All generations need a greater acceptance that so many mature age people are dynamite.
Maureen Andrew has two overlapping resumes. There is her 14-page ‘performance’ resume with a comprehensive list of credits as a singer, dancer, actor and model, and her ‘business’ resume, that details her experience working for major legal and accounting firms, including KPMG Hungerfords.
‘I’d work nine to five, teach aerobics in my lunch hour, after work teach dance at schools and then, in the evening, go and sing. As a single mum with two kids, it was frantic, but it was survival,’ Maureen says.
Her first big break came at the age of 20, when she was cast as a dancer in the stunning anti-war rock musical Hair. Hundreds of other gigs, big and small, followed. She toured with 20-plus major musicals, including Hugh Jackman’s ‘Boy From Oz’ and Elton John’s ‘Billy Elliot The Musical’, and had numerous acting roles in Neighbours and other TV productions.
Her incredible energy has not dulled over the years. Instead of bemoaning the lack of opportunities for older performers, Maureen harnesses her dancing, singing and comic skills to write and perform tribute shows based on strong females, from Marlene Dietrich to Shirley Bassey.
‘There's a certain freedom that comes with doing your own show, where you can stop in the middle of the joke or in the middle of the song to wave to someone or ask their name. If someone's handling his missus next to him, I say, “Put that woman down”, or give myself permission to be more spontaneous, and allow people laugh at themselves.
‘Twenty-odd years ago, I used to sing on the Able Tasman. On a hundred or so journeys back and forth to Tassie, I learnt so much from those audiences — bikies, horse traders, travellers, mainlanders, such a mix. If they heckled me, I’d just go sit on their lap to take the mickey out of them or, if they used their phone, I’d join in the chat in a gentle and fun way.’
Maureen says she’ll continue to perform while she still gets a buzz from being on stage, and she loves the opportunity the Victorian Seniors Festival provides to showcase the talent of older performers.
‘All generations need a greater acceptance that so many mature age people are dynamite.’
Watch Maureen's 2020 Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined performance