John Watson will make his stage debut in Maitland on Friday night, six months after surprising his teenage daughter by trying out for a show she was performing in.
John, a former mechanic who owns an earth-moving business, had sung in the choir at St Patrick's primary school in Cessnock and at Maitland Marist Brothers.
He had also belted out the occasional karaoke tune, but when Maitland Musical Society director Paul Causley suggested he audition for a production of Wizard of Oz Retro, he was well outside his comfort zone.
Daughter Lucy, a 14-year-old student at Hunter School of Performing Arts, auditioned for the show in April, but she didn't know her father was also trying out.
"I said, 'Can we keep it a surprise for Lucy?'" John told Topics on the eve of opening night at St John's Pro Cathedral in Maitland.
"Lucy and I were actually singing karaoke in the car. We always put a song on in the car and we sing it together. We were singing the song that I auditioned [Ed Sheeran's Photograph] on the way in.
"She had her audition and they said, 'Lucy, we've got someone else coming in to do an audition. They're a little bit nervous. Could you sit around in the back corner and tell us what you think?'
"She sat in the corner and they started the music and Angie, the musical director, videoed Lucy, and she gets a surprised look on her face.
"Angie says, 'Do you know who it is?' She had this glow on her face. She knew her father was there and her father was there to audition.'"
Joining the cast was an act of love for John, who wanted to share something with his daughter after spending three years helping out with older son Max's football team.
"Not in a million years would any of his family or friends anticipate that he would be involved in musical theatre," John's wife, Vera, said.
"Given they were short on adult males, John decided to help them out. He thought they would give him a minor role, such as a tree holding an apple. Instead, he has a main vocal role performing as King Pastoria."
John will sing a solo and a duet with the Wicked Witch of the West.
"I've never had any experience in singing, but I'm always one to get up at karaoke nights ... before I've had a drop of alcohol."
"Someone wouldn't go into it if they didn't have some sort of passion for singing."
He said his mates regarded his belated musical adventure as "very brave".
"They know that I'm not shy. They think it's good I'm getting involved."
The show plays in Maitland on Friday and Saturday nights plus a Sunday matinee before travelling to Dungog the following weekend and Raymond Terrace on November 30 and December 1.
Couples stick out
Wickham's famous pole has inspired selfies, memes, a Twitter account and national media attention.
Now it has become a shrine to love.
Resourceful Newcastle marriage celebrant Kez Tippett advertised on Facebook last week for couples to "renew your vows, have a quick commitment ceremony or have a professional photo with the pole" on Friday after 5pm in aid of the John Hunter Children's Hospital.
It is a measure of the pole's pulling power that two couples have signed up.
Spontaneous Mayfieldites Ellen and Kevin will have a brief commitment ceremony at 5.45pm today, and Kez is calling on Novocastrians to turn up as "honorary bridesmaids and groomsmen".
"We're planning to put them in front of the pole and we've got a photographer," Kez said.
"It's going to be a three-minute ceremony full of lots of puns.
"They'll get a certificate and have some photos."
Ellen said she thought the idea was "hilarious" when she saw it advertised on Facebook.
"I said to Kevin, 'This will be really funny.' And he said, 'No, that's ridiculous.' He's going along with it, the poor bugger.
"We like to do stuff that's fun. Instead of saying, 'We should have done this,' or, 'We should have done that,' we just do it."
The pole, which Newcastle council left in the middle of Albert Street after recent roadworks, has appealed to Ellen's sense of the absurd.
"It's absolutely ridiculous. We're an international laughing stock.