Albury should be honouring its biggest stage and screen star Richard Roxburgh by renaming theatre in QEII Square.

THINK of big names from Albury and you tend to immediately reach for sporting luminaries such as Olympic basketballer Lauren Jackson or AFL premiership player Brett Kirk.

Leave it to Cleaver: Richard Roxburgh in Rake mode, portraying the edgy barrister inspired by fellow Albury product Charles Waterstreet.

Leave it to Cleaver: Richard Roxburgh in Rake mode, portraying the edgy barrister inspired by fellow Albury product Charles Waterstreet.

Harking further back you might recall triple Brownlow medallist Haydn Bunton and record-winning Grand Slam tennis player Margaret Court.

In their own ways they have been admirable advertisements for the vigour of growing up in a bush town turned regional city.

But the biggest cultural influence from Albury in the past 25 years is not known for swinging a racquet or booting a Sherrin.

Instead Richard Roxburgh has animated cinema screens and television sets with acting that has netted Logie and AFI awards.

The youngest of six children Roxburgh grew up in Albury in the 1960s and 1970s.

“It taught me to move fast when the dinner hits the table or you'll miss the lot,” he told The Border Mail in 2004.

“But it also meant that I always knew whom I could rely on if things got ugly – your family if you're lucky and I am.”

Roxburgh found his way to the National Institute of Dramatic Art