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Marcia Hines shines in Velvet Rewired

Marcia Hines has a vibe. From the moment you meet the one and only Marcia, you know that she’s true, and you also know she has been blessed. She was blessed with the gift of an award-winning singing voice and was blessed to successfully audition at age 16 for the Australian production of Hair in 1970 in her hometown Boston.

Marcia Hines Velvet Rewired This Magnificent Life
Image: timbond.photography

Over her 50-year career, starting with Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar, Marcia went on to a multi-platinum recording career. Not only was she crowned Queen of Pop three times, but she was also the only original Australian Idol judge to last the entire seven-year season. Now she’s about to lead another nationwide tour of the acclaimed Velvet Rewired.

Velvet Rewired is a reimagining of the sellout Fringe show Velvet. It’s a joyous mix of disco, dance, burlesque, cabaret and acrobatics. Velvet was staged across Australia, at the Edinburgh Fringe and throughout Europe in 2015.

 

Velvet Rewired This Magnificent Life

Velvet Rewired’s defiantly disco soundtrack has both sequin platforms firmly planted in the ’70s. Discos then were where you could be yourself – if only for a while. The show is all about finding one’s self in a place where colour, sexuality, gender, body image and class are not how people are defined.

Velvet Rewired This Magnificent Life

Meeting Marcia recently as she prepared for rehearsals for Velvet Rewired, I felt I already knew her. Hair and Superstar were where she first gained national attention, but the hit singles and countless Countdown appearances got her into Australian lounge rooms.

Disco

From her first moments in Velvet, she said the music always came first. “Around the music, you can create the acts and the essence of the show”, Marcia reminds me. “People ask me about the disco movement – it came about from the Vietnam War. I lost many friends, and I knew many that were conscripted. And then that sadness happened, so disco happened. So now there is a resurgence, and disco is everywhere even many movie soundtracks.”

Hair

“I was the youngest ever to do Hair, and when they asked me if I wanted to sing lead, I said no, I want to sing in the chorus. And when I was busted singing the lead in the theatre’s bathrooms, the rest, as they say, is history”.

Marcia Hines Velvet Rewired This Magnificent Life
Image: timbond.photography

Marcia continues, “I had a crush on John Waters – he was quite a bit older, and I had never really encountered anyone with an English accent before. He was a looker then and still is”.

On the other cast members who became lifelong friends, she remarks, “we still check on each other. I pick up the phone – not Facebook”.

She also had a crush on Reg Livermore, who proved to be a guiding force, “You don’t realise you’re being mentored at the time, but he encouraged me and taught me all about respecting the person who employs you, showing up on time and working hard”. Marcia smiles, “I still turn into a 16-year-old again when I see him”.

Singing and Performing

Marcia says, “Singing it is my primal scream. I know it’s a gift, and I have been blessed. My voice continually surprises me, so I take care of it, no late nights, and I don’t drink. Sleep is my friend”.

She questions everything, “Marcia, you should have breathed. Why did you sing that note? Why did you put the vibrato there?”

Marcia Hines Velvet Rewired This Magnificent Life
Image: timbond.photography

A new record has been produced. I did a bit of recording during Covid and after ‘The Gospel according to Marcia” – I recorded an album of gospel songs with a choir, and we did Sydney Adelaide and Melbourne”.

“You can’t think too far ahead – you have to live one day at a time – you can have an idea about what you will do next. But a plan? That’s Peter Rix – my brother and manager for over forty years. He says there might be a concert tour, but whatever I do, I hope and pray everyone stays well”.

On Australian Idol, “People said she is so nice. But as I see it, for the grace of God goes I. All those kids want to do is sing for a living – just like me. If I say something constructive, they might listen to me. They were like deers in the headlights and plucked from obscurity to having millions of people watch them on television. I don’t know if I could have done it”.

Fashion

When I fess up to Marcia that she was once my style icon, she replies, “I love clothes. I still have my pants from Hair, and they still fit – do they fit as well as they once did? Probably not. But they still fit. I’ve always loved fashion.
I now have my clothes made for me. Like music, everything comes back – everything old is new again”.

“Linda Jackson taught me how to dress. I like Jayson Brandon and Alex Perry – they make you feel beautiful and different for a while. I loved Collette Dinnigan when she was designing. And Camilla gives me lots of clothes. If someone said you can only wear Dior, I would say no. I can go to Sportscraft or Portman’s and wear that with the Dior. Sonia McMahon taught me that”.

Velvet Rewired

In Velvet Rewired, the protagonist Tom is lost. He finds himself in a totally reimagined Studio 54 with a swirl of aerialists and costumed performers. (Marcia mentions she only got to Studio 54 once, and it WAS interesting).

Velvet Rewired This Magnificent Life

“In Velvet, Tom (we call him Country Joe) looks more like a Mormon and encounters all these people and the music, and it’s a catalyst for change”. In Velvet Rewired, “he went out into the world, found love and has his heart broken, so he returns to the people who love him and guided him – Rewired takes the story a little further. For the audience who saw the original show – the music is new, and the story is different”.

I asked Marcia what she wanted people to come away with after Velvet Rewired. She says quietly, “I hope they come away with joy – we’ve been through some stuff. We need each other. We need to be together. People enjoy a live performance. I love it. It is total escapism, and I love it”.

While preparing to tour, Marcia says, “It gets you out of bed. You have so many laughs with great people. I also take my Russian Blue cat Sistah with me. It’s great to walk into your hotel room, and there’s someone you know – you say Hi”.

The Velvet Rewired Australian tour kicks off mid-November at Wynnum Fringe in the Spiegeltent at George Clayton Park in Brisbane on November 16, and runs until December 4 before a national tour. Tickets are on sale here

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Liz Bond

Liz Bond comes from a PR background and loves fine wine, great food and rewarding travel - all the magnificent things in life. She prides herself in meeting famous celebrities at baggage carousels.

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