Schoolteacher, musician, writer, composer, businessman, self-confessed “Char Char Yiros fanatic” – West Ender Clarry Evans is a man of many and varied talents and interests.
A much-loved teacher at the West End State School for over a decade, Clarry Evans now owns and runs two guesthouses in the suburb (Westmont and Minto). He’s also a guitarist, a pianist and was the lead singer of Brisbane band Midlife Crisis for many years, but his greatest musical passion is composing, particularly rock operas.
He and his writing partner Judy Stevens have a knack for taking the words of Shakespeare and bringing them vibrantly to life with contemporary music. Their list of shows include Macbeth: The Contemporary Rock Opera, Brave New World Order, Live At The Trocadero and The Merchant Of Vengeance. “Between us we make one complete composer,” says Clarry, “Neither of us has got all the talents to make one composer, so the things I can’t do Judy can, and vice versa.”
For the most part the shows have been staged in Brisbane, at QPAC, La Boite and the Powerhouse, and have been hugely successful. “We hold a QPAC record for a two-week season at Cremorne. Five thousand people came to 18 performances in two weeks. Not bad for a 300-seat capacity theatre,” says Clarry. “The only time we went to Melbourne we got reviews that people would die for … we took Macbeth to Melbourne and the Melbourne Age said, ‘Judy Stevens and Clarry Evans write a much more interesting recitative than Lloyd Webber seems to manage…’ That was our Age review! We’d never travelled before and they said, ‘These people must come back.’ We never did,” he says laughing, “But we are thinking of going down at the end of the year with this one.”
The show he’s talking about is his latest production, Boadicea: The Celtic Rock Opera, which will hit the La Boite stage in May. It tells the historical tale of Celtic warrior woman Boadicea who fought the Romans in ancient Britain. “It’s a fascinating story and it’s virtually untouched, even in this day and age where everything interesting’s been done,” says Clarry, “The Celts are interesting with their long hair and flowing clothes and their ceremonies and magic … Boadicea is a fantastic female character … it is I suppose a feminist thing, but at the same time it’s not hitting people over the head with it.”
Well-known Brisbane performer Alison St. Ledger will play the lead role. Matt Newnham who previously played the lead in Macbeth and Brave New World Order will also star, while David Bell is set to direct. Clarry says for him, there is no greater thrill than having your own show on. He relishes being in the audience. “You can never get enough of it. I don’t care if it’s the 20th show in the season, I never tire of my own shows … I never tire of the fact that it’s all happening in front of me. I love it.”
Words by Leah Carri | Images by Darlia Argyris