Jill Perryman AM MBE 1933
Jill was born in Melbourne in 1933.
At age 19 Jill joined the JCW chorus. In 1953 she understudied Evie Hayes in Call Me Madam.
In the late 1950s and early 60s Jill sparkled in a string of Phillip Street revues.
In 1995 Jill toured as Dolly Levi in a brand new production of Hello, Dolly!, with Warren Mitchell.
In 1978 Jill was awarded the MBE.
‘Working for J.C. Williamson’s was possibly the greatest thing that ever happened to me,’ says Jill Perryman. ‘I loved Williamson’s, funnily enough, before their theatres were tarted up, because I loved the grottiness backstage. As you opened the stage door there used to be an onrush of the smell of size, which is the glue that they used for the sets and the backdrops and everything. It was awful, but to me, it was like Chanel No 5. I think I’d have been happy in the chorus for the rest of my life. I just loved being there. The rest of my career that evolved was a total shock.’
Jill was born in Melbourne in 1933. Her parents, William Perryman and Dorothy Duval, were JCW ‘regulars’ – in fact they were touring when Jill made her stage debut when, aged two, she wandered onto the set of White Horse Inn. She was written into the show, but ‘retired’ when the tour finished. Despite their parents’ wishes, both Jill and her sister, Diana, pursued stage careers.
At age 19 Jill joined the JCW chorus. In 1953 she understudied Evie Hayes in Call Me Madam, then appeared in Paint Your Wagon, Can-Can and South Pacific. She played Mabel in The Pajama Game, followed by the lead in Can-Can.
In the late 1950s and early 60s Jill sparkled in a string of Phillip Street revues. In 1965 she was cast as Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly!, and played the lead when the star became ill. This led to her first great triumph: the starring role of Fanny Brice in Funny Girl in 1966.
Her music theatre successes continued: I Do, I Do, No! No! Nanette, A Little Night Music, Annie, Chicago, Side By Side By Sondheim, Follies in Concert and the Australian musical When We are Married. In 1976 she played Gladys Zilch in Leading Lady, a show specially written for her.
Like her late sister, Diana, Jill is also a fine dramatic actress. Her credits include ’night Mother, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Gulls and Noises Off. In her home city, Perth, she has appeared in The One Day of the Year, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Love Letters, Wallflowering, The Man from Muckinupin and Dinkum Assorted. She has also performed dramatic roles on TV and film.
In 1995 Jill toured as Dolly Levi in a brand new production of Hello, Dolly!, with Warren Mitchell as Horace Vandergelder. In 1998 she created the role of Marion Woolnough in the original Australian production of The Boy from Oz.
Jill married dancer-choreographer Kevan Johnston in 1959. Their two children, Tod and Trudy, are both in show business. ‘I’ve been blessed all along the way,’ says Jill. ‘I wouldn't change anything. And I think it’s because I’ve been able to combine a career with my wonderful family.’
In 1978 Jill was awarded the MBE and in 1991 her service to the entertainment industry was recognised when she was made a Member of the Order of Australia. In 1995 she received the Golden Swan, acknowledging her contribution to theatre in Western Australia.