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The First 50 Podcast — Episode 3: Rhonda Burchmore & Todd McKenney

Wednesday, 22 March 2023
42 min listen
Todd Mc Kenney Rhonda Burchmore

In celebration of World Theatre Day on the 27th March, hear how two iconic Australian performing artists met for the first time at Adelaide Festival Centre!

Rhonda Burchmore and Todd McKenney met in 1983 in Adelaide Festival Centres greenroom while performing in the musical Song and Dance.

Hear them reminisce about their first performances, most memorable backstage moments and how pigeons helped launch Burchmores international career, on episode 3 of 'The First 50' podcast with host Libby O'Donovan.

It was the bravest act... mind you I quite enjoyed it! There were 18 pigeons and I used to sing a song called Warm and Willing and as I removed a veil [of my costume] the pigeons would be released... they used to poo all over me! I had to go to bird training! This number really brought down the house. This show would take me from here [Adelaide Festival Centre] to London. It was my first big break.

— Rhonda Burchmore

Rhonda and I met in the greenroom, which we still use today. The greenroom at Adelaide Festival Centre was a real hub of the whole place where everyone would gather. Adelaide Festival Centre had created a family of workers who were there through every show and were constant, so coming back to the same people who you had a history and friendship with was really gorgeous.

— Todd McKenney

About The First 50 Podcast

Hosted by the powerful and sassy Libby ODonovan, The First 50 podcast series will provide 12 snapshot moments that cover the Centre's 50-year history. Hear stories, anecdotes and memories by those who have had their lives touched by the theatre: performers, artistic directors, ushers, and Walk of Fame-ers. 

The 12 episodes within the series will be published monthly across 2023. Be sure to follow for monthly drops. 


Rhonda Burchmore

With an international career spanning over 35 years, the vivacious, flame-haired Rhonda Burchmore continues to turn heads wherever she goes. Highlights of Rhonda Burchmores illustrious career include performing on Londons West End in Sugar Babies featuring Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller, Stop The World I Want To Get Off with Anthony Newley, starring opposite David Atkins in Hot Shoe Shuffle and her cabaret spectacular Red, Hot & Rhonda. Other lead roles performances include Into the Woods, Mame, Easter Parade, Annie Get Your Gun, The Boyfriend, Urinetown, Theyre Playing Our Song, Song & Dance, Guys & Dolls, Respect- A Musical Journey of Women, Calendar Girls, La Cage Aux Folles, Jerrys Girls, The Drowsy Chaperone and the original Australian production of Mamma Mia!

Todd McKenney

One of Australias most versatile performing artists, Todd McKenney is an award-winning and critically acclaimed performer on stage and screen. As an actor and the leading man of song and dance in musical theatre productions, he has entertained Australians for over 30 years. Career highlights include his most notable role of Peter Allen in the Australian hit production The Boy From Oz, in which he performed over 1000 shows nationally and became one of the longest running and most successful musical productions in Australian history, plus his role as a longstanding and much-loved judge on Dancing with the Stars, currently in its 17th season on Channel 7.

Libby ODonovan 

Libby ODonovan is a powerful and sassy performer (Sydney Morning Herald), renowned for her nuanced interpretations and extraordinary voice. She is a critically acclaimed jazz and cabaret performer and an award-winning Musical Director. Libby has entertained audiences the world-over with her unique talents, performing in New York, Tokyo and Toronto as well as Australia-wide. Equally at home in small ensemble acts as well as solo performances, she has been a proud member of ARIA nominated Cocos Lunch, Flat on Your Bacharach, and Women With Standards, for which she won a Green Room Award for Musical Direction. 

Highly regarded as a solo artist, Libby has performed seasons for the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Edinburgh Fringe, Sydney Spring Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, the International Jazz Educators Convention, Adelaide Cabaret Festival (including working with Broadway composers Jason Robert-Brown and Andrew Lippa), Melbourne Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, Feast Festival, and the Wangaratta Jazz Festival. 

Her theatre credits include Matthew Robinsons Metro Street, Doppio Parallelos DJ Squat, Contaminations Lab and The Last Child, Vitalstatistixs Way Dead Cool and Patch Theatre Companys Sharon Keep Ya Hair On! Libbys recent body of work in Cabaret includes The Story of Meredith Crocksley, Some of My Best Friends Are Single, Gady La La: Songs for the Sophisticated Fag Hag, Kate Leigh: The Worst Woman, UNSUNG and The Cowgirl and The Showgirl. 

As a recording artist she has featured on numerous Jazz and Cabaret albums, as well as her critically acclaimed self-penned albums The Complication, Home to You and Back to Broken Hill

Libby is also highly in demand as a composer, arranger and musical director. 

Libby was the recipient of Adelaide Cabaret Festivals Icon Award in 2022. 

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