By Kath Gannaway
Russell Cheek’s career as a live performer was punctuated in the 90s with a surprising leap to spectacular heights on night-time television.
“Who Am I”, the theatrical encapsulation of a remarkable career written and performed by Cheek himself , and directed by Stephen Abbott (aka The Sandman), will come to The Memo Healesville in a matinee performance on Friday, 7 September, and to Burrinja in Upwey on Saturday night, 8 September.
Having studied theatre at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, Cheek has performed in and directed plays in Australia and overseas, created and directed Circus Oz’s 2003-5 world-touring show and appeared in the films ‘Young Einstein’ and ‘Reckless Kelly’.
That’s just a snapshot of a career that comes to life in 75-minutes of an hilarious, compelling story of the dedication, perseverance and grit that proved invaluable as he put his plan in place to extricate himself from actor-penury as a contestant on the Australian quiz show Sale of the Century.
It was a calculated plan after The Castanet Club.
Cheek was a core member of the Club which enjoyed 10 years national and international acclaim in the ‘80s but which he muses was possibly ahead of its time.
“I always had a really good general knowledge, even when I was a kid, dad taught me to read way before school age, and I always had a thirst for knowledge,” he says of his second quiz show experience.
He’d won a television quiz show when he was in Year 11 and when The Castanet Club wound up, the time was right for a grown-up attempt at quizdom!
“I wanted to buy a place to live and thought if I hit the jackpot at the right time I could maybe do that,” he said
Training himself to be quick on the buzzer, and going in with the theatrical approach of playing in the spirit of the game – taking a few chances and buying from the gift shop when the chance came up, he didn’t hold back.
In the style of Agatha Christie’s famous Mouse Trap, how all that ended up for Cheek is revealed in the show.
He describes “Who Am I”, as a ‘friendly show” which is revealing of himself – the culmination of forces and experiences in his life.
Others describe Cheek as a master narrator and the show as “a dizzying maelstrom of suspense, poignancy and hilarity.”
Another opportunity to enjoy great live theatre in Yarra Ranges.
Book online at http://ach.yarraranges.vic.gov.au by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1300 368 333 .