Bert on doc­tor’s or­ders

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS -

SHOW­BIZ stal­wart Bert New­ton is in Queens­land for his first foray back to work since his much-pub­li­cised health bat­tle.

New­ton, who re­cently turned 75, un­der­went a life-sav­ing, six-hour quadru­ple heart by­pass op­er­a­tion late last year.

‘‘And there was a fair bit of re­hab to be done, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of words that crept into my vo­cab­u­lary that hadn’t been there be­fore – ex­er­cise and diet,’’ he says.

New­ton paid at­ten­tion and re­cov­ered. Fight­ing fit, he’s now play­ing Vince Fon­taine in a new pro­duc­tion of the stage mu­si­cal Grease, which opened in Bris­bane this week.

New­ton says his de­ci­sion to take the role was based on med­i­cal ad­vice from his fam­ily doc­tor.

‘‘I told him about Grease and what I was do­ing,’’ he says. ‘‘His last piece of ad­vice, and af­ter 30 years he knows me pretty well, was: ‘The best thing for you to do would be to get back to work’.

‘‘The ques­tion I get asked more than any other is that around the ‘R’ word: re­tire­ment. The only time I would con­sider that was if I lost the pas­sion . . . and I haven’t lost the pas­sion.’’

New­ton’s cast­mates in­clude Rob Mills as Danny and new­comer Gre­tel Scar­lett as Sandy, along with Todd McKen­ney, An­thony Cal­lea, Lucy Maun­der and TV vet­eran Val Lehman.

Mills, 31, rose to fame af­ter ap­pear­ing as a con­tes­tant on the first sea­son of Aus­tralian Idol 2003. In re­cent years, he es­tab­lished him­self in mu­si­cal theatre, in Wicked and then Legally Blonde. Grease is a ma­jor gig for the singer and ac­tor. ‘‘There are some re­ally cool con­tem­po­rary pieces and ever since then, I’ve put my­self for­ward,’’ he says. ‘‘Singing and per­form­ing I have al­ways done and I love it.’’

Re­served for only the big­gest of pro­duc­tions, the Grease cast has recorded a live al­bum, bring­ing to life hits in­clud­ing Sum­mer Nights, Hope­lessly De­voted To You and You’re The One That I Want.


Grease plays the Lyric Theatre, at QPAC, in Bris­bane.

Bert New­ton in dur­ing re­hearsals for Grease, which opened its national run in Bris­bane.

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