Hats Off to The Wild One

It was one of the glitziest entertainment launches this town has seen for a long time. The "who's who" of Sydney assembled at the Capitol Theatre last week to pay tribute to the "Wild One" Johnny O'Keefe, at the opening of Shout! The Legend of the Wild One.

Milling around in the foyer were O'Keefe contemporaries Judy Stone, Col Joye, Little Pattie and Pee Wee from the Delltones as well as John-Michael Howson, John Laws, Brian Henderson, Harry M Miller, Mike Walsh, Jeannie Little and State Opposition leader Kerry Chikarovski. Rocker Jimmy Barnes had a very special reason to be there - hi son David Campbell stars as O'Keefe.

And judging by the enthusiastic standing ovation at the end, none of them regretted making the effort. With good reason - David Campbell convinced the receptive audience that he WAS Johnny O'Keefe. He sang with gusto, pranced with energy and acted with conviction. Campbell captures the fire and passion that drove O'Keefe (a Waverly boy and son of its mayor) to push the boundaries, both on stage and off, well and truly earning his reputation as the "wild one".

But Shout! is a tribute to Australian rock as well as to the man who for many embodies its birth. Under Richard Wherrett's capable direction, the era of Col Joye and The Joyboys, The Dee Jays and the Delltones comes alive, complete with the excitement which changed a generation.

O'Keefe's impact on the Australian music scene is now legendary - his belief in himself encouraged those who after him, a point underlined by the production which ends with a list of major Australian acts up in lights. As Wherrett puts it, O'Keefe led and paved the way for a host of other talents with an attitude of "crash or crash through".

A strong cast delivers good performances: Trisha Noble is the doting mother, Aaron Blabey plays the entrepreneurial but decadent American promoter, Lee Gordon, with zest, Tamsin Carroll is the neglected wife and Doug Scroope plays the initially doubtful but ultimately proud, father. Las, but not least, there's a glitzy set, fabulous costumes and period cars to please the eye.

City Weekly - Pam Walker