Albury Wodonga News

Musical Launched in New York City Featuring the Life of an Albury Girl

By Frances Key
Archived 14 Aug 2019 - Posted: 6 Jul 2019
Aussie Song by Frances Key
I'm a dual citizen of the USA and Australia and have written a musical based on my mother's life growing up in Australia and her immigration to the USA in WWII. The show was put on in Florida in 2009, and she was able to see if before she passed away the next year. This year, it was chosen by a festival in New York City for a new production, opening on September 30th at the Hudson Guild Theatre.

Link: New York Theater Festival

My mother, (Crystal) Teddy Trager was born in Albury in 1924.  Her family (Frank, Ann and Merle Trager)  moved away when she was still young, living in a number of towns in NSW, but returned there when she was about 14.  She attended St. Joseph's Catholic School as a boarder for several years and was known for her beautiful singing voice.   The house she was born in was across the street from the school, visible to her from the dormitory balcony!  Today there's a store where the house once stood.

I was able to visit Albury in 2014 and look into the dorm where she had lived, stand on that balcony, and walk the streets of your lovely town.  I also arrived and departed at the train station she did, then crossed the outback to Perth just as she had done.

Her family moved to Perth when she was 16 and she entered the University of Perth to study to become a teacher.  During World War II, American sailors were stationed in the yacht club there.  One of those sailors was my father, Raymond Key.  While flying a mission against the Japanese in 1942, his plane was shot down over the Timor Sea.  He and three other men spent two weeks in a life raft and were eventually rescued by the Australian Navy.  He was taken to an apartment in Perth near the University and met my mother who was visiting her family for the Christmas holidays.  The rest was history, in the truest sense of that word!

After marrying Ray in 1943, Teddy crossed the Pacific on the USS Butner, a perilous journey as it was in the middle of the war. There were 30 war brides and 5,000 American troops on that ship!  They zigzagged to avoid the Japanese submarines and had total blackouts at night.

She arrived in California and continued on to Texas where she met her new, very "country"  Texan relatives, a real culture shock indeed!  She made many of her dreams come true in the USA, but never forgot her Australian roots. Her mother and sister joined her eventually, but her father, Francis (Frank) Joseph Trager, passed away in Young, NSW.

These events are portrayed in the musical, along with an exploration of both cultures and the mixed feelings people had about the war brides of WWII.  It is a painful, poignant, and powerful story that preserves the life of a family who are so symbolic of that time and place.

My goal is to bring AUSSIE SONG to Australia someday.  Thank you for sharing the story and helping the show to sing again!

Frances Key

This article archived 14 Aug 2019

Age 18
Age 85, her arm around the little girl and woman who played her as a child and adult at the first showing of Aussie Song ten years ago. A theatre in Florida (Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre) put it on, and she was able to see her life on stage before she passed away the next year.
Her wedding in Perth (her father Frank Trager is in the background). It was a double wedding with a couple by the last name of Yoemans.
Teddy with her friend Sylvia in Sydney before boarding the USS Butner at Sydney Harbor to set sail for America
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