Entertainer Interview: Lyndon Keenan – The Aussie Boys

Used to sailing the South Pacific as part of the exuberant Aussie Boys, Lyndon is currently experiencing a different “South Pacific” as he moves from Sydney’s Opera House to Melbourne’s Princess Theatre performing in the Rodgers and Hammerstein production.

With roles including Joseph in “Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat” under his belt, Lyndon took some time out to speak to e-Travel Blackboard about his love of cruising and of the Danny Zuko deep within.

Natalie: How did you first get into musicals?

Lyndon: When I was a kid, my parents were always saying that I should be on TV and I really enjoyed all of that kind of stuff.

As I got older, I started to realize that I could sing…it was just kind of a natural progression from there.

I started doing school musicals and, when I was 16, I did my first professional musical in New Zealand and played a little role in that, it was a musical called “Ovation”.

From then I just knew that I wanted to sing and two years after that I got into my first big musical, “Grease”.

Natalie: Did you play Danny Zuko?

Lyndon: No I played Doody but I actually want to play Danny Zuko on Broadway!

I went to a clairvoyant and she told me I am going to play Danny Zuko, that’s my dream role!

After “Grease” I trained for three years in musical theatre and since then I’ve been lucky, working between Australia and New Zealand and overseas pretty much since in musicals and on cruise ships.

Natalie: So how did Aussie Boys come about?

Lyndon: Well Andrew (fellow “Aussie Boy” Andrew Ronay-Jenkins) and I

actually met in 2009 at an audition for a cruise ship as one of the cast for Princess Cruises and then the same day we had Royal Caribbean auditions so we were together all day.

Andrew and I were chatting about it being our first ship and, in the end, Andrew got Princess and I got Royal!

We were the only two guys of the day that actually got contracts and we kept in touch.

I worked aboard the Splendor of the Seas in Europe as a ‘Boy Two’, which is a singer/dancer.

Natalie: How did you find actually working on board?

Lyndon: I struggled, but I loved the travel and that kind of stuff and I was still young.

It was my second professional job out of training, my first was a musical and I just really wanted to try something different.

I had always wanted to work on ships as a singer but never knew in what capacity.

I found it difficult living in such confined spaces and I found it difficult having to live by the schedule; you eat at this time, everything closes at this time…

We had to do boat drills and all that kind of stuff and the ship was quite small as well…it was old too…so that was my first ship job.

Natalie: How long was your contract?

Lyndon: It was six months, so it was a short one, which is really lucky because I was just ready to get off.

I just thought, no this isn’t for me.

So I said I wouldn’t do ships anymore and then discovered, two years later, that Andy had been doing ships a lot.

NatalieWas he working as a guest entertainer or cast?

Lyndon: He had his own show on Thompson Cruises and then he kept working for Princess as the lead singer but he also did a split show.

Then he got a job for Thompson Cruises out of the U.K. as a guest entertainer before he went to Miami and was in contact with Barry, who’s an agent over there, who auditioned him and told him he had an idea for a group called the Aussie Boys.

We had a huge need for it in the industry; all the ships had been saying they need a group that’s Australian.

Andy Skyped me that night and said he had something for me and that I’d be perfect for it!

He sent me through the brief and told me to send all my stuff off right away, so I went to a studio and recorded some tracks and sent them all off.

They straight away said done, perfect, and they just had to audition one more guy who they thought could be great for it and then we got together a couple of weeks later when Andy got back and we started from there.

It took a long time, but in terms of a product it was quite quick. We learnt everything quickly.

Natalie: The show is so polished and, while it’s sometimes corny, it’s not so corny that you’re embarrassed as an Australian. Sometimes that can happen with “Aussie” themed shows.

Lyndon: We’re aware of that and because we are all young guys and we’re all actors as well, we all know how we come across to audiences.

It’s all about putting it onto us and making ourselves look stupid so that it doesn’t get cheesy.

When you perform, especially in “Aussie Boys”, you want everyone to believe what you’re saying and what you’re singing about.

You want the Australians to feel patriotic and the Americans to want to be from this country.

There’s a really fine line and I think it was a matter of us three sitting down and going through all the stuff the Americans sent us and all the music and going, okay, how do we make this real and jokey and fun?

Natalie: Do you take into consideration the ship that you’re on when deciding which songs to perform?

Lyndon: Well we have a repertoire of all the songs, so we have a main show and then we have six or seven other songs that we can chop and change from.

So, for example, on the Rhapsody of the Seas we always start with “Down Under” because it’s a young crowd and everybody’s up clapping, whereas on the Amsterdam we’ll start with “I Am Australian”, because it’s more refined.

NatalieDo you have a favorite ship that you’ve sailed on as part of the Aussie Boys?

Lyndon: All of us like the Amsterdam the most as a ship.

NatalieWhy is that?

Lyndon: We all like the way the ship’s laid out.

It’s not too big, not too small…it feels big but it’s not.

We just like the old school cruising.

We have also had really amazing responses on that ship, every time we go on the crew are amazing, the cruise director has been so great.

They just sing our praises, they really appreciate what we do and we really appreciate what they do as well and the food is amazing!

I’d have to say that for dining experiences, Pinnacle Grill (Holland America Line) and Silk Road on Crystal were just the best!

Natalie: Crystal offers the best Sushi in the world!

Lyndon: I personally absolutely loved Crystal!

If I could be on another ship as cast it would be Crystal…it’s the only one I’d ever go on.

The shows onboard are great too!

It’s really hard to get cast there though…I think they have to have Broadway credits to get in.

Natalie: I’ve heard that the Aussie Boys are heading over to the U.S. in 2014, could you tell me a bit more about that?

Lyndon: Our Miami agent has us booked for the New York Cabaret Convention which is a convention for artists or just solo singers and groups like us to go and showcase what we do.

All the agents and Broadway casting directors come and watch and a lot of Broadway talent has been pulled from there.

They work that way in the States; they go and see shows and if they like someone, they take them.

For our agent it’s all about getting us to New York, being seen.

We’re hoping that a tour will come out of it, but we will probably still stay in the States anyway and try and do some bigger cities and do some shows.

I think their whole aim is to try and make Aussie Boys into an Australian show in America.

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Words: Natalie Aroyan