Composer 2019 Wade Gregory

PROGRAM NOTES: Gladstone Hotel

A medley of songs from “Dookie: The Musical”

In April 2018, Shepparton Theatre Arts Group and the Goulburn Valley Concert Orchestra collaborated for the world premiere of “Dookie: The Musical”, an original work of musical theatre. With a book by John Head, music by Wade Gregory, and lyrics by Wade and Helen Rankin, the musical built upon the success of John’s 2016 play “Dookie”. Featuring a cast of 16, a 30-piece orchestra on stage to supplement the 8-piece pit orchestra, and local crew and creatives, it was a show that celebrated the strength of community, selling out its season.

Set in 2007, soldier Dean Turner returns from Afghanistan to his small hometown of Dookie with his wounded and PTSD suffering comrade. Dean hopes Dookie will be a good place for his mate’s recovery. In the meantime the local community have entered an orchestral competition hoping to win enough money to build a memorial to commemorate their WW1 fallen in time for the 100th anniversary of ANZAC Day. Just one problem… They don’t have an orchestra!

This medley, named after the pub in Dookie, has been arranged for Grainger Wind Symphony and features four numbers from Dookie: The Musical. After a short excerpt from Prologue, it quickly moves into Coming Home: a song that explores Dean’s trepidation about returning to his hometown after 10 years of service.

This is followed by Willie’s Lament, sung by Dean’s friend Steve “Willie” Williams. Although Willie appears to be a jocular larrikin throughout the first act, this belies deeper issues which are only revealed near the start of the second act as he sings this ode at the Cashel Cemetery.

The final number Remember was first performed during the play in 2016. It is the grand finale performed by the fictional “Dookie Symphony Orchestra” at the end of the musical, and is a tribute to the 16 men from the Dookie area who died in World War One.

BIOGRAPHY: Wade Gregory

Somewhat of a chameleon composer, Wade Gregory is comfortable and active in multiple genres. A specialist in jazz and world music, he has composed and arranged for 18-piece jazz orchestras, 10-piece ensemble West End Composer’s Collective, and recently re-imagined 16 James Bond songs for a local jazz cabaret show. His pieces have been played by Brazilian bands Coisa Linda and Brisbane Choro Ensemble; he travelled to Jiayuguan China to hear a brass quintet composition played by Best of Brass, and has even composed for the unusual combination of jazz piano, guitar, erhu and guzheng.

Since moving to Shepparton five years ago, Wade has started working in orchestral and theatrical settings. Recent work include compositions for Goulburn Valley Concert Orchestra, assorted chamber works, and re-orchestrating over 20 musical theatre numbers for Shepparton Theatre Arts Group’s (STAG) 40th anniversary concert. In 2016 he composed music for STAG’s world premiere of John Head’s new play “Dookie”, including several pieces for orchestra and string quartet. The last two years have been consumed with writing, editing, and orchestrating “Dookie: The Musical. In 2018 Wade won the Matt Withers Composition Competition, and his work Water Music was premiered and recorded by guitarist Matt Withers with the Acacia Quartet.