On With the Show’s French connection
By SHIRLEY BROUN
OWNING a website is a wonderful tool to track down lost friends, colleagues and entertainers. The internet’s coverage is worldwide and it’s accessible by anyone who has a working internet connection. Recently, we published a Flashback to Frank Ifield’s Column in Variety Today (1990) and were delighted to receive an email from Australia’s Price and McCoy who Frank had bumped into and mentioned during a trip to Madrid.
Flashback to 1990
Frank wrote in 1990: Here in England now the nights are drawing in and the days growing colder taking my mind back to the lovely summer we’ve had. In particular, the trips around England and the continent with my mother and brother Jim here on vacation. I remember the joy in the heat of Madrid in Spain and my meeting up with an Australian act working in a big production show at `Scala’ Melia.
They had been working in the Conrad Jupiter’s Casino show on the Gold Coast when I first saw them, a tumbling/acrobatic act known as Price and McCoy. Needless to say, they captured the love of the Germans and naturally the Spanish took them to their hearts, prompting a return date in early 1991.
Terry told me their sights were set on the Lido Paris and Las Vegas and I know that both these dreams will come true for them, having seen their polished professionalism. Don’t forget to come back and entertain the Aussie audiences fellas!
Price and McCoy replied (2013)
I have just read the above blog written by Frank Ifield in 1990. It certainly was a pleasure to catch up with Frank in Madrid, some 23 years ago now. Well, we’re still going (Price and McCoy), still doing shows, still flying the Aussie flag, just not the 6 or 7 days a week shows anymore.
We never ended up performing at the Lido, that’s because we became a Moulin Rouge act. Our Las Vegas stint was short, only one month, but we got there! Other highlights included support act for Andy Williams in the USA for a year and TV shows in lots of countries, including USA. So there you go!
ON With the Show took the opportunity to catch up with Terry Price, of Price and McCoy, to hear first-hand about what life as an Aussie act, living in France and performing internationally had been like after all these years.
We took to Skype at 3.30pm (Australian Eastern standard time) and 7.30am (French time) for a one-on-one interview.
Terry was bright and perky, biting at the bit for his early morning appointment at the nearby gym with his showbiz partner Henning Pedersen (McCoy). “We have to work on our fitness all the time,” said Terry who turns 57 in August. “A sports person gets fit for an event and then allows the body to slow up. But for us, we have to keep going on the same rhythm consistently because we are out there performing all the time.”
However, he said, they don’t try to be too fit. “It is easier to maintain if you keep a certain fitness level so we rehearse Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the body rests on the alternate days, then we work on weekends.”
Originally from Albury, Terry initially formed Price and McCoy with fellow member of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus Tim Freeman in 1981. For the next two years they worked the Sydney Club Circuit before heading to London for a year where they parted ways. Terry, who returned to Sydney, then teamed up with Peter Dagger in 1984. However, Henning has been with him now 27 years since the pair first worked together in the Jupiter’s stage spectacular first as understudy for Peter in Jupiter Casino’s `Starz’ production and then in `Galaxies’.
When not performing in Galaxies, Price and McCoy would perform at Free Entertainment in the Park events in Brisbane (FREEP) and also at Expo ’88, gaining valuable experience that would help in years to come. In fact, these events are hugely popular in Europe and still form an important part of the duo’s work.
Off to Europe
Fresh from the success of the highly successful production shows at Jupiters on the Gold Coast and after six months on the Sydney Showboat Price and McCoy set off in a bid to make it on the international scene kicking off with contracts to work in Germany. “Then, when we first arrived in Paris we hit the cabaret scene which was big in those days,” said Terry. “Then in 1991 the war hit the Middle East and people stopped travelling as much. The shows relied on tourists and when they didn’t come, the shows slowed up and the scene got quieter.”
Price and McCoy then had to compete against an influx of Russian artists who worked for `half the price’, according to Terry. “It was a tough time but we were lucky because variety was still big in Germany. Variety shows everywhere and they ran for a month or two at a time. There was also a chain of variety shows called GOP that offered 8 and 9 month contracts.”
In 1990, Price and McCoy were appearing in the `Scala’ Melia production in Madrid which is where they first met Frank Ifield. “Frank came to see our show and we met up later and took a photo. It was always great to see someone from home and Frank was a big star over there,” said Terry.
As a comedy acrobatic team, Price and McCoy were the ultimate sight act performers attracting fans and praise wherever they went. Asked why they were so successful, Terry said: “I think it could be a combination of things. We learned very quickly to interact with our audiences and to combine serious acrobatics with comedy in a wide range of themes. We get people out of the audience and we work around them. It has been a successful recipe for many years now.”
Fortunately Terry had a good head on his shoulders for it would often – and still to this day – have to hold the weight of his partner. “Of all the routines we perform, the head balance would have to be the hardest to maintain,” said Terry. “It is more specialised and you really have to concentrate.”
In demand – Moulin Rouge, Andy Williams
Terry admitted the duo never achieved their goal to perform at the Lido but only due to the fact that the opposition, the famous Moulin Rouge in Paris, grabbed them first.
Then came an invitation from US superstar Andy Williams to work with him for a year at his major theatre venue in Branson, Missouri. “We toured with him as well and worked in many of America’s big stadiums. He was such a huge star and was so wonderful to us. He put us up on his golf course and we became such great friends.”
“We are still close with the musicians we worked with there too. We made the band part of our act just as Andy Williams did. When he went off for a chicken soup during the show we would perform for 20 minutes before he came back for the final half. We all worked so well together,” said Terry. “We still have some great friends who worked in the band from those days.”
Cruising back to Branson
When Price and McCoy returned to Europe a year later they found the industry had changed. “Contracts were pretty tight and many of the big shows like` Scala’ Madrid had closed. “We had to try and get back into it again and eventually ended up on the cruise ships before returning to Branson for four years to perform on the Branson Belle show boat.”
Like boomerangs – reflecting on their Aussie background, the pair eventually ended up back in Europe where the scene had changed yet again.
But somehow this innovative acrobatic team managed to maintain a hectic work schedule. “It was always easy to get work on the cruise ships and we are in demand for corporate, gala and Christmas events as well as a whole host of festivals during the summer. Most of the cities in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany have a festival each year – it’s like the old days back in Brisbane with the free entertainment in the parks. Brings back memories,” said Terry.
Teaching future acrobats
Family and France
Both Terry and Henning are now married and settled, living in Tarbes, in the south west of France. Henning has two children and Terry and his wife have a son who is doing his final year at school.
These days most of their performances are on weekends so Terry is keeping busy teaching the Australia style of acrobatics with his signature comedy feel in Circus schools. “And he has some pretty good protégés coming up,” he said proudly.
Terry is also teaching performance skills and choreographs all their routines in readiness for the Junior Circus School Championships to be held in October.
Price and McCoy still perform their trademark event of Comedy Acrobatics but audiences have come to expect – and always received – something a little different each time. “When we first decided to go to Europe in those early days everyone told us we were crazy because there were so many acrobats already there. So, from day one we always tried to provide something different – we still do that to this day.”
Today, Price and McCoy can hold their heads high having successfully represented Australia in the international show business scene for some 27 years and still going strong. “I remember all those years ago when we won Queensland Entertainment Wallace Awards for Sight Act of the Year and another for the top Entertainers of the Year. It was unheard of for a sight act to win the top award and I think many wondered if we were deserving of it. After all, we were only a sight act,” said Terry.
All these years later, and with sell out performances at the Moulin Rouge, on tour with Andy Williams, and thousands of performances throughout the world … it would be fair to say, Price and McCoy proved they were indeed worthy and should take a bow!Tweet