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As the 21st century dawned, Ned Kelly was once again propelled onto the world stage thanks to hundreds of Sidney Nolan-inspired Kelly’s prancing around in the opening ceremony at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. This starkly contrasted with the last time Australia hosted the Olympics in 1956. Back then, Douglas Stewart’s play Ned Kelly was supposed to be included in the Melbourne Olympics list of events, but it was removed due to concerns over projecting the wrong image to the world.

The Electric Music Show Ned Kelly

The life and times of Australia’s most infamous bushranger and his gang set to a rollicking score, a mixture of rock, broadway and vaudeville. ‘Gonna Rob a Bank, Gonna Be A Rich Man One Day, Gonna Rob A Bank. Living it the Easy Way.’ This has both great humour and great tragedy. The Electric Music Show Ned Kelly was staged in 1977/1978 in Adelaide and Sydney with words and lyrics by Reg Livermore and music by Patrick Flynn.

The opening chorus is at Spencer Street station on June 27 1880 with Police and Aboriginal trackers leaving to track down the Kelly Gang. ‘In the Bush. Give a Push. If we have to we will do it. Spill their Blood in the mud.’ Police arrive at the Kelly farm at Eleven Mile Creek there is a scuffle a Police Officer is wounded so the Kellys head bush singing the song Gang Bang. ‘Altogether bang bang, Ricochet clang rang. Let em all Hang Shining in your eye.’

At Stringybark Creek Police find the Kelly Gang in a shoot out Three Police Officers are shot dead. Police sing, ‘those Irish bandits drowning in the same Irish stew Outlawed from today. ‘The Gang realise, ‘we’re never going home again.’ On February 10 1879 they rob several Banks at Euroa and Jerilderie burning land deeds for poor farmers, ‘Gonna Rob a Bank. Gonna Be a Rich Man Some Day.’

On June 27 1880 the Gang take over the town of Glenrowan and are holding 60 people in the hotel. Police are tipped off. They sing about ‘The Blood of the Irish’, Ned’s mother has the poignant song ‘Die Like a Kelly’. And then there is the final confrontation when Ned’s amour fails to protect him from the bullets of the Victorian Police, ‘I shall not be home again. Well that’s life I say.’

Written, designed and directed: Reg Livermore
Music: Patrick Flynn
Musical direction and arrangements: Michael Carlos
Opening: Adelaide Festival Theatre
Date: 30 December 1977 – 28 January 1978

About: The Electric Music Show Ned Kelly