Warren Fahey Presents Yesterday’s Australia

Stars of Australian Stage & Radio
Volume 1

There was a time in Australia when the Music Hall ruled supreme. These ‘people’s palaces’ were to be found in all major Australian cities and they all boasted their litany of stars. Every Saturday night saw lines snaking their way to these doors as the Music Hall ‘stars’ opened to entertain the working class with monologues, parables, singalong songs and mountains of comedy. The audience booed and cheered at the right spots, and well too did they know them because the Music Hall lured them back, week after week. It is fascinating to learn that some of the world’s greatest stars were in fact Australian. Florrie Forde, recognised as the world’s greatest chorus singer, hailed from Victoria as did Albert Whelan and half of Flotsam and Jetsam. Whilst the favourite songs appeared time and time again there was also a lot of new local material injected into the Music Hall programming.

The Tivoli Songsters also show that the artists were not afraid to add some political comment and most of the leaders of the day ended up being lampooned in song.

Hand in hand with the death of Music Hall came the growing strength of radio as the ‘people’s entertainment’. It also was cheap and, best of all, you could actually sing along and laugh along with your favourite Music Hall stars as they defected, one by one, to the wireless auditorium. Eventually the Music Halls shut their doors for good, for radio had won the day.

In these two volumes we have pleasure in bringing both the Music Hall and the radio together as we feature the artists who see-sawed back and forth. One also needs to remember that early radio was definitely live radio and the best of our radio variety was recorded and broadcast live from a studio auditorium

Warren Fahey

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