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‘I really had to work for it’: Courtney Act on loving – and performing – Olivia Newton-John

The drag queen will perform in a 22-song Newton-John tribute alongside the full force of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra – though it’s taken years to get here

Courtney Act, the acclaimed drag queen who goes by Shane Jenek when out of the frocks, was in a *** bar in the US when he heard Olivia Newton-John had died. “I wasn’t in drag, but I just felt like I had to get on stage and sing Xanadu,” Jenek says.

It is one of his favourite songs to sing – and not just because it is a *** classic or one of Newton-John’s most recognisable hits. “It’s also dear to my heart because it’s one of those songs that taught me that you can learn to perform a song,” he says. “I really had to work for it. I first performed it in 2004 with a live band and I didn’t like it – maybe I didn’t have the zing for the crowd or the tempo, I’m not sure – but when I had another shot and did it again, it just worked and everything fell into place.”

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