Marking 50 years since The Beatles toured Australia

50 years ago, in June 1964, conservative Australia was rattled by a visit to our shores by the ear-splitting, long-haired, yeah-singing phenomenon that was The Beatles. Booked at a bargain rate before Beatlemania had hit, they won our hearts with their quick-witted irreverent humour, refreshing optimism, and sheer good music.

For The Beatles themselves it was a nightmare round of sterile hotel rooms, dingy dressing rooms, hectic civic receptions, bruises from thrown jelly babies, not to mention the screaming fans that drowned out the music to the point that the Fab Four couldn’t hear themselves, and didn’t sound that fab.

When It Was ’64 is performed by Shortis & Simpson with a Fab Band- Kate Hosking (bass and vocals), Jon Jones (drums), Dave O’Neill (lead guitar), Bob Rodgers (rhythm guitar and vocals).

In When It Was ’64, Shortis & Simpson tell the story of Australia at the time, and the effect the visit had on us, interspersed with songs of the era. Then, with the help of the band, they will perform the complete set The Mop Tops played here all those years ago. And for those who can’t sit still, there will be a dance floor. Don’t miss this evening of humour, surprising stories, and great music. Canberra Southern Cross Club, Woden, Friday June 13. Dinner and show (2 courses) $64, 6.30pm. $29 show only, 8.30pm. (Preferential seating for Dinner & Show patrons.) Bookings: 6283 7288. Info www.cscc.com.au



See Simpson as you’ve NEVER seen her before in this new musical inspired by Mikhail Bulgakov’s novella of the same name. The story of a doctor living a privileged lifestyle in revolutionary Moscow, until a brutal experiment on a stray dog brings chaos to his ordered life and threatens to destroy his professional reputation and avowed bachelorhood. Satirical, allegorical, and timely.

Street Theatre, Thurs/Fri/Sat 22/23/24 May, 7.30pm. $39/$29 conc. $34 groups of 4 or more. Bookings 6247 1223 or www.thestreet.org.au


Up-to-date political satire

Australia has been under new management for around 200 days now. To mark the occasion, Shortis & Simpson, between flying Qantas, driving Holden, and eating Cadbury’s, have been working away at a new satirical cabaret, Open For Business. Yes, as the Age of Entitlement sinks slowly in the West, they sing of repealing and concealing, boat stopping, and public service lopping, not to mention detention, slippery Senators, and more. And, as they sail the Sea of Liberal Blue, they won’t let ALP red, green Christine and yellow Palmers out of their sights either. Open For Business is their first political satire show since the election, and will contain the usual array of stings and barbs, thought provoking moments, laughs and tears. If there was ever a time we need a good laugh it’s when we’re Open For Business. Two shows only, don’t miss it.

Teatro Vivaldi, ANU campus

Sat April 12, 7pm, 3 course meal plus show $70/$80/$90 depending on seating, show only $40/$50/$60 (show starts 8.30pm)

Sun April 13, 5pm, champagne and canapés $35/$45/$65 (no show only)

Bookings 6257 2718

Out of the Cabinet

To go with the release of cabinet documents of Shortis & Simpson present a comedic musical take on the years 1986 and 1987. Their unique style of satirical comedy is sure to entertain and give you a feel for the political, musical and social scene of the time. Get a dose of history too as the wry National Archives historian Dr Jim Stokes presents highlights of the Hawke government from 1986 and 1987 Cabinet records recently released to the public. A glass of bubbly on arrival is included as part of the ticket price.

Friday 28 February and Saturday 1 March, 7.30pm National Archives of Australia Queen Victoria Terrace Parkes ACT 2600 $20 adults, $15 concession. This event is part of the Enlighten Festival. Bookings essential: either ring Ticketek on 132849, or go online to http://www.enlightencanberra.com.au, then hit the Ticketek link

For more info go to


Out of the Cabinet

To go with the release of cabinet documents of Shortis & Simpson present a comedic musical take on the years 1986 and 1987. Their unique style of satirical comedy is sure to entertain and give you a feel for the political, musical and social scene of the time. Get a dose of history too as the wry National Archives historian Dr Jim Stokes presents highlights of the Hawke government from 1986 and 1987 Cabinet records recently released to the public. A glass of bubbly on arrival is included as part of the ticket price.

Friday 28 February and Saturday 1 March, 7.30pm National Archives of Australia Queen Victoria Terrace Parkes ACT 2600 $20 adults, $15 concession. This event is part of the Enlighten Festival. Bookings essential: Tickets on sale from 15 January.



