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Anything goes at OA, even a bitter shock jock who can't act

In October 2008, amid internal rumblings in Opera Australia, Alan Jones invited then-CEO Adrian Collette on to his top-rated 2GB radio show and spent 30 minutes eviscerating him for artistic decisions and wasting taxpayer money. “You’ve abandoned some of the greatest artists,” he thundered. “We need to stop the rot and tyranny that’s invaded every corner of this company and wipe it clean,” he spat at one point.

So what would Alan make of this: next year the company is presenting a Cole Porter musical with no operatic parts, and for one role has passed over numerous experienced performers to employ a multimillionaire bigoted radio shock jock who can’t sing or act.

The rot and tyranny, indeed.

Jones will play the role of the captain on the good ship Anything Goes, a mercifully small part in Opera Australia’s new national tour with a Broadway bent. At Monday’s announcement, Jones took his place among a heavyweight cast of theatre veterans including Caroline O’Connor and Todd McKenney.

“There was only one man I really wanted to play this role,” said impresario John Frost, who is co-producing the run with Australia’s most heavily subsidised arts company. “I thought this guy will be absolutely perfect.”

OA artistic director Lyndon Terracini — who in June came under fire for employing vile homophobe soprano Tamar Iveri before she finally fled the country — said Jones had an “incredibly wicked sense of humour”. Which will be little help to the 73-year-old in the show’s demanding tap routines.


That Jones has no discernible performing chops — the bitter and twisted vaudeville of his breakfast radio show aside — is the least offensive aspect to the decision. Stunt casting has a storied history of putting bums on seats.

But why this man?

Why a zealot who divides communities, who berates and bullies anyone who dares to disagree, who twists powerful arms in private and rallies his disciples in public to achieve personal crusades? A man who famously inspired racial violence on the beaches, who regularly employs misogyny against leaders, who even exploited the death of a prime minister’s father? A vigorous critic of art he doesn’t like, of grants he thinks are undeserving, of performing institutions that abandon artistic rigour?

You can agree with Jones’ political views — much of Opera Australia’s brittle-boned subscriber set no doubt do. But how does casting such a deeply divisive figure make any business sense, let alone artistic? How does Jones’ presence expand the reach of the company, as Terracini’s long-time management mantra demands?

Frost last employed Jones as the wheelchair-bound United States Democratic president Franklin D. Roosevelt in Annie, his plodding musical theatre debut. Frost can use his considerable fortune and commercial enterprise any way he likes.

But for a national opera company, with its large government purse, to deny professional performers a role in favour of contracting a bilious uber-rich theatre hobbyist?

Well, even Alan would rage against that.

*UPDATE: It was confirmed on Monday July 20 that Alan Jones will not appear as The Captain in the Sydney season of Anything Goes. Jones has withdrawn from the role “due to his increased radio and television commitments” and Gerry Connelly, who played The Captain in Melbourne and Brisbane, will continue with the role.

38 responses to “Anything goes at OA, even a bitter shock jock who can't act

  1. What about the other 6 incredibly talented, well deserving principal artists in this show as well as the creative team and crew? For the sake of one, do they also deserve to be boycotted? Is that entirely fair? By basing your decisions on the casting of only one announced cast member you are all adding to the hype that this person is the only draw card. I’d suggest you all go to the OA website and click on their bios and get behind some true Aussie talent rather than drag their names down with your one sided opinions. Do you feel the same about reality tv contestants being given jobs over the artists who slug it out day after day without mass tv brainwashing publicity? Love it/them or hate it/them, ultimately this kind of hatred does nothing for the arts. Caroline O’Connor is a testament to how it’s done. I for one will be front row.

  2. I think that Jones would do very well as the windbag Wizard of Oz,particularly post-exposure (whisk away the curtain, Alan)

    1. Everyone knows of Pauline Hanson but never heard of you;uncalled for comment-she had no education nor chance like you and look were it got you! Is this the best you can do?

  3. At least in Annie there was the faint hope his wheelchair brakes would fail and he’d roll into the pit! I’m not a great opera fan but for this bigot to be given a role over any OA performer is ludicrous.

  4. A very sad stunt by OA. Why oh why give this obnoxious bully any more air time than he already has? But more concerning was the whole audition process that locked-out the extremely talented performers of OA and gave them the chance to shine in a fun production… Wrong at all levels, shame shame OA…. Will not be buying a ticket

  5. I am definitely not going to buy tickets now that such a horrible person has been given a role. I wish I had not subscribed to the rest of the season because I am disgusted with Opera Australia for doing this.

  6. I totally agree. I think John Frost is only using Opera Australia to ensure a product he is concerned won’t sell will have a subscriber base to get it over the line. There is no reason this show should be in the opera season at all. And to put
    Mr Jones in it is a disgrace, it says a lot about John Frost if the only person he can think of for the role is Alan Jones. Opera Australia get away before you get more flack you might get some quick money but it will not work for the long term. Anyway our major Opera company should not be in bed show after show propping Frost up.
    Shame Opera Australia you should have known better.

