Justine Clarke is a creative force. She’s the gently spoken and long running presenter of Play School, the host of the lively Justine Clarke Show, an author of four children’s picture books, and most recently, the voice of Maya the Bee in The Honey Games movie.
But Justine is perhaps best known as the award-winning children’s music artist – singing to generations of Australian kids about watermelons, dinosaurs and the simple joys of life, like singing and dancing.
“After releasing my first album [I like to sing] in 2005, I was so thrilled and proud that it was out there,” she said.
“But I could never have imagined that 13 years later I’d be again about to embark on a national tour opening at the Opera House Concert Hall.”
The Silly Songs Tour, which opens nationally in September, will feature new music from her television show and fourth album, as well as old favourites.
“I really wanted this tour to focus on what kids can do at home and how it can be easy to create a song at home and then to come to the concert and to sing along; just to enjoy being in a big room with a whole lot of other people and hearing everybody singing together,” Justine enthused.
Like many of her young fans, Justine can remember putting shows on at home with her sister, which inspired the format of The Justine Clarke Show.
“When I was five years old, I would say to my sister, ‘let’s put on a show’ and ten minutes later, we’d be doing the show. We wouldn’t know what we were doing, we’d just put it on,” she laughed.
“We went in with this great sense of confidence and trust that it was all going to work out. So that’s why I thought ‘five minutes until show time’ was a good amount for The Justine Clarke Show, because that’s about all the preparation a five-year-old puts in!”
While still a child, Justine made her acting debut as Anna Goanna in Mad Max, followed by the character of Roo Stewart in Home and Away. Numerous film and television gigs followed, but it was Justine who sought out a job on Play School, asking her agent to arrange an audition.
“I’d look at the actors that were on Play Schooland think that they were really good,” Justine explained. “I thought – I want to be on that show because it’s where all the good actors go.”
But Justine said the desire to be on Play Schoolwas also because she felt it was such an “honest” and well-respected show for children.
“Play School has been so well protected by early childhood advisors who always put the child’s rights first and see the child as a complex being,” Justine said.
“And the fact that it’s on our national broadcaster and there’s no commercials means you never feel like you’re a commodity. I think those things are really important.”
Unable to choose a favourite co-host (think Alex Papps, Teo Gebert, Rhys Muldoon and Jay Laga’aia), Justine settled on a favourite toy instead.
“Humpty is my favourite because he’s just funny,” she said. “His face is funny, and when you animate him, he makes you laugh.”
While teaming up with Humpty to entertain countless children on Play School over the past 19 years, Justine has been growing a family of her own, with husband and actor Jack Finsterer.
A busy mum of three – Joe (17), Nina (15) and Max (8) – Justine understands the juggle of family and career, creativity and practicality.
“My husband is doing a massive 6-and-a-half-hour play at the moment – The Harp in the South – and he’s been in rehearsals for 11 weeks. That basically means he’s not here at all and I’ve been doing pretty much everything,” she said.
“So that’s like up at six for lunches and shirts ironed and then someone needs to be driven and then we’ve got to do homework and all the usual morning routine.
“I try and jam in as much as I can between school hours, before pick up. And then there’s guitar and netball and swimming and whatever else. So just normal mum stuff really.”
It’s undoubtedly this down-to-earth approach and genuine humility that makes Justine so likeable, among both kids and adults. But what is in store next for this Aussie icon?
“Who knows what the future holds… I feel like this album and tour is a real culmination of a lot of years of work and I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. I feel like maybe this is the beginning of a new chapter. But at the moment, I’m just working on ensuring that the tour is ready.”
As she munched on a banana, Justine said that keeping up the energy for back to back live shows was easy given the demographics of her audience.
“Even if you’re feeling tired… as soon as you hear that excited rabble in the auditorium, there’s such an energy to it. I feed off that energy. It’s infectious and it’s joyous and it’s funny; it’s really funny. They’re hilarious when they’re all together [the kids]. They talk to each other, they heckle and then you hear their wobbly little voices – they’re the best audience.”
JUSTINE CLARKE – Silly Songs Tour 2018
Buy tickets here.
- SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, SYDNEY SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 22 @ 10am
- SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, SYDNEY SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 22 @ 12pm
- HAMER HALL, MELBOURNE SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 23 @ 10am
- HAMER HALL, MELBOURNE SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 23 @ 12pm
- REGAL THEATRE, PERTH SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 30 @ 10am
- REGAL THEATRE, PERTH SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 30 @ 12pm
- CANBERRA THEATRE, CANBERRA SATURDAY OCTOBER 6 @ 10am
- CANBERRA THEATRE, CANBERRA SATURDAY OCTOBER 6 @12pm
- QPAC CONCERT HALL, BRISBANE SUNDAY OCTOBER 7 @ 10am
- THEBARTON THEATRE, ADELAIDE SATURDAY OCTOBER 13 @10am
- SECOND SYDNEY, PERTH & CANBERRA SHOWS ON SALE 10AM TODAY, TUESDAY JULY 3
All shows on sale now.
For complete tour and ticket information including groups tickets, visit:
If you want to WIN 1 x family pass (admission for four) to any show in the nearest capital city, follow the simple instructions below:
- In the comments below, describe a show you put on as a child
Giveaway ends 19 September 2018. Read the full Terms & Conditions.