Rhonda Burchmore has been singing and dancing for more than 35 years. She has performed in more musicals than we could list, popped up on shows like Kath & Kim, released seven albums and picked up an Order of Australia medal for her contributions to the arts. Her next performance will be at Melbourne’s Hawthorn Arts Centre on 11 December, where she will take the stage for a set of Christmas classics with The Jack Earle Big Band.
The entertainer’s career started early, she was just nine when she began appearing on variety shows like Hey Hey It’s Saturday. Burchmore’s parents would dutifully record every TV gig on VHS tape – a medium that sadly hasn’t survived the decades.
Here, the Sydney-born star tells us about the heartbreak of those lost tapes, as well as the stories behind two other important personal belongings.
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What I’d save from my house in a fire
Since I was two years old, my mother would make all my dance costumes. She would spend the entire family budget on the finest fabrics and trimmings to sew my little outfits.
When I was about six, I used to perform a song and dance called Little White Bull where I was dressed as a Spanish matador. The dress she sewed was made of the finest velvet and embellished with Swarovski crystals and gold braid. This routine was an absolute winner at all the dance competitions and eisteddfods.
I still have the outfit I wore for that performance and treasure it, even more so now that my mum is no longer with me.
My most useful object
My trusty Dyson vacuum cleaner. I live in a very old Victorian home with high ceilings, which means there is always a lot of dust falling. I also have two poodles running around inside constantly.
I’ve never been one to like housework and I don’t have a cleaner, but I actually get quite a buzz out of vacuuming. I put on my favourite tunes, or songs that I need to learn for my shows, and zip around the house dancing with the stick.
The item I most regret losing
When I was young, my parents recorded every television performance I ever did. Mum would set her VHS and every song and dance I busted out on fabulous variety shows like Mike Walsh, Don Lane, Bert Newton or Hey Hey It’s Saturday was recorded and filed away in boxes.
I didn’t really realise until … it was too late that the quality of all these tapes had eroded over time.
I’ve been in touch with the television stations and all their copies of these shows have been erased as well. I have a few that I managed to salvage to DVD, but most of them have unfortunately been lost.