Monday, May 30, 2011

Five Songs About Margaret

I posted a version of this before. It's a work in progress, a musical based on the life of Margaret Fulton, written by composer Yuri Worontschak and yours truly. We started eight years ago and got some interest from The Melbourne Theatre Company. They gave us some money to record the songs and write a first draft. The show is currently in limbo, though it's gratifying that Margaret is finding a new legion of fans with her work on shows like Masterchef. And she's been wonderfully patient about the whole project. Here are some of the songs, with appropriate scene-setters.

The Things That You Can Do. As part of the Leaving Certificate in the forties, Australian girls had to learn to be perfect housewives. This involved such tasks as doily-making and using a flat-iron. Being able to handle a then-defunct household appliance was considered a vital part of an Austalian girl’s education. Margaret hated it and couldn’t wait to get away. (Sung by Mark Trevorrow and Shaun Micallef.)

Jam. In 1955 Margaret Fulton joined advertising firm J Walter Thompson as an account executive. The Menzies-Fadden government had given money to the ailing Queensland sugar industry, with the result that there was an oversupply. Margaret devised a campaign to sell the sugar mountain. It worked, and she became the first corporate women in Australia ever to be given her own line of credit. (Sung by Queenie van DeZandt and Mark Trevorrow.)

The Book. In 1967, Margaret started work on the famous cookbook. She was optimistic that it might sell a few thousand copies. It ended up selling over a million and topping the bestseller lists. At a signing session in Sydney, people queued around the block. Every second home in Australia had a copy of The Margaret Fulton Cookbook. (Sung by Joanne Campbell and Mark Trevorrow.)

Mandrake the Magician. One of Sydney’s first legal eagles was a woman whom Margaret knew socially. A fan of comic book hero Mandrake the Magician, the QC came to a fancy dress party dressed as him. At the party, Margaret first learned that her partner, Denis Doonan, was having an affair with ‘Mandrake’. (Sung by Queenie van DeZandt.)

I Sang For My Supper. Today Margaret is a political activist and remains outspoken on the plight of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children being forcibly removed from their families. She is also an active supporter of Greenpeace. She still lives in Balmain and loves cooking. (Sung by Queenie van DeZandt.)

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