Melbourne is bursting with musicals, but Georgy Girl is a new Australian production, charting the rise of The Seekers. Fronted by sometime jazz singer Judith Durham, the harmonising folkies accidentally emerged as Australia's first international pop group in the '60s after boarding a cruise ship as entertainers — their destination 'Swinging London'. Dusty Springfield's brother Tom wrote The Seekers' breakthrough, I'll Never Find Another You. The quartet's major US hit, the theme to the movie Georgy Girl, was nominated for an Academy Award although they haplessly missed the ceremony. The Seekers were the antithesis of decadent rock'n'roll, their genre twee-sy listening. Alas, today they don't enjoy The Beatles' cross-generational appeal.
The Seekers' story is worthy, but there's little drama or discord to exploit — Durham's 1968 departure was relatively civil. As such, Georgy Girl relies on its performances and light comedy. Pippa Grandison impresses as the wholesome Durham, her voice pure gold. Georgy Girl reveals Durham's humility — she made her own clothes — and, disturbingly, latent body dysmorphia.
Oddly, Durham's late husband Ron Edgeworth (Adam Murphy) serves as Georgy Girl's admittedly charming narrator — notably his brother Patrick is the scriptwriter (past credits include BMX Bandits!), adapting Durham's sanctioned bio. The 'facts' do interfere: midway, Georgy Girl loses focus, becoming less narrative than quasi-documentary, the expository finally too overwhelming.