Queenstown actor takes on Charles Manson

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A Queenstowner can’t wait to play murderous psycho Charles Manson in an upcoming musical. 

“Charles is everything to everybody, he’s a sick man,” Marty Newell (right) says. 

Newell’s notorious character turns up to the People’s Park sit-in in Berkeley, California, in 1969 in local director Margaret O’Hanlon’s production of California Dreaming. 

The show – staged at Arrow­town Hall from October 4-6 – centres on the characters, themes and music of late ’60s California. 

O’Hanlon refers to tumultuous events from 1969 like Manson’s killing spree, Governor Ronald Reagan barring activist Angela Davis from teaching in universities on the grounds she was a communist, anti-Vietnam War student protests and a Hells Angel member killing a man after the Rolling Stones’ Altamont Raceway concert. 

O’Hanlon – who recalls the social unrest while growing up near Harlem, New York – says she’s always been fascinated by how much music is a reflection of the social order of the day 

“The music of this time reflected anger, disillusionment and definitely drugs.” 

Her past two shows – the David Bowie-inspired Rock and Roll Suicide and London Calling – The British Invasion From Beatles To Punk – explored social influences on UK music. 

O’Hanlon says she’s chosen an excellent cast of 16 for California Dreaming. 

Other actors include Charlotte Graf, who plays Gloria Steinem, Pearly McGrath, who takes on Brigitte Bardot, and young Alex Fraser, who plays Hunter S. Thompson. 

The show’s 21 songs come from late 1960s musicians like Jefferson Airplane, The Beach Boys, Janis Joplin, Santana and The Mamas and the Papas. 

Tickets at $40 go on sale next Monday at Queenstown’s i-Site and Arrowtown’s Lakes District Museum. 

There’s a discount for those booking both this show and Remarkable Theatre’s The Female of the Species, September 26-29, also at the Arrowtown Hall.