It was quite a momentous night when, after 31 years, I finally got the chance to pass on the ‘Puberty Blues’ baton to the next generation. Original cast members of the film including Tony Hughes (‘Danny’), Jay Hackett (‘Bruce’), Ned Lander (‘Strach’) and Dean Dunstone (‘Seagull’) joined me at the Bondi Pavilion for a special screening in memory of Jad Capelja (‘Sue’) who suffered from schizophrenia and eventually took her life two years ago.
Brenna Harding is the talented young actress who plays ‘Sue’ in the new TV series and she, along with the gorgeous Dan Wyllie, who plays her father ‘Roger Knight’, and the possibly even more gorgeous Sean Keenan, who plays the troubled ‘Gary’, came along to introduce the movie to the crowd of 200 plus fans. Brenna told us all how, in preparation for their roles, the young cast had “Shaggin’ Wagon rehearsal sessions” in which the male actors had real difficulties being as rude and horrible to the girls as the retro ’70s script required them to be. Thankfully, it seems that the species has evolved and the sensitive new age male prevails, at least among the acting fraternity.
I didn’t sit through the screening – I’ve seen it enough times – but by all accounts everyone loved the communal ritual of watching it in a theatre, laughing together at the fun bits and groaning in unison at the darker chapters. By some strange quirk of fate the film was also screening that same night on ABC 2 so it was ‘Puberty Blues’ all over the nation but especially down at Bondi, that iconic beach where I started surfing myself at the age of 13.
After the film, Tony Hughes and his awesome reggae band ‘King Tide’ pumped out the beats in the theatre until late interspersed by fabulous tunes in the foyer from our DJs Avra Cybele and Annabelle Gaspar. Good vibes and big hearts ruled and through ticket sales and a silent auction we raised over $10,000 for the national depression initiative beyondblue who were fully stoked with our efforts on the last day of National Mental Health Week.
People are already talking about making it an annual event but we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, Channel 10 have announced another ten episodes of the TV series for next year and Brenna and Sean are going to see if they can’t persuade the producers to find a wee cameo for me – a shag on a rock somewhere out the back dishing out pearls of wisdom, perhaps? Who knows? Maybe it could be the kick start of a whole new career?