The Rise and Fall of Saint George

Music, Pop
A performance of The Rise and Fall of Saint George, with a choir on stage, Paul Mac playing keyboard, and a projected mural of George Michael
Photograph: Supplied/Sydney Festival/Jamie James

Time Out says

Let us pray to the queer gods and our beloved George that the sun shines on this fabulous Headlands show

The Wham! song ‘Last Christmas’ took on terrible poignancy in 2016 when we lost queer heartthrob and global superstar George Michael way too soon. In honour of the ultimate ‘Father Figure’, beloved Sydney music maestros Paul Mac and Jonny Seymour commissioned a huge mural on the side of their Newtown home. Painted by celebrated artist Scott Marsh, it depicted Michael with a halo, joint and amyl in hand. And then it was destroyed, shortly after the nation said ‘Yes’ to the postal plebiscite on marriage equality.

The drama this sparked up is befitting of the man who wooed the world with ‘Faith’ and then came out in spectacular fashion after getting busted in a beat by an undercover cop in LA with the disco ball-lit, public toilet-set video for ‘Outside’. And also of the Sydney Festival show The Rise and Fall of Saint George that depicts how the drama played out.

Created by Mac and playwright Lachlan Philpott, it’s a sublime show that’s so much more than a George Michael mega-mix. It’s a love story to the power of art, and to the heroism of LGTBIQ+ people in the face of adversity. This is the story of the mural, what it meant to the community, coming together in solidarity and moving past its loss with strength.

Surprisingly emotional, bring your hankies when it takes over the Headlands at Barangaroo Reserve for one night only on January 15, 2021. Directed by Kate Champion, Mac communes on stage with the backing of a giant choir. This is a work of resilience and hope; an urgent call to arms so that we may not let hard-won rights and freedoms be lost. Saint George of Newtown would be proud.

Read our interview with Paul Mac here, our Melbourne Festival review here, and our Sydney Festival highlights here


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