Mangalore's Matt Aldridge takes over from Nagambie's John Murphy as the lead role in the annual Beechworth weekend.CHALPAT SONTI March 12, 2014 4:58am
It seems Matt Aldridge was always destined to play Ned Kelly — and now he has got his wish on one of the biggest stages of all.
Mr Aldridge, of Mangalore, has been chosen to take over as the outlaw for the Ned Kelly Weekend in Beechworth in August. He replaces Nagambie resident John Murphy, who has stepped down from the role — and we might even see some of Mr Aldridge’s work locally now.
Mr Aldridge has been a member of the Beechworth Historical Re-enactment Group for about two-and-a-half years and has played the hapless Jerilderie bank manager and various other small parts at the annual weekend.
‘‘When John decided he would take a step back and the group were looking for a new Ned, I put my hand up,’’ he said.
Mr Aldridge, who works at the Limerick Lane thoroughbred property, only started growing his beard in earnest about a year ago ‘‘much to the wife’s disgust’’.
He joined the re-enactment group after a trip there when he made himself available for anything it needed.
‘‘I’ve always had an interest in Ned, mum’s always had the Ned Kelly armour and we’ve always been very passionate about him,’’ Mr Aldridge said.
And the picture on this page is proof of that, taken when he was a prep. But despite that, he has a lot to learn about his new role.
‘‘There’s a lot that everyone knows but a lot of things haven’t been discovered and as you go on you hear more and more stories about different things,’’ he said.
Helping ‘‘Bluey’’ Shelton cut hay brought a bonus — Mr Shelton, whose family is intimately connected with the Kelly story, lent Mr Aldridge some books, while he has also met some of Kelly’s descendants.
The main thing he has to do is learn the scripts from the Beechworth and Melbourne Gaol trials and ensure he’ll be in character at all times during the weekend. He has had some experience watching Mr Murphy — ‘‘we used to bounce off each other travelling up there at weekends and he probably gave me the feel of the Irish passion and the Irish way of life’’ — and there might be a few trial runs in our region.
‘‘We’ve got a few things in the pipeline and we’re also hoping to get Beechworth packed again,’’ Mr Aldridge said.
‘‘From my point of view it’s just a privilege to play him and represent him.’’
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