An emerging creative force from Dubbo is treading the boards among multiple tasks involved with staging his new show.
From an imaginative spark and some special family moments, Andy Carolan developed the 80-minute play Happy as Gary.
But his eight months of work on the dramatic comedy did not stop when the last lines were written.
Carolan will portray the title role when Happy as Gary premieres in his home town for one show only on July 26.
While he insists the play’s characters and scenarios are entirely fictional, the local
playwright proudly admits the work has been inspired by the tales and wisdom of close friends and family.
The dramatic comedy follows the life of Gary Tucker, an Australian baby boomer, and his struggles to adapt with the sweeping social and technological changes of the 21st century.
Although the play is set in today’s crazy, fast-paced world, the play’s main character frequently refers to the ‘good old days’, requiring Carolan to call on earlier generations for invaluable knowledge and recollections.
“For the play to work, audiences must be able to relate to Gary,” Carolan said.
“I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from friends, family, even strangers, to accurately create and portray Gary.”
Highest on his list of credits are mother Shelley Carolan and grandmother Jean Boland, appreciated for dedicating countless hours towards the project.
“There were mornings where I’d drop in to see my grandmother and we’d up spending the entire day working on the script together, getting advice from her on a range of things, from what scent Gary’s ex-wife’s perfume would be, to how much a can of TAB cola and a meat pie would cost at the servo in ‘76.”
It’s strengthened a precious relationship between the two, with both Carolan and his 86-year-old grandmother, reaping the rewards.
“Nan’s lively retellings of her younger days have not only contributed to the play but also to me personally,” the playwright said.
“I love hearing her yarns and seeing her eyes light up as she recalls her many
adventures around Baradine, Dubbo and trips to ‘the big smoke’.”
Carolan discovered a passion for theatre-making at high school after being involved in the 2006 South Campus musical 'How the West Was Warped', in which he played “a very flamboyant cowboy”.
He spent the remainder of high school acting, directing and stage managing shows with Dubbo Theatre Company and Wesley House Players.
He was also the director of Western Plains Theatre Company from 2012-2015, writing and producing a number of youth theatre projects.
“I truly enjoy writing and producing, just as much - possibly more - than actually being on the stage,” he said.
A number of other Dubbo locals have contributed to the script - Lester Hoy, Craig Thompson and Evol Hatton to name a few.
“Lester is a crack up, he needs a regular spot on TV,” Carolan said.
“When you come to the show and hear a dinky-di phrase like ‘that stuff’d make a sparrow fight an emu!’ – that’s Lester.”
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As it moves from script to the Dubbo Regional Theatre stage, the play is receiving the support of the community that saw Carolan first appear on stage as a child.
Promotional materials take audiences to well-known Dubbo scenes and local people make up the creative team.
“I remember, I think I was eight years old, the first time performing here in what was the civic centre back then,” Carolan said.
“To see this place come along, and to have a state of the art facility here in Dubbo is something that we’re very very lucky to have.
“I’ve just done my best to run with it and take up as many opportunities as I can.
“And for it to result in something like this, having the premiere of my play here in Dubbo is really exciting for me.”
For Happy as Gary show information and tickets, visit www.happyasgary.org