tribute Show

Country Superstar Johnny Cash was a music industry legend for half a century with an instantly recognisable voice and style. The hit movie "I Walk the Line" introduced his dramatic life story and his unmistakeable, tough music to a younger generation of music lovers. Johnny Cash fans now cover three generations.

Even people who might secretly confess to hating Country Music are nevertheless fired up with enthusiasm about his legendary up-tempo hits such as Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire, Get Rhythm, I Walk the Line - there are just so many great and unique songs in the Johnny Cash repertoire.

Those familiar with the highly successful bio-pic will know of the enduring love story between Johnny Cash and June Carter. A member of the iconic country music group The Carter Family, June grew up in showbiz and became an accomplished comedienne. singer, and song writer - a true music professional and star in her own right. Together they were a towering force in American Music.

Vocalist & writer Barry Ferrier has brought together a team of talented performers to create an immersive music theatre show based on the Cash Story and interaction between these two gifted and unique music artists, told in the first person with insights into Johnny & the Tennessee Two's wild ride from obscurity to stardom. 

Read more...

Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

In 1975 I auditioned for a production of "Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" to be staged at the, then, 'brand new' Seymour Centre, in Sydney. I flew up from Melbourne for the audition arannged by my agent Faith Martin, and just 'scraped in' to the show as chorus understudy...  and when the show opened spent a few frustrating weeks having to be there for the call - but not appearing, till finally someone left and I joined the cast full time.

Director Rufus Collins, really impressed me, a gentle African American with gold rimmed glasses, a soft voice but a quiet confidence.  He went on to become an eminent actor, known for The Hunger (1983), Shock Treatment (1981) and Saving Souls (1995). He was also influential in introducing Black Theatre to Europe. He died in1996 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Rufus visualised the show as a cartoon and he had 5 tons of pure white river sand installed as the stage. which guaranteed the physicality of the show. It starred a young Mark Holden as Joseph,  who had won Starsearch (the 70s equivalent of Australian Idol) with his golden voice and boy next door looks,  but was yet to throw roses as a pop star. We became firm friends for a while and I used to travel with him from Manly to Redfern each night in his yellow Mini Minor. I went on to work with Mark on an ABC radio play he was producing called the White Bird, for which I was recorded improvising on a variety of exotic instruments including a zither and bamboo flutes.

 

I went on to understudy the eminent and charming Arthur Dignam's Potiphar, but never got to perform the role except in rehearsal. It was highly physical romp with twelve brothers (including the burly Joe Dicker, Paul "P.J." Johnstone, Robert Forza to name a few) diving recklessly around in the sand like a rock n roll footy team, and the band was a cracker, with Jimmy Duke-Younge, later of Bullamakanka  on drums. Gordon Waller of the pop duo "Peter & Gordon" fame (Peter Asher was Jane Asher's brother, and the Beatles penned some hit songs for them) was flown out from London to play the Pharoah, (and I later briefly backed him in some Sydney club gigs). John McTernan was dignified and thoroughly professional as the Narrator, and as always Patrick Flynn inspired and terrified as the music director. I have a vivid memory of being called on in one devestatingly prominent rehearsal to be the sole music backing on guitar for some long lost reason, and felt very excited and humble to be lowest on the pecking order  and playing before that team of outstanding youthful talent and the great Patrick yelling orders. The Lindsay Kemp Company were performing "Flowers" up the road at the New Arts Cinema at Glebe, and a joint cast party was thrown in our foyer which led me to become friends with Andrew Wilson, leading on to another major theatrical experience in Salome.

 
Contributors
NameFunctionNotes
Eve Ritscher Costume Designer  
Brian Thompson Designer  
Rufus Collins Director  
Michael Carlos Musical Arranger  
Patrick Flynn Musical Director  
Joseph Dicker Performer Levi
Arthur Dignam Performer Potiphar/Simeon
Barry Ferrier Performer Ishmaelite
Robert Forza Performer Napthali
Denni Gordon Performer Jacob's Other Wives/Adoring Girls
Mark Holden Performer Joseph
Paul Johnstone Performer Isaachar/Butler
Gillian Jones Performer Jacob's Favourite Wife/Canaan Days
Merryn Joseph Performer Ishmaelite/Jacob's Other Wives/Adoring Girls
Stephen Little Performer Ishmaelite
Nicholas Lush Performer Asher
John McTernan Performer Narrator
Doreene Patenal Performer Jacob's Other Wives/Adoring Girls
Bill Paton Performer Gad/Baker
Andrew Sharp Performer Zebulun
Glenn Taylor Performer Benjamin
Jerry Thomas Performer Reuben
Stephen Thomas Performer Judah/Benjamin Calypso
Gordon Waller Performer Pharaoh/Jacob
Brian Withers Performer Dan

The reviews and audience reception were outstanding

Read more...