The Pollie and the Ivy


Satire, song and silliness

It’s the silly season, for two reasons- Christmas is coming, and the new parliament is sitting for 4 weeks.  To celebrate this double dose of insanity, Shortis & Simpson present an evening of satire, song and silliness in The Pollie and the Ivy. Turkeys abound as Canberra’s leading satirists sing of the foibles and follies of Abbotts and Bishops, Shortens and Milnes, Clives and Barnabies, as well as the heartaches, pains and joys of this festive time. The Pollie and the Ivy is being performed in the funky and intimate surrounds of Smith’s Alternative, right in the heart of the Melbourne Building. With its irreverence, wit, relevance and poignancy, this show will have you laughing and crying all the way to the office Christmas party. The Pollie and the Ivy is Shortis and Simpson’s first Christmas show for many years. Don’t miss it.

Smith’s Alternative Bookshop, 76 Alinga St Canberra, Fri Dec 6, Sat Dec 7 8pm, Sun Dec 8, 2pm, $30/$25 concession, and groups of 8+. Bookings 6247 4459, SmithsAlternative@gmail.com, or drop in from 10am



EARTHBeat is a concert presented by Common Ground Exhibitions & Research, featuring Ecopella acapella choir, and Shortis and Simpson, celebrating our amazing country as it calls us to care for its future.

Established by Miguel Heatwole in Sydney in 1988, the environmental choir Ecopella sings about the beauty of our world and the struggle to protect it from exploitation and destruction, all with a sense of fun and an abundance of positive and satirical messages.

In their 17 years of living in the region, Shortis and Simpson have built an extensive repertoire of original compositions honouring the power of nature and celebrating places in the land, from songs with local references to more global environmental issues, and with plenty of satire.

And the two acts will combine in a moving finale.

Saturday October, 8:00pm, $30/$25 concession, tickets available at https://earthbeat.eventbrite.com.au

More Information:  http://www.belconnenartscentre.com.au/whatson/earthbeatconcert.html

Doors Open: 7.30pm

Delicious snacks available from our environmentally friendly caterer: 7.30-8pm and interval




Worldy Goods goes to court

As part of Canberra’s Centenary, a Musical Offering presents music every day of 2013 in venues beyond traditional theatres and concert halls. Worldly Goods choir will present its musical offering assisted by the amazing acoustics of the High Court foyer. Songs from around the world, some with links to the goings on within the building over the years, will reverberate.

Sunday November 10, 2.30pm, High Court foyer, free. No bookings required

A Suppository of Wisdom

 Suffering from post-election blues? Then get rid of the crap with a dose of witty, irreverent, up-to-date musical satire from Shortis and Simpson

For some time now the politicians, with their gaffes and follies, have been writing Shortis and Simpson’s material for them. Now they’re giving them the titles. Thanks to a beautiful slip of the tongue by Mr Malaprop himself, Tony Abbott, their next satire show is a way to clear the crap after the post-election blues. Watch and listen as they turn the dullest election campaign of our times into fun and laughter, with some very new songs to be written once the results are known. The usual witty irreverence will prevail, and all in the intimate confines of a newish cabaret venue, right in the heart of the city. Don’t miss Shortis and Simpson in their first satire show since March.   Smith’s Alternative Bookshop,76 Alinga St Canberra, Thurs/Fri Sept 12/13, 8pm, Sat Sept 14, 5pm. $30/$25 concession. Bookings 6247 4459, or drop in any day from 10am.


Come out of the shower and sing!

As part of the BLOOM FESTIVAL, Moya Simpson will be running a VOICE WORKSHOP for singers and non-singers alike. If you’ve always wanted to sing, come along and explore your voice, improvise, harmonise in the safety of a large group. All welcome. The Ralph Wilson Theatre, Gorman House, Saturday 21st. September, 10am to 4pm. Cost $45 or $40 concession.

MICHAEL FRANCIS WILLOUGHBY IN ELOHGULP                                  Jigsaw Theatre presents a show for 8-12 year olds about a little boy who won’t get out of the bath and goes down the plughole to Elohgulp. It’s a world full of all the ugly stuff that gets washed down the drain. Here you will meet the Drits, made up of murky, mucky bits and bobs and blobs, the Assupods, all froth and suds, and the Gludse, the most terrifying of creatures… made all the more frightening because you created it. Michael Francis Willoughby in Elohgulp will take you into a world made from puppetry and music, light and sound. Original music by John Shortis. Canberra Theatre Centre, 28 Sept- 12 Oct. $25adults/$20concession/$15 children/$75 family. Bookings and info www.canberratheatrecente.com.au 

One River On Air

The Murray Darling Basin hits the sound waves 

What does an endangered frog have in common with a fly fisherman, a carillonist, a post-war migrant, and a monster that inhabits a fake lake? They’ve all got stories to tell about our local waterways, and they all appear in One River On Air, a community radio show to be broadcast on ArtSound FM on Sunday August 25 at 4pm.

