From Goulburn’s ‘Dirty Reds’ Rugby Union Club to the Rocky Hill Musical Theatre Company, Chris Gordon doesn’t stand back from injecting his considerable aptitude into the mix. Yet when he was awarded the Lilac City Festival Achiever of the Year recently, ‘Gordo’ as he’s known, was typically humbled.
It’s this blend of talent and community facilitation that’s put Chris on the front foot when it comes to projects that benefit the Goulburn region. He was behind the push to get the successful ‘Spyfest’ up and running – a festival that brought former ‘born and bred’ local and James Bond actor George Lazenby, back to town.
At ‘Spyfest’ Lazenby told the media that growing up in Goulburn had made him tough enough to take on anything. The festival generated national publicity for the town and gave it something different to enjoy. Chris has put this same energy into his role on the Goulburn Performing Arts Centre (PAC) working group.
“We don’t have a venue that can do what the PAC could do. Goulburn is a major regional town on the highways between Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide and if someone is touring a show, with the PAC we can say ‘we’re open’ and it’s only an extra stop for those productions,” he said.
“The PAC can host everything from touring comedians, school productions, the Goulburn Eisteddfod, musical theatre… It will lead to a renewal for performing arts in the Goulburn region.
“Our clubs have been doing a great job of hosting these types of shows and fans have grown to a point where we have an internal audience built.
“We have a generation of people that have grown up watching satellite and online television and interactivity is fading. The performing arts are emotive and confronting and offer the kind of interactivity that says, ‘I’m here on one of the best days of these performer’s lives and they are using their talents to entertain me’, and there’s a rejoicing aspect to that.”
Chris is just of the back of his latest project, writing the musical Getting There for the Rocky Hill Musical Theatre Company. It combines his love of music, his reverence for Australian theatre and his verve and knack of getting things done. All this while also working on a new website for the Dirty Reds, and holding down a fulltime job as a journalist in Canberra.
He’s no stranger to community volunteerism and believes in the concept of ‘giving back’.
“My belief is that volunteerism works if everyone does a bit. And I think we have to give back what we’ve been given,” he said.
With Getting There Chris ‘gave back’ considerably. The production takes iconic Australian singer/songwriters Pat and Geoff Drummond’s music and puts it front and centre of a musical theatre script. The narrative links with the songs around themes such as bullying, friendship, love and the hardships of life on the land.
The show’s title takes its sentiment from the colloquial phrase ‘I’m getting there’, meaning that someone is close to achieving something despite overwhelming difficulties.
“It was complex writing to take Pat’s music and weave a storyline that links the songs together. I’m very proud of the script,” he said.
As well as narrative, Chris scripted lyrics for the show. The title song for the musical takes its name from the show. ‘Getting There’ is based on Pat Drummond’s song ‘Who are these people’ and such was the generosity of Australian singer, who visited Goulburn for the show, that he performed it live during his visit.
“‘Getting There’ is more than just going from ‘A to B’, it’s about not being pessimistic and not giving up on yourself,” Chris said.
While the musical’s show in Goulburn is now over, it’s not the end of Chris’ plans to take it further. He’ll be refining the script, shortening it, tightening it up and recording the music. Then he wants to see if it can be toured. Meanwhile, he’s working on other scripts – a Christmas pantomime, and there’s also his straight theatre piece ‘Consequences’.
“I like being a surprise package and I don’t need universal praise.”
Accepting the award earlier this month as Achiever of the Year, was unexpected and humbling.
“I didn’t know I was going to get it. My wife just suggested we go down the street to the Lilac City Festival and when they said my name…I was honoured.”