Dusty The Original Pop Diva Sunnybank Theatre

To the Boss! With love

June Gemmell is the musical director of Dusty The Original Pop Diva, and took me on in 2013 as pianist for another musical Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. June is bossy, precise, and quite magnificent. She can say all sorts of things to the singers (which I would have trouble saying) without offending anyone.

Examples might be:

You’re too slow.”
“You’re flat.”
“Faster!”
“You’re coming in too late.”

In Breaking Up, she said to me:

“You need to play louder! Lean forward, use your forearm strength!”

“Don’t twiddle around like that, Joanna. It’s not jazz.This is rock!”

I loved her bossing me. It was the first time I had played in a musical, and I had soooo much to play, from beginning to end. It was fantastic. I felt like her puppy. What an experience.

To top it off, Director Leonie Walsh gave me a collection of Crabtree & Evelyn hand lotions and said:

“Because pianists need to look after their hands”.

I was on Cloud 9. I was a pianist! Not a sub-editor, not even a piano teacher. A pianist! Leonie could not possibly have known the impact that had on me.

June and her husband David lived on a boat for years. The boat was called Bach & Byte because she was a music teacher and he was an IT man. Isn’t that wonderful?

What’s also wonderful is that June won a Ladies Captain’s Cup at some point during their nautical episode. She amazes me.

June asked me to teach her grandson, which is a compliment beyond words. Although I expect he wonders why I don’t bellow my instructions 🙂

I’m off with Mike to Sydney for a short break, and will miss a band rehearsal.

The band members have just started weekly sessions together. Second keyboard, lead guitar, bass and drums. More to report on that later, eh?

Music, oh the joy of it…

[UPDATED to add these comments written under this post, on my Facebook page.]

Fiona Tainton
This captures mum so beautifully Joanna, and it’s so lovely to read about the impact she has had on other people’s lives. ❤️

Leonie Walsh
June is a dear, dear friend who I love to pieces. Her musicality is on another level from her peers. I love joining forces with her on musical theatre shows. Joanna drink in her knowledge. She’s got the lot !

Robyn Ryan
I first worked with June 24 years ago. I would follow her to the ends of the earth to keep working with her. Her head is a goldmine of musical knowledge that I’ve leeched mercilessly over the years and she doesn’t mind. She just keeps teaching me. What do I love about her the most though? Her enthusiasm! Even though she has often driven me nuts talking about the NEXT show before we even have this one on stage! You have a wonderful mentor Joanna. We all do 🙂

Clare Patrick
We love our June Gemmell to pieces. It’s funny watching people who have not done a show with her before when we are working on a song, especially when she sings along with us. They look confused as they sing and check their vocal scores until I whisper to them, It’s OK, she often sings the wrong words.” Ahhhh. But, she whips us into shape like no one I know and in super quick time. She still amazes me.

Fiona Russo
Yay June! Well deserved accolades. I can’t imagine anyone who’s ever worked with you saying any different. X

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