Justine Clarke, the Play School presenter and amazingly talented, award-winning children’s entertainer is embarking on a national tour in November-December and sat down for a little tea party with Glam Adelaide to talk about the tour and what it takes to entertain children.
Born to showbiz parents and starting out at a young age herself, Clarke seemed destined for a life on the stage and has traversed most mediums of performing arts as an actor and singer in both theatre and television. She’s also released several books, DVDs, an ARIA Award winning CD, and in between all that she somehow still finds time to be a mum of three! Talk about having a finger in a bunch of mud pies!
“It took me a while to get used to it (being involved with multiple things) but it’s how I like to be, and it’s OK. I enjoy a challenge and also enjoy change, it’s the only thing we can be sure of really,”she says of her busy schedule.
One of the changes we’ve publicly seen Clarke go through is her transition from appearing as a child along Mel Gibson in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome to the talented entertainer she has now become. She still has fond memories of this period in her early career and fondly recalls working alongside Gibson. “I’m surprised at how much I recall given that I was only 12, it had a huge impression on me because it was a huge scale production even by today’s standards. No one had seen the likes of that before. The stunt department for example was massive, and it was like a large family of people that worked on all the Mad Max films. It was a lovely part of the film industry to be in at the time,” says Clarke. “The more I look back on it the more unique and special I realize it is”.
With subsequent roles in TV shows including A Country Practice, Home And Away and All Saints in addition to frequent film roles with names such as Heath Ledger and Toni Collette, Clarke’s path has been anything but predictable and her crossover into children’s entertainment came unexpectedly.
“ Like anything I usually do, I’m attracted to the material and obviously the people behind it. With kid’s entertainment, it came out of a recording project and I loved those songs that we were doing. I was keen on producing and wanted to work with Peter Dasent who’s not only the Play School pianist but is also a beautiful arranger and composer. He had all these terrific songs that I wanted to get out into the world, so essentially it came out of a love for the songs rather than a specific desire to be a children’s entertainer.” Clarke said she performed these songs at small venues and in no time, she’d gained a legion of fans so it was a natural progression to keep at it. “They (kids) were gorgeous, so happy and full of energy, and just waiting for song after song. I really enjoyed the vibrance and of course that we could do the shows in the daytime,” says Clarke.
Children though, can be the harshest of critics and will certainly let you know what’s on their mind. Fortunately, her experience working on Australia’s longest running children’s program ‘Play School’ gave her the tools and experience needed to make her shows a hit with young audiences.
“The kids want to be engaged in the shows and be involved, that’s what they want. They’re there to be a part of it. It’s a wonderful challenge to be able to get them into it (the show). There’s nothing like the energy of a thousand kids waiting to hear their favourite songs.”
The current show, ‘ I Am A….Band’ will feature an array of songs set to a colourful, craft-themed stage which will add to the fun-filled theme that kids will just love. To get an idea of what to expect, take a listen to some of Justine’s songs on her website http://www.justineclarke.com.au/music. They’re fun, educational, and will no doubt have children dancing about to these catchy little tunes.
On what to expect at her concerts, Clarke’s heartfelt response is as much about imparting as it is entertaining. “I love making music, and celebrating that with kids, there’s a lot of firsts for them when coming to a show like this but I also want to make sure those milestone moments are acknowledged so the kids get something from it- and maybe they’ll even make music for themselves one day!”.
Interviewed by Darren Hassan
‘I Am A…Band’ Tour Dates
TICKETS ON SALE NOW! All Ages – Children 12 months and under free on lap.
CROWN THEATRE, PERTH SATURDAY NOVEMBER 22 show time at 10am
HER MAJESTY’S THEATRE, ADELAIDE SATURDAY NOVEMBER 29 show time at 10am & 12.30pm
MELBOURNE RECITAL HALL, MELBOURNE SUNDAY DECEMBER 7 show time at 10am, 12pm, 2pm & 4pm
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, CONCERT HALL SATURDAY DECEMBER 13 show time at 10am & 12.30pm
CANBERRA THEATRE, CANBERRA SUNDAY DECEMBER 14 show