Muhammad Ali, John Lennon, Billy Connolly, Meg Ryan, Dame Edna, and Bing Crosby may be stars on the world stage but one unassuming man upstages them all on Adelaide’s Festival Centre stage – Michael Parkinson.
Sir Michael Parkinson, aka Parky, is definitely the leading light of his one-man show despite the galaxy of superstars that are recalled from his internationally acclaimed television talk show. From the moment his instantly recognisable tv theme tune starts playing to the final curtain this Yorkshire lad enraptures his audience.
It is not just the stories about the rich, famous and infamous. Parky eloquently reveals his own life story from his beginnings in the English pit town of Grimethorpe, through his early days in journalism to his rise to fame with the advent of television.
Of course his talk show is the talk of the night, but it is this craggy-faced man’s charisma that steals the show. Just as he charmed his many guests, so he enchants his audience. Parky is just as gifted at informing as he is at asking for information. He is an exceptional raconteur.
Self-confessed cricket “tragic” Parky starts his one-man show with a humorous anecdote about former English fast bowler Fred Trueman. He then reveals his early days growing up in the pit-town of Grimethorpe, Barnsley.
The stage, like the man, needs little embellishment. It is backed by a huge screen that flawlessly depicts still photos and film clips that paint the picture in between Parky’s stories.
The films are classics – Mick Jagger’s television debut in which the singer reveals The Rolling Stones might last another year or so, Billy Connolly’s rampaging, breathtaking humour, Muhammad Ali’s early and more humble days and a montage of VIPs.
Interspersed with his stories, Parky ventures into singing – live on stage in a tribute to Dudley Moore and on film in a duet with Bing Crosby.
Such is the power of television that Sir Michael Parkinson seems like a long-lost friend rather than a television star himself. Such also is the power of the man’s charm. This is the self-same charm that disarmed many a famous person into revealing intimate snippets about themselves or their loved ones. Very few did themselves any harm in these revelations. In fact it was quite the opposite. The famous guests are viewed, much like Parky himself, with affection for their human foibles. Who could resist the usually remote Victoria Beckham as she giggles like a girl and lets slip her nickname for her famous husband – “Golden Balls”?
The second half of Parky’s show moves closer to home with the cringe-worthy cultural attaché to the Court of St James, Sir Les Patterson. Again Parky is quick to defend all that is good in his interviewees, extolling the virtues of Barry Humphries’ brilliant satirical wit despite groans from the audience.
Fortunately the megastar from Moonee Ponds, Dame Edna, is not far from the screen and lifts the mood, revealing Humphries' more socially acceptable satire. A somewhat heated interview with Sir James Packer is quick to follow, once again revealing an integral part of Parky's character - his passion for cricket.
This is a walk down memory lane for Parky himself, but it is also a testament to a man and his self-deprecating style of humour that disarmed his guests and continues to beguile his audience.
Parky The One-Man Show
Venue: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide
Dates/Times: Sunday 22 November 8pm, Monday 23 November 8pm
Bookings: BASS 131 246 | www.bass.net.au