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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Rolling Thunder Vietnam (Australian tour)

Rolling Thunder Vietnam is a deeply emotional, richly rewarding musical and narrative experience that takes you to the heart of the highly divisive Vietnam War.

Featuring 20 of the most affecting songs of the era, Rolling Thunder Vietnam prizes open the hopes and fears of the young soldiers who went into battle.

It also looks at the impact on their loved ones left behind and the reception the troops received upon their return home.

Photos by Rebecca Blake

Writer Bryce Hallett conducted extensive research, including numerous interviews with veterans and family members, as well as relying upon letters exchanged.

Supported by video footage, few productions I have seen are as poignant as this power-packed show, which cuts to the quick.

The protest songs and potent rock anthems presented have been masterfully packaged into a searing reminder of what went down.

The numbers are those of Steppenwolf, The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Gladys Knight, Billy Thorpe, Paul Simon and many more legendary artists.

Think Magic Carpet Ride, The Real Thing, Fortunate Son, The Letter, Black Magic Woman, Help Me Make it Through the Night, War and Bridge Over Troubled Water.

I attended the final rehearsal for the upcoming Australian tour (15th April to 10th June) and the vocal and musical proclivity involved is stellar.

Tom Oliver plays larrikin country soldier Johnny and Brittanie Shipway his girlfriend, Sarah.

Jerrod Smith is cast as duty-bound American marine Thomas and Christian Charisiou the conscripted Aussie, Andy.

Rounding out the cast are Imogen Moore and Sam Richardson, both of whom appeared in Frozen The Musical.

The five-piece band (drums, keyboards, two guitarists and a bass) under musical director Chong Lim is inspired.

Directed by David Berthold, I can’t recommend Rolling Thunder Vietnam any more highly. It seeps into one's psyche and remains there long after exiting the theatre.

This is “must see” material. Do not miss it.

Between July 1962 and June 1973, more than 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam (the war ended in 1975).

During the battle between the North and South Vietnamese, 523 Australian troops died and more than 3,000 were evacuated, after being injured or falling ill.

US casualties alone numbered 58,220.

More than a million Vietnamese fighters were killed and as many as two million civilians on both sides of the conflict.


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