SHOWBIZ STAR: Kara Lane (centre) with the Girls from Oz Pictures: Supplied.
SHOWBIZ STAR: Kara Lane (centre) with the Girls from Oz Pictures: Supplied.

Girl from Oz waits for West End to reopen

Like many of her friends in London's showbiz world, Kara Lane thought at first the coronavirus wasn't going to be the big deal it's turned out to be.

"It's a drastic and unique situation so it takes a bit of time to sink in," she said, from the UK countryside, a long way from her childhood home in Rockhampton.

"The first shock was hearing the theatres were closing, and then reality hit me when I heard of friends who were showing the symptoms.

"Heartbreakingly, other friends have lost their parents to it."

Kara Lane as Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins.
Kara Lane as Mrs Banks in Mary Poppins.

It has been nearly 18 years since Ms Lane successfully auditioned for what she thought would be a five-month gig on a UK-based cruise ship.

She's gone on to star as Dolly Tate in Annie Get Your Gun opposite Jason Donovan, and Mrs Banks in the Cameron McIntosh Disney production of Mary Poppins.

Another highlight was playing Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, a role she took from Kilworth House Theatre in the UK back to the PIlbeam Theatre where her career began.

Ms Lane said her mother, Christine Netherwood, who is a well known singing teacher in Rockhampton, was her greatest inspiration.

"I think I honestly believed she was the Katherine Jenkins of the day," Ms Lane said.

"She introduced me to her love of old movies and musicals; I studied every gesture, joke and musical styling."

Among the other local influences who prepared for the demands of show business, she named Jan Kennedy, Judi Scheuber, Pat McKenna and Nita Whyte.

"You're lucky to get one audition out of every ten your agent puts you up for, and to get one job out of every ten you audition for," she said.

Kara Lane, from Rockhampton, waits for the coronavirus threat to lift so she can go back to life on London’s West End.
Kara Lane, from Rockhampton, waits for the coronavirus threat to lift so she can go back to life on London’s West End.

"You are constantly having to prove yourself and adapt over and over again.

"I remember one week I was travelling the world, attending glamorous parties and staying in gorgeous hotels.

"The next I was nannying from 6am til 6pm, dealing with three very spoiled children telling you, "You can't tell me what to do; you're just the help", as they threw muddy boots at my head."

Nevertheless, seven years ago, Ms Lane decided to begin a side business while she waited on roles she wanted, and the phenomenon which is the Girls From Oz Group was born.

"We take well known Aussie songs - think Kylie, AC/DC, Gotye, Sia etc - and rework them into three-part harmonies," Ms Lane said.

The group, which has grown into nine girls and two difference shows - vintage and cabaret - has played at Australia House, the House of Commons, the Edinburgh Fringe and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Other Place Theatre.

It was when the Girls played Ronnie Scott's world-famous jazz club, Ms Lane got an offer from UK's premier swing band, the Jive Aces, to appear as their guest singer, a gig which has taken her to Spain, Italy, Poland, Greece, Ireland and Morocco.

And it was on the Aces' BigBeat Revue theatre tour, which had been scheduled until May, that the curtain came down as the UK government introduced isolation measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

Kara Lane and the Jive Aces
Kara Lane and the Jive Aces

"I would love to be at home with my family right now," Ms Lane said.

"But the UK is weeks ahead of Australia in terms of the spread, and I have family members who would fall into the high-risk category."

So, like so many others around the world, Ms Lane is counting her blessings where she can.

"I've been able to spend some quality time with my other half who's usually jetting around the world for his job producing the Doctor Who audio dramas," she said.

"I've started a veggie garden and I'm looking at some sound studio equipment so I can produce some music videos for the Girls From Oz at home.

"A lot of people are doing live-streamed performances from their home or teaching online with the option to donate either to them directly or charities which are helping performers get through these tough times.

"Artists are among the first to help raise money in times of trouble via charity or fundraising concerts for example, even though they often live hand-to-mouth.

"Now the whole world is in trouble and creatives are still offering their talents to help keep up morale and are simply asking for a small donation in return."

The Jive Aces managed to get a livestream on their Facebook page the night before all the bars and restaurants closed and it's had nearly 20,000 hits since.


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