'Aussie Song' a Touching Love Story; the Musical at ABET Is Based on a Woman's Real-Life Stories

By Mcclaran, Tamara | The Florida Times Union, December 9, 2009 | Go to article overview

'Aussie Song' a Touching Love Story; the Musical at ABET Is Based on a Woman's Real-Life Stories


Mcclaran, Tamara, The Florida Times Union


Byline: TAMARA McCLARAN

A new family musical inspired by a Jacksonville woman's true life stories and memories premiered Friday at the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre. "Aussie Song" is an entertaining production with beautiful music and an interesting and touching family love story.

Jacksonville music teacher and composer Frances Rae Key wrote "Aussie Song" about her mother, Teddy Trager, who is known to many as Gloria "Teddy" Key. Both women attended opening night along with numerous other Trager/Key family members and friends. It was easy to see their delight as the story unfolded on stage; the musical was also enthusiastically received by everyone else in the audience.

Frances Rae Key did an impressive job capturing her family's experiences and conveying their joys and heartaches into a compelling story with wonderful music. Equally impressive is Caryl Butterley's sensitive and thoughtful direction to make "Aussie Song" an entertaining stage show. Both women demonstrated great vision to bring this story and show to life.

The musical begins in the present but soon takes the audience to 1935 Castle Hill, Australia. Young Teddy and her sister Merle are loved and adored by Frank and Ann Trager. They lived a happy life but frequently moved from town to town for reasons that aren't revealed until later in the show. Young Teddy was a spunky child who immigrated to America as a young adult war bride. As a military family, Teddy and her husband eventually settled in Jacksonville, where she opened the city's first day care center.

Although "Aussie Song" is a big show with 20 musical numbers and a 20-member cast, it works on ABET's intimate stage. The talented cast did an excellent job executing Australian accents. The leads include Stacy Williams, whose portrayal of Teddy Trager reveals a charming, independent woman who was years ahead of her time. Bill White uncovers father Frank Trager's happy-go-lucky persona and Staci Cobb demonstrates warmth and heart as Teddy's mother, Ann Trager. …

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