Set in the late 1940s, the narrative unfolds in and around the outback community of Murrumbilla. At the Sunday School Break-up Picnic we meet the town's personalities, most notably Smiley, an irrepressible larrikin kid with a spontaneous zest for life, who regularly creates havoc by determining to give anything a go! His on-going conflicts with Mrs Gaspen, the self appointed pillar of local society, are most often arbitrated by Police Sergeant Flaxman who, like most residents, tolerates Smiley's impulsive enthusiasm for the whimsical because of the inevitably humorous consequences. In such a harsh environment laughter is a valuable contribution to the rough, homespun texture of daily life. Smiley's father is away droving and, when he is in town, spends most of his time at Rankin's Hotel. His mother is faced with raising Smiley single-handed. She works long and hard to do the best she can, and, as events evolve, comes to rely on the support that the townspeople are able to offer. When Smiley's obsession with owning a bicycle is thwarted by the unexpected return of his father, he is confronted with a complexity of challenges. All eyes watch to see if this "menace to society" has the grit to act responsibly and unselfishly.
The show evokes classic images including a picnic under shady river gums, a bush shack, the country pub, the general store and turns on a bush fire and the breaking of the drought. (ctd. David Spicer Productions, q.v.)
The musical includes Clyde Collins' 1956 hit "A Little Boy Called Smiley," which was inspired by the first film. The other thirteen original songs are from contemporary composers David Cocker, Mark Jones and Lance Strauss. The musical numbers range through bush folk, 1940s swing, country blues, and romantic and pop ballads.
A cast soundtrack was produced in 2004 and is available through David Spicer Productions.
1992: Redcliffe Entertainment Centre, Brisbane (Qld); no details.
ca. 1992: Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton; no details.
Entries connected with this record have been sourced from on-going historical research into Australian music-film, theatre and television being conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.