  7. Goodness Nina – people detest Jonsy (sic) because of the offensive comments he makes every day about anyone he doesn’t like. It’s not because we’re jelous (sic) or that we do nothing for our comunity (sic). And how are we supposed to do dough? Do you mean make dough? It’s too late for you, clearly – but I am happy that my taxes are paying to give younger generations a decent education including literacy skills.

    1. Goodness to you to- do you believe that cast would not have protested by now if he was soooo detested? Surely.And I admint you have every right to detest anyone you like, but I am lucky to have ability and accord someone who is good to community and succesful.Why do you think he is numero uno?By the way I am “old” professional woman, still working and my brain is still functioning!!So is my heart and humility which forbids me hating my fellow countryman..Have a wonderfu weekend the lot of you!

    2. Oh dear, it makes me very sad that this lady(?) has no idea what she is talking about. I am an ex employee of OA and been through many highs and lows of the company.

  8. The only talent this non-personality, is for bigotry. I was so looking forward to seeing this revival but now I am going to miss out seeing the ultra-talented Caroline O’Connor and her fellow actors, because the whole experience has been tainted.

  9. What nasty jelous comments! So you dont like Alan Jones; I like him very much, so what right do you have to judge?O, Caro, your nastiness stinks to haven! We like the man. Are you sort of people that tut the horn if oldies are slow on crossing !! I bet.
    Love you Jonsy; wonder how much dough you politically correct wizards do for comunity? Go Jones.

    1. Nina, I think that the peeps that you rail against share your distaste for nastiness. Jones is the maestro of nastiness.

      1. Actually Steve, according to you, I am nasty: would you like to know how much I collected “through my nastiness” for cancer this year alone? Lets compare figures or just shut up and crowl into your cave without comenting about people you dont know.

    2. I am inclined to go and see the show and take friends with me who will join with me every time Alan Jones is on stage stand up, turn our backs, boo or interject.

  10. I’ll bet its a sell out, the casting people know the looney left have left the stage, now we may see plays without swearing and unnecessary sexual innuendoes, more real life, I can’t wait. Good on them

  11. When I saw Annie with family and friends we were mortified to see alan Jones in the cast, I cannot in all honesty because of what this man represents go and see Anything Goes as much as I enjoy Cole Porter’s music.
    The comment that all the comments are good advertising for the show are probably true.

    1. And what is the taxpayer doing subsidizing John Frost’s business? Especially when he likes to employ bigoted non-actors?

      I agree that this production should be boycotted.

  12. It was either this or Treasure Island – Cap’n Flint?
    ……. Don’t get between Gloria and a bucket of self-interest – ask Qantas.

  13. While agreeing with comments on the unsuitability of Alan Jones for this role, I love Cole Porter’s music in general and Anything Goes in particular, so much, that I cannot bring myself to boycott the show. I last saw it at the State Theatre in Sydney in 1989 — a long wait between drinks!

  14. It is nothing more than a clever marketing tool by Frost. He is now guaranteed daily publicity for his show on Jones’ radio show.

  15. I agree with everything Jason has written, but it’s unfortunate that he assumes that the ‘brittle boned subscriber set’ have the same politics as Alan Jones. Age doesn’t necessarily correlate with horrible politics, Jason, and as a 64 year old I feel somewhat offended by your unproven assumption.

    1. “brittle-boned subscriber set” – are they the ones like us who listened to one program when he first went on air and that was enough?

    2. THANK YOU! I am fed up with commentators acting as if all older people support the likes of Alan Jones and his views. I’ve noticed these ageist and disparaging remarks a few times in the Daily Review especially in relation to those who frequent theOpera House. I probably have been a feminist longer than most reviewers have been alive…. These views are infuriating, imagine if they were addressed towards another section of the community….hmmm…unlikey. We’re old and we’ve got the time and money to go the Opera House, it doesn’t mean we’re political morons

    1. Dear Ivan
      You don’t have long to wait before you can see a WHOLE PLAY about Rupert called “Rupert” at the STC in November. Already dragged its toe in Melbourne.
      Maybe David Williamson is hard at work on a new piece called”Alan” about Alan?
      Just sad for all the hard working lovely actors/singers/dancers/ who either have to make way for these interlopers or worse still work with them.

  16. I couldn’t agree more, Jason. I’m so upset. Anything Goes is my all-time favourite musical. I now have to boycott this production because I’d feel so uncomfortable seeing Alan Jones on stage. It’s outrageous that Opera Australia would support his involvement.
    I’ve always known Jones as a hypocrite and bully, but his misogyny is overwhelming, not to mention his lack of talent as singer and/or dancer! How could Opera Australia go along with this?
    Do you know of a movement to boycott the show, or get rid of Jones from the cast?
    In other words, what can I do ?? Thanks.

    1. Become succesful as”hypocrite and bully”, make a name for yourself and that would be a good start.I love high achievers, dont like likes of mean people………..


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