Nancye Hayes OAM 1943

Nancye Hayes

Young Nancye, born in Sydney in 1943, turned out to be not only a superb dancer, but a fine singer, actor, choreographer, director and teacher.

Nancye got her big break in 1967 when Williamson’s starred her in Sweet Charity.

While her music theatre credits continued, Nancye successfully tackled drama. She made her ‘straight’ debut in Born Yesterday in 1971.

Over the years she has added lustre to many home-grown musicals

In 2008 she won a Helpmann Award® for her portrayal of Mrs Higgins in Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady.

 

When she was a child, Nancye Hayes had a serious hip problem.

‘When I was being taken into the operating theatre,’ she recalls, ‘the doctor asked, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” and I said, “A ballerina.” Then he said, “Well, I’ll have to do a very good job.’”

Young Nancye, born in Sydney in 1943, turned out to be not only a superb dancer, but a fine singer, actor, choreographer, director and teacher.

She studied dance with Hazel Meldrum and strutted her stuff in amateur musicals, until, aged 18, she won a place in the chorus of My Fair Lady. In 1963 she understudied and eventually took over the role of Hedy LaRue in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Then came Hello, Dolly! and The Boys from Syracuse for J.C. Williamson’s, and Kiss Me, Kate, Brigadoon, Annie Get Your Gun and Little Me at Menzies Theatre Restaurant in Sydney.

Nancye got her big break in 1967 when Williamson’s starred her in Sweet Charity. She was an instant sensation.

After that, the musicals rolled merrily along – Dames at Sea, Promises, Promises, Cabaret, Pippin, Irene, Nine, Sweeney Todd, Chicago, Annie, 42nd Street, Guys and Dolls, Follies in Concert, Showboat, Mack and Mabel in Concert – and, of course, Merrily We Roll Along, for which she created preliminary choreography

Says Nancye: ‘When people ask me how many musicals I’ve been in, I’m too apprehensive to even count them!’

While her music theatre credits continued, Nancye successfully tackled drama. She made her ‘straight’ debut in Born Yesterday in 1971, going on to appear in Danton’s Death, Same Time, Next Year, Going Home, Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi, The Glass Menagerie, Steel Magnolias and Stepping Out. Her cabaret show, Nancye with an E, toured Australia in 1992.

Over the years she has added lustre to many home-grown musicals, including On the Wallaby, Songs from Sideshow Alley, The Venetian Twins, The Conquest of Carmen Miranda, Summer Rain, Jonah Jones and Eureka! and choreographed Errol Flynn’s Great Big Adventure Book for Boys. In 2009 she appeared in Metro Street, which premiered in Adelaide and opened the Daegu International Musical Festival in South Korea.

Nancye’s directorial credits include Crazy for You, The World Goes Round, Australia’s Leading Ladies in Concert, The Wizard of Oz, The Three Divas and Annie, plus Gypsy, Sweet Charity and The Boy from Oz for The Production Company. She also guides music theatre students at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. ‘I love it,’ she says. ‘I love seeing the young performers; getting to know them and passing on the passion.’

In 2006-2007 Nancye toured Australia with Todd McKenney in the enormously successful Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. In 2008 she won a Helpmann Award® for her portrayal of Mrs Higgins in Opera Australia’s My Fair Lady. Last year she appeared as Madame Armfeldt in OA’s A Little Night Music. This year she is touring with Reg Livermore in Turns, a piece written by Livermore to showcase their respective talents.

Nancye has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Variety Club, the Green Room Awards Association and the Sydney Theatre Awards. In 1981 her services to the performing arts were recognised with the Medal of the Order of Australia.

 

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