Shortis and Simpson have been digging out yarns about local connections to the Murray-Darling Basin, writing songs in community songwriting workshops, and collecting already existing songs, to present this funny, moving and entertaining radio show. And, being radio, there are sound effects, a quiz, a news flash, a weather report, an ad, and a talkback segment, all featuring a range of community voices.

In One River on Air you’ll also hear Worldly Goods Choir, the Cyrenes women’s choir, the students from St John the Apostle Primary School, The Ukulele Republic of Canberra, the National Carillon, and many local voices.

One River On Air is the ACT contribution to a Centenary of Canberra project, One River, in which 10 communities from Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic and SA participate in arts projects that tell of their connections to the Murray Darling Basin.

One River On Air will be broadcast on Sun Aug 25 at 4pm on ArtSound FM, 92.7 (90.3 in the Tuggeranong Valley).


At Belconnen Arts Centre on Sat Aug 24, all 10 communities of the One River project come together. Immerse yourself in the lived experience of the Murray-Darling Basin, told through story, song, dance, film, sound and artefact. Touch it. Hear it. Breathe it. Audio-visual installations including performance events. Open from 10am. Event time 4-8pm. Free no booking required.

Then on Sun Aug 25 at the National Museum of Australia- Critical Undercurrents. Symposium and artists’ talks. Visions Theatre 10am-4pm, lunch included. Bookings essential. bookings@nma.gov.au

One River is a Centenary of Canberra project, proudly supported by the ACT Government and the Australian Government.



Commissioned by the Centenary of Canberra, award-winning theatre company Urban Theatre Projects has collaborated with local Canberra artists to create this bold and compelling new work. And Moya Simpson is one of those local artists, along with Jeremy Broom, Casey Keed and Benjamin Slabb, being led out of their comfort zones by co-directors Rosie Dennis and Alicia Talbot.

Catalogue of Dreams tells a multi-faceted story of the lives of young people at risk in the ACT.

The Sydney Morning Herald has called Urban Theatre Projects ‘…refreshingly honest, unpatronising and bullshit free…’

It’s on at The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre London Circuit, Canberra, from Wed 17 July to Sat 27 July. Bookings 6275 2700, or at Canberra Theatre box office, or www.canberratheatrecentre.com.au


..and also…. ONE RIVER

One River is a Centenary of Canberra project in which 10 artists in communities within the Murray Darling Basin facilitate community engagement and story sharing towards creating exceptional works of art around the river theme.

Shortis and Simpson are leading the Canberra component of the project, involving a massed choir (based around the Worldly Goods Choir), massed ukuleles (the Ukulele Republic of Canberra), a community songwriting group, and the National Carillon.

The result will be a broadcast to be aired on ArtSound FM and other community stations after August 2013.

You can witness the recording of the One River theme song written by John Shortis for choir and carillon on Sun Aug 18 at Aspen Island (recording at 10am, world premiere performance as part of the regular carillon recital between 12.30 and 1.20pm.)

Then on Sat Aug 24, representatives from all 10 communities will be converging on Canberra for a gala event at Belconnen Arts Centre. More details soon.


Bob Hawke meets Cyndi Lauper

Our annual performance at the National Archives, to accompany the release of 1984-5 Cabinet papers.  Historian Dr Jim Stokes presents a wry look at the records themselves, while we set the social, political and musical scene. And what years they were- elections in Australia and US, Howard replaces Peacock as Opposition Leader, Keating flexes his muscle. It’s the era of Live Aid, We Are the World, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Halleluiah, Like a Virgin, and much more. National Archives of Australia, Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes, Sat/Sun Feb 2/3, 11am/2pm, free. Bookings naa.gov.au/visit-us/events. More information 6212 3956


PRIME TIME- the songs

John Shortis has written 52 songs about all 27 of our PMs (it is election year, so that number is up for review). We are currently recording them all, and creating weekly segments to be played on national community radio throughout 2013. In Canberra you can catch them on Artsound FM 92.7, each Monday, just after the 6 o’clock news


PRIME TIME- the show

27 PMs at their best and worst

With John Shortis as researcher/songwriter and John Romeril as writer/ dramaturg, Catherine Langman as director, Prime Time is an original musical/ theatrical production, part of the Centenary of Canberra, performed by a cast of thousands, including Shortis and Simpson, two other actor/singers, and Worldly Goods Choir. Cabaret, comedy, drama, community involvement, archival sound and images collide in this epic tale of public and private lives, of a populous responding to dramatic and fast-changing events, and of an evolving capital city. Funny, moving, informative, entertaining. Bookings open now. The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan, May 23-June 1. $39/$34 concession and groups, $29 matinees. www.theq.net.au, 6285 6290


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