The Three Legends of Kra

In 1985 I became Music Director and composer for the epic Robyn Archer penned production entitled "The Three Legends of Kra" which was a feature of the opening ceremonies for the then brand new Queensland Performing Arts Complex. The theme was woman heros in various cultural contexts using craft to avoid impending disaster. The production was designed on a monumental scale by the genius of Australian theatre design and visual theatre Nigel Triffet and starred Diane Cilento (of "Goldfinger" fame, ex-wife of Sean Connery and the daughter of Lady Cilento who introduced vitamins supplements to the world ).
 
I wrote the third section of music for the Brisbane Youth orchestra in the style of Sibelius and conducted this awesome young orchestra for the nine performances - my one chance so far to write for and conduct an orchestra.
Read more...

Good Night World

In 1983 Barry co-wrote (with journalist, social issue campaign specialist and media lecturer Gerald Frape) the musical comedy of terrors "Goodnight World",  which enjoyed a 4 week season at Brisbane's historic La Boite Theatre in October 1984 (a suitably Orwellian year).  

Directed by the talented award winning writer/director Mary Hickson and with a cast of 16 young actors the show was set in a television studio on the eve of Armageddon. "Goodnight World" is a current affairs program that goes to air at midnight, and tonight the show is dedicated to Doomsday Theories - however, as fate would have it, Atomic Annihilation swept the world . The cast is trapped in the underground tv studio - and the show must go on. Various characters were to appear on the show for a discussion of this futuristic theories of the looming dangers of modern society. It featured Barry Ferrier as Professor E.H. Bagwash (complete with bad Russion accent) who was here to demonstrate the future of humanity - an android...

"Is the real purpose of the human race to breed a race of perfect Androids - a being that doesn't hate, that makes rational decisions not influenced by greed and xenophobia, an intelligent creature that doesn't destroy it's own environment? "

The Android was played by Tracey Tainsh (known for the films Frenchman's Farm (1987), The Power, the Passion (1989) and Bootleg (1985) . The professor is ultimately whipped to death by his robotic stage assistant when she suffers  a system malfunction while singing a torch song verson of "The Android" (see a video version of the song). Rebecca Frith another outstanding Australian actress, known for Love Serenade (1996), Me Myself I (1999) and Fetch (1998), and NIDA graduate Jeremy Godwin also appeared in the cast. Prominent Brisbane multi instrumentalist Donald Hall was band leader and vocal coach for the project.

The show received a rave review from the Australian celebrating it's pop melodies and recommending it move to other capitol cities, but alas it was not to be.

Read more...

Africa : the Savage Musical

Steve J. Spears, 1951-2007

After Barry finished the third season of Jesus Christ Superstar he auditioned for Africa : the Savage Musical written by Australian playwright Steve J. Spears. The cast included Steve J. Spears, Rodney Bain OBE (aka Felix b. Tonto), Rod Smith, Glenda Lum and Pam Miller (later a member of pop band the Ferrets) with Peter Inglis as musician and the show toured university campuses in 4 states. It was a savage look at the plight of indigenous Australians by drawing a parallel with South Africa's apartheid and featured some very catchy songs, slapstick and physical satire.

Read more...

Jesus Christ Superstar

Barry Ferrier's first venture into music theatre came after a chance encounter of a queue of people with guitars outside the Capitol Theatre led to a successful audition for the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Jesus Christ, Superstar. He played the role of one of Jesus' twelve disciples and an understudy role as a Pharisee, performing 8 shows a week for nearly two years, at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney and the Palais Theatre in Melbourne.

Read more...

The Lindsay Kemp Company

Lindsay Kemp is an influential British dancer, actor, teacher, mime artist and choreographer who had a major impact on the Australian Theatre scene when his Company performed in Sydney and Melbourne in the 70s.

After meeting music director Andrew Thomas Wilson at a cast party for "Joseph & the Amazing technicolour Dreamcoat" and spending a weekend jamming with Andrew at my flat in Manly, I was invited to join the internationally celebrated Lindsay Kemp Company and worked with this ensemble in Kemp's adaption of Jean Genet's "Flowers"  at the Comedy and Her Majesties Theatres in Melbourne. I had been offered a part in the original Mad Max film just about to be shot through my agent Faith Martin, but it was then just a low budget film project with unknown stars such as a fledgling Mel Gibson, so I turned down my opportunity to  become an international film star to take on what was, at the time, the biggest "break" a young composer could have in Australia.

I went on to spend some months composing the musical score (in collaboration with Andrew Wilson) for the Oscar Wilde play "Salome",  which we performed at the New Arts Cinema, Glebe, and which later went on on to a sell out season at the Roundhouse in London. The London Times described the music for this production as "thrilling".

The score was partly prepared quadrophonic tape, mixed at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music quadrophic studio, with myself performing a range of pseudo middle eastern music on my collection of exotic instruments with Andrew contributing then futuristic spaciousness on his huge Modular Moog. In the show itself I played a range of percussion instruments, though I had a cameo role playing "La Paloma" on a mandolin, at Lindsay's feet, in the court of Herod. I recall in pre-production Lindsay asking for "the Wings of the Angel of Death" to fly from the back of the theatre to the stage - a challenging sound cue - and one of the climaxes of the show, the Dance of the Seven Veils, was a mesmerising orgasmic dance extravanganza with eerie smashing glass sounds spinning in dizzy quadrophic spaciality around the theatre, as I bashed away enthusiastically on drums and cymbals.

I was the only "straight" guy in an ensemble of eccentric and gay theatrical divas, chosen for their stunning physical beauty and artisitic abilities as dance/mim performers,  at the very dawn of the Gay Revolution. My partner at the time, documentary film maker Nikki Ma, was working on the opulent costuming and I recall a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope of memories amidst a constant weird atmosphere from the cast's consumption of various mind altering substances. I was young and relative;y innocent and it was an absolutely thrilling epsiode in my life. I spent much of my downtime time  in a flat adjoing the theatre with the blind dancer Jack Birkett, or the Great Orlando, a charismatic performer who became a great friend at the time - and I remember how cast members would have to subtly point him towards the audience at times, as he groped around in his darkness, always stealing the show.  I have some vivid memories of escorting Lindsay to theatre performances around Sydney in a tuxedo, including one celebrated night at the Sydney Opera House for a performance of a John Cage ballet, where I met my then experimental musical heroes John Cage & David Tudor.

Lindsay Kemp is also famous as a mentor to David Bowie, and first met David Bowie in the summer of 1967 and instructed him on the benefits of mime applied to any theatrical presentation. The Kemp - Bowie association together produced many new and exciting ideas and influences for the young David, who later remarked 'I owe it all to Lindsay' .

Read more...

Johnny Cash Tribute Show

The Australian Johnny Cash Tribute Show

Country Superstar Johnny Cash was a music industry legend for half a century with an instantly recognisable voice and style. The hit movie "I Walk the Line" introduced his dramatic life story and his unmistakeable, tough music to a younger generation of music lovers. Johnny Cash fans now cover three generations.

Even people who might secretly confess to hating Country Music are nevertheless fired up with enthusiasm about his legendary up-tempo hits such as Folsom Prison Blues, Ring of Fire, Get Rhythm, I Walk the Line - there are just so many great and unique songs in the Johnny Cash repertoire.

Those familiar with the highly successful bio-pic will know of the enduring love story between Johnny Cash and June Carter. A member of the iconic country music group The Carter Family, June grew up in showbiz and became an accomplished comedienne. singer, and song writer - a true music professional and star in her own right. Together they were a towering force in American Music.

Vocalist & writer Barry Ferrier has brought together a team of talented performers to create an immersive music theatre show based on the Cash Story and interaction between these two gifted and unique music artists, told in the first person with insights into Johnny & the Tennessee Two's wild ride from obscurity to stardom. 

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed