I'm keen to get your feedback on any of my projects; and let me know if you'd like to be included on my mailing list.

Paperback Hero


Paperback Hero is a 1999 Australian comedy film starring Claudia Karvan, Hugh Jackman, Angie Milligan and Jeannie Drynan. It was directed by Antony Bowman who also wrote the screenplay.
The film was predominantly shot in Queensland including Nindigully.
Icon/Dendy will re-release the film in July, 2017

< Back

Paperback Hero

Dates: 01/03/2017 - 01/10/2018

Location: Musical

Paperback Hero



A musical based on the film and novel Paperback Hero by Antony J Bowman

Book & Lyrics by John Senczuk
Original songs by Tim Cunniffe

Reality and fiction - and romantic triangles - collide in this romantic musical comedy of errors. But as the scenario of Jack’s book - “Bird in the Hand” - unravels, storybook happy endings aren’t necessarily guaranteed ... Jack and Ruby have a secret so closely guarded, they haven’t even told themselves ...

Dramaturgically, Paperback Hero employs the structural device of the mise en abîme - a play-within-a-play - where the physical presentation of Jack’s novel, Bird in the Hand, alludes to and explicates the plot of the larger narrative: the author’s unresolved relationship with Ruby Vale. Both rely variously and heavily on standard romantic and situation comedy tropes in what is fundamentally a ‘maturation’ or ‘coming of age’ plot.
The mise en abîme is an intriguing literary contrivance and has been exploited rarely but effectively in a number of art forms: on stage, famously in Hamlet (The Mousetrap), but also in (Christopher Sly’s prologue in The Taming of the Shrew [the play works so much better in performance if this framework is maintained!]); contemporary musicals like The King and I (the “Uncle Tom” ballet sequence) and Kiss Me Kate;  and Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci. In film: The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Pedro Almodóvar’s Talk to Her (Benigno story of he Shrinking Lover) and Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds are a few examples. In the visual arts, one may also think of the convex mirrors in the paintings of the Flemish Renaissance, notably at the back of the Arnolfini Betrothal by Jan Van Eyck or in a more sophisticated form in Velázquez Las Meninas.

The unique proposition is that the score be a combination of original songs (referencing 1920s Palm Court Jazz) for the Bird In the Hand sequences and a ‘juke-box’ selection of 90s Country Rock/Pop (featuring Jack’s favourite singer Roy Orbison). Orbison’s ‘I Drove All Night’ is the show’s theme song.!

Jack Willis is a long-haul truck driver, he’s also just written a ‘romance novel’ “Bird in the Hand” and its Brisbane publisher Ziggy Kean thinks that it could explode internationally. Jack, however, has used the name of his best mate Ruby Vale - owner of the Boomerang Cafe in remote Lucktown - as his pen name. When the glamorous city publisher shows up to sign Ruby Vale to the deal, Jack must do some fancy footwork to keep up the charade, including convincing Ruby to play along. Ruby is otherwise preoccupied with her attempts to sell the cafe in preparation for her upcoming marriage to Jack’s best friend and local vet Hamish. She is furious but eventually, albeit reluctantly, agrees to
cover for him when Jack suggests that the publishers might pay for her wedding. Jack acts as Ruby’s agent, signs the international contract and agrees to bring her to Brisbane for a pre-Christmas launch. Ruby’s fiancé Hamish is surprised, but goes along with Ruby’s plan.
On the long drive into Brisbane, Ruby reads “Bird in the Hand” and episode from the novel literally play out in her mind: she can’t help but see herself as the heroine and that Jack has also referenced himself and even Hamish as her fictional lovers. She is confused but significantly touched by what she’s read of his story.
In Brisbane Ruby meets the team at Archer Publications and then ensconced in a fabulous hotel overlooking the Botanic Gardens. But, like two fish out of water, and out of their depth, Jack and Ruby are drawn closer together as they cope with all the media attention of a whirlwind publicity tour. Ralph, Ziggy’s rival, is suspicious of Ruby, but the owner Errol Archer is captivated by her naiveté. It’s agreed that Ruby is to be guest of honour at their Twenties Themed Christmas gala at Sandgate Beach Pavilion.
While Ruby chooses her outfit for the evening, Jack joins Ziggy on a trip to Sandgate during which they discuss Ruby and “Bird in the Hand”. Ziggy flirts with Jack, but he fumbles the situation miserably. Ziggy then confront him with her suspicion that he, not Ruby, is the author. He is relieved that the truth is out, but Ziggy - whose career hinges on the book being an international success - has other ideas: he’s forged her signature; taken money under false pretenses; as well as a litany of other fraudulent acts! She insists he continue the deception and is very keen to learn the title of his
next book!
Ruby feels guilty about deceiving Hamish,and has second thoughts about attending the Launch, but she changes her mind at the last minute and, arriving late, makes a spectacular entrance looking ravishing. Jack suddenly realises
that he hasn’t really ‘noticed’ how beautiful his ‘best mate’ actually is. Back in Lucktown, Hamish, has read the book, suspects immediately that it is Jack not Ruby who’s written it and speeds out of town heading towards Brisbane.
At the ABC studios just as she is about to go on a satellite feed to a London interview, Hamish confronts Ruby; he knows everything. He tells her that he will stay for as long as it takes him to have a cup of tea in the cafe across the
road. While she has conflicted feelings, Ruby makes the decision to go back to Lucktown with Hamish.
With the ‘literary hoax’ exposed, Ziggy is fired, but rather than dwell on the situation, she goes into damage control. Jack is crestfallen: his simple white lie has ruined peoples’ lives. Some months later back in Lucktown, Ruby and Hamish prepare for their wedding. In Brisbane, meanwhile, Ziggy launches her new publishing company and the debut romantic novel by an exciting new writer Jack Willis: it’s called “The Boomerang Cafe”, a fascinating insight into bush life and the romantic entanglement between a long haul truck driver and his best mate, a country vet, who have both fallen for an independent and spirited young female crop duster. Hamish hears the interview on the television and realises that Jack is in love with Ruby. He cancels the wedding and leaves town. The abandoned wedding guests at the Boomerang Cafe are a maudlin lot until they become away of the tell-tale screech of Jack’s rig pulling up outside. As he enters, Ruby throws herself into his arms … Factual and fictional couples share the denouement wedding celebrations!

BIRD IN THE HAND by “Ruby Vale”
A brilliant debut historical romance novel from Ruby Vale. Set in the 20’s and cast between the contrasting worlds of Brisbane’s bohemians and their glamorous counterparts whose playgrounds are the exquisite mansions on Wickham Terrace, the Bellevue Hotel. Gerald Silverton - the adventurer and playboy - is the heir to the Silverton & Son retail empire. Unwilling to rise to his father’s expectation divides his time between motoring out to enjoy the quiet serenity and
incredible views from his Clear Mountain Lodge or the increasingly popular social hub at the beachside Sandgate Pavilion. Fortunes change and tregedy appears inevitable the moment Rupert Coburn, who grew up in the expansive gardens of the Silverton family home tended by his father, introduces Gerald to his muse and lover, the vibrant and beautiful Tivoli dancer Peaches Mingary. Gerald is smitten and Rupert soon becomes the third
wheel in this palm court ménage à trois!