If I Can Dream with Mad About Theatre

Image source: Contributed

The bright lights of Broadway and The West End represent the pinnacle of theatre productions and stage shows. John Caruso meets a local director and choreographer who believes from little things, big things grow.  

Oscar Wilde once referred to the theatre as ‘the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being’.

Noosa-born Madison Thew-Keyworth founded Mad About Theatre in 2015 and has since delivered a wide variety of productions, from iconic musical to one woman dramas. 

She’s a director and choreographer, sometimes actor, with serious credentials including delivering the sold-out Australian premiere of Disenchanted and other productions including Priscilla, Chicago, Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages, Legally Blonde The Musical and many more. 

When I talk to her, she is in her second home of New Zealand working on The Wizard of Oz but it is her upcoming project she is most excited about – a brand-new musical, inspired by a little-known animated series with a cult following from the nineties called Li’l Elvis Jones and the Truckstoppers. 

Li’l Elvis the Musical is a new show that we’re creating from scratch and like shows that end up on Broadway, part of that process in the early stages involves writing the script, the music, the songs, and the lyrics to those songs,” she said. 

“We’re very excited that we’ve managed to pull a team together that’s based locally and we’re currently in the writing phase. Later this year that writing will be workshopped for four to six weeks when the writers, musicians, musical director, and talent all come together to see what works and what doesn’t work; which themes resonate and which don’t.

“Sometimes when you put actors behind the words, the outcome can be different to how those words may have looked on paper.”

All this will happen in Noosa where a presentational proof of concept will be delivered at the end of the year.

“That’s when the production enters the next, larger phase when audiences get to see it and that’s usually followed by more tweaking and more writing where things that didn’t resonate with the test audience will be removed and maybe some new ideas will be added,” says Madison.

The goal is that the production will tour Australia, Asia and hopefully end up on Broadway in New York City.

“Things like Muriel’s Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert are two Aussie films that were turned into very successful theatre productions, and they’ve done our industry proud,” she said. 

“It’s very exciting to be on the ‘ground-floor’ of a new project to see where it goes. 

“We’ll source as much as we can locally because I think there’s an extraordinary amount of talent here, including children. 

“Being part of something new like this, helping to bring the writer’s words and ideas to life, is exciting and something many actors get a kick out of doing. I’d love to have as many locals involved as we can.” 

Li’l Elvis Jones and The Truckstoppers was an animated kid’s TV show which ran over two seasons. 

“There were 26 episodes all up and it was set in a small fictional Aussie outback town so our musical theatre production follows the themes from the TV show,” she explains. “A child is left on a couple’s doorstep and the couple believe that the child was left by Elvis Presley. They call him Li’l Elvis and they encourage him to sing Elvis songs and to entertain the locals in this remote outback place. 

“It’s a story of discovery. Li’l Elvis wants to learn who he is and where he fits in, and the other story arc focuses on the small fictional town itself and how it’s being taken over by a mining magnate who wants to exploit the town for its resources. 

“It’s a very Australian story. We’re good at doing ‘small town’ stories that feature an underdog. Li’l Elvis is about the parallel between a small person and a small town looking outwards into the big world and that’s something we’re known for on an international level. 

“I feel this’ll represent us well globally.” 

In a similar fashion, the work that’s being performed locally and the search for talent that’s happening on the Sunshine Coast is a replication of the Li’l Elvis theme. With the ultimate plan of taking the production all over the world which in turn will showcase local talent and community on a bigger stage.          

The best part is that you can play a starring role by heading along to the Fundraising Morning Tea at RACV Noosa Resort and meet the director and team to find out more about how you can support the reimagining of this iconic work as a stage musical!


Join the team and partners behind Li’l Elvis Jones and The Truckstoppers at a fundraising morning tea to find out how you can support this new work in development and be part of history!

DATE: Thursday 17 August

PLACE: RACV Noosa Resort

For more information and to register your attendance, call 0468 795 295 or email info@madabout.com.au

About the Author /


After 30 years in radio, John now runs the Conversations IN Noosa podcast and in between being our writer, sanity checker, accounts manager, event MC, and delivery boy; he spends time with his first love, recording a daily Drive program for regional radio from home (often in his pyjamas); and presenting Saturday mornings on Hot 91.1. He has previously worked for FoxFM Melbourne, Triple M Brisbane and SeaFM, as well as managing and presenting on ABC Sunshine Coast.

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