GABBA GABBA HEY! MUSICAL IN PERTH, AUSTRALIA ON AUGUST 17-21,2004.
Copyrightł 2004---> : Simon Collins, David King, William Ferrier and
Tommy Ramone is musical director of a new
Gabba Gabba Hey!
featuring the music of the Ramones. Gabba Gabba Hey! debut was in Perth,
Australia, at the Monkey Bar on August 17-21, 2004. With 18 high energy
Ramones songs and a rather touching love story all performed in 70
minutes, Gabba Gabba Hey! is streetwise yet heartfelt; retro but also new
Tommy Ramone wrote following in late August, 2004:
We just finished a successful showcase run in Perth Australia. It was well
received by both the audience and the critics.
With a book by novelist Michael Herrmann, the show was directed by New
York-based Andy Goldberg with choreography by Strictly Ballroom star Paul
Mercurio. I was very happy to be involved as the musical director. With a
cast of seven and a band of three (lead by former Clash guitarist Nick
Sheppard) the production is both faithful to the spirit of the Ramones as
well as a groundbreaking rock-theater hybrid.
Here's 2 reviews.OBS!, Any historical or factual mistakes belong to the
journalists who wrote them.
Gabba Gabba Hey! at the Monkey Bar in
Australia on August 18, 2004.
Review in The West Australian Newspaper.
Review: Simon Collins
The spate of musicals strung along the back catalogue of bands like ABBA
(Mamma Mia!) and Queen (We Will Rock You) begs the question: Why make up a
story when the truth is so vibrant, so sordid, so fascinating? I guess
it's because it's also litigious.
Seventies punk icons The Ramones would be a perfect cast of
characters on which to base a narrative. You've got Joey, the compulsive
loner, who strangely shines out front of the punk band. There's Johnny, a
perpetually angry control freak, who famously steals (and eventually
marries) his lead singer's girlfriend. Tommy's the solid beat. The ideas
man, the studio hound, who shifts aside to allow a rotating cast of
drummers to fill the Ramones drum stool.
Last, but not least, there's Dee Dee, the drug-fuelled
miscreant who may or may not have turned tricks on New York's mean
They were literally street punks who found salvation in
All this was recently highlighted in the excellent documentary, End of
the Century, but it would still make brilliant fodder for a stage
Local Gabba Gabba Hey! writer and producer Michael Herrmann filters some
of fact into his fictional tale set on New York's
lower east side circa 1980. Dougie (Will Ferrier) is a pot-smoking,
wannabe rock star. Expelled from school and dumped by his girlfriend,
Sheena (Julie Yammanee), he escapes an abusive home and ends up on the
street, selling his body.
He finds salvation in rock'n'roll, with a little help from
his guardian angel, glam-rock legend Johnny Thunders, of the New York
Dolls. The end.
But, never mind that bollocks - Gabba Gabba Hey! is
enormous fun thanks to the great Ramones tunes (with a New York Dolls and
Motorhead song thrown in for good measure), bawdy humour and the unique
On Wednesday night, a buzzing Monkey Bar filled with a mix
of theatre types and local rockers not sure what to expect. The art
scensters enjoyed the novelty of seeing a production in a pub - it's like
never having to leave the lobby bar.
The energized six-person cast played a number of roles
each, especially experienced performers Lynda Nutter and Mark McAullary,
who superbly camp and their way through half a dozen characters each.
It was hard to believe Ferrier is a virtual novice. His
strong singing and passion carry the production.
Yammanee and Australian Idol contestant Cle Wootton as
punk chicks Sheena and Judy, respectively, are wild. When they combine
with Nutter for three-girl harmonies, you imagine Joey - who was a massive
fan of 60s girl groups - nodding with approval.
The action takes place in front of a simple graffitied
red screen, with the actors shifting the minimal props on and offstage.
The changes happen as sharply as the Ramones would finish one blazing song
and start the next.
The real stars of Gabba Gabba Hey! Work behind that screen.
Bandleader Nick Sheppard - guitar (The Cortinas, The Clash), Dave Kavanagh
(bass) and Ant Milne (drums) belt out bang-on versions of the Ramones
songs; form opener Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio? To the finale,
Blitzkrieg Bop. They get their moment of glory with the speed metal of
R.A.M.O.N.E.S originally by Motorhead.
The trio's only mistake was to not count each song in with a
manic "1,2,3,4!" a la Dee Dee.
Gabba Gabba Hey! opens a bit like a rock eisteddfod but
quickly revs up into a head-banging feast of punk rock littered with pop
culture references, Ramones in-jokes and rude humour. It's very playful
and it's impossible not to sing along and shout the odd "Hey, ho! Let's
There are a couple of dark moments - the domestic violence
dance-along to Mama's Boy and the "rent boy" scene to 53rd and 3rd -
which set this aside from saccharine rock musicals.
If you love punk and have a sense of humour, you'll dig
Herrmann's monster. If you love punk and don't have a sense of humour,
you'll leave muttering something about it desecrating the true spirit of
punk - the exact attitude the late 70s movement sought to eradicate.
The five-date run of Gabba Gabba Hey! is fundamentally a
hook in the water, hoping to get a nibble form a big fish over east or
overseas (specifically New York). There's a good chance this unique
hour-long Ramones-fest will bob up elsewhere.
Gabba Gabba Hey! is fast, loud and fun. Just like a Ramones
Gabba Gabba Hey! at the Monkey Bar in
Perth, Australia on August, 2004.
Review in The Australian Newspaper.
Review: David King
There's something dark lurking beneath the surface of the new Ramones
musical, Gabba Gabba Hey! Fast, camp and energetic on the exterior, the
production has an undercurrent of grit that's hard to miss.
Check out the list of misfortunes that befall the lead
character, Dougie, played by stage debutant William Ferrier, in the course
of one evening. It's a case of teen angst that only New York City in 1980
could provide. Expelled from school with his beloved guitar smashed to
pieces, the would-be rocker is dumped by his girlfriend Sheena in favour
of the star quarterback.
At home he's beaten by his stepfather and let down by his
mother. Late, in a bar, he's drugged and robbed. In desperate need of
money for smack, Dougie is reduced to performing oral sex on a punter on
53rd & 3rd street, where he's beaten senseless with baseball bats by
If that isn't enough, he finds out his idol John Lennon has
died. It's a lot of grief for one-hour show but Gabba Gabba Hey! moves at
a relentless pace.
Half gig, half musical theatre, a three-piece band rips through 17 Ramones
covers and one New York Dolls number (Personality Crisis) in 62 minutes
(each show differed in time, but all under 70 minutes)
Original band member Tommy Ramone made his first visit to Australia to
oversee the musical direction of the show, which features the hits
Blitzkrieg Bop, 53rd and 3rd and Sheena is a Punk Rocker.
Loud and raucous, Gabba Gabba Hey! is filled with pithy
one-liners that parody a traditional boy-meets-girl-storyline.
Ferrier makes a bold stage debut. The 19-year-old had
never performed professionally before, and came with his brother to the
audition because he was crazy about the Ramones.
Co-stars Julie Yammanee, as Sheena, 2003 Australian Idol
finalist Cle Wotton (Sheena's friend, Judy) keep up the pace, with dancing
choreographed by Strictly Ballroom's Paul Mercurio.