ANDREW O’KEEFE: ALWAYS UP FOR MISCHIEF
He's known for his stints on Weekend Sunrise, The Chase Australia and Deal or No Deal but it turns out Andrew O'Keefe can also hold a tune.
The Mosman-based, self-confessed "wandering minstrel" is treading the boards in Gilbert & Sullivan Forever at the Glen Street Theatre on March 22, and says he can't wait to get on stage and belt out the classics.
"I like TV in the sense that it pays the school fees. But for a performer, I don't think anyone can go past live theatre.
The narcissist in all of us enjoys that immediate feedback," Andrew reflects.
"We've taken a song, maybe two, from every single G&S opera and turned them into hopefully what are not tasteless medleys that don't entirely tear the lustre off Gilbert and Sullivan's reputation!"
The romp is described as 'a terrific, hour-and-a-half celebration of the famous duo's musical masterpieces, sparkling lyrics, wickedly satiric plots and laughter-filled innocent merriment'. Andrew previewed it at the Mosman Art Gallery late last year.
"The show is terrific," the former lawyer adds. "It's about the ridiculousness of everyday life, and lampooning the upper echelon of society. And you get the benefit of all that wonderful G&S music locked in with what some might think is the benefit of my company for a couple of hours ...
"If you're not a massive fan of me, well, there's real talent on the keyboards by the name of Glenn Amer. They describe him as 'having the voice of Mario Lanza with the fingers of Liberace' ... which makes up for the fact that I have the voice of Liberace and the fingers of Mario Lanza!"
Andrew was enveloped in the GEtS songs from a very early age, often providing backing vocals for his father who always had a ditty on his lips.
"I have distinct memories of Dad driving to the shops with five kids in the car, smoking a cigar, and belting out the Captain of the Pinafore. He was, of course, the lead role, and we were the backup," Andrew smiles.
Yet he says his favourite tune is "the quietly sardonic song, Tit-Willow - an absurd song about a bird committing suicide ..." Although he's a consummate professional, Andrew reveals he still messes up, and forgot the chorus to one of the French songs during his last performance, so sang it in Italian instead. "That's the very least of my sins," he grins. "When I was filming Deal or No Deal, one of the crew members asked me to send a cheerio to his grandmother at the end of the show... she had just had her leg amputated.
"So we get to the end of the show and I remember I've got to say hi to Shirley. I said, 'Hi Shirley, I've heard you haven't been well lately, so I hope to see you back on your...' I was about to say back on your feet again, when I remembered the issue of the missing leg. I ended up saying, 'I hope to see you back on your foot again soon'. Fortunately, she had a very good sense of humour!"