TOM Oliver’s journey with Rolling Thunder Vietnam began during his involvement in two creative developments for the show in his hometown of Brisbane in 2013.
He is now the last man standing from that original group of performers as the concert drama tours Australia for the second time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
“We did our first national tour in 2014 where I was lucky enough to create the role of Johnny, a young Australian man who leaves the farm and goes to war,” Oliver said.
“Writer Bryce Hallett had done a series of interviews with Vietnam veterans and wives and girlfriends whose partners had gone to war.
“He came into the rehearsal room with a lot of stories and we developed the script and sung the songs.
“The end result is a rollercoaster of a ride through the ’60s and ’70s with the songs that defined that generation.”
Oliver, who was in The Voice in 2014, said the production was the best show he had been involved in and the nearest he would come to feeling a military connection.
“My great granddad was in World War I and went to Gallipoli,” he said.
“My dad was in the Navy and served for many years and my aunty was an entertainer in Vietnam for the Aussie and American troops.
“I have so many family connections to my character and it’s kind of the closest I’ll ever get, I think, to going to war.”
Oliver said he was pumped to be returning to Rolling Thunder Vietnam after two years, alongside Wes Carr and Ben Mingay, feeling he had grown a lot over the break.
“I’ve just turned 23; I was 21 then and a lot has happened in my life during that time,” he said.
“As an actor, I get so much out of the role and getting to sing those songs with music director Chong Lim and members of John Farnham’s band; you can’t sing those songs with any better players in the country.
“At the end of the show I get to sing Bridge Over Troubled Water, which is such a buzz.
“And with the audience reaction we received last time, I can’t think of a negative with returning to the show.”
Community Newspaper Group has 10 double passes to give away to Rolling Thunder Vietnam on Wednesday, August 17. Enter here before 10am, Monday, July 4.
What: Rolling Thunder Vietnam
Where: Crown Theatre Perth
When: August 17 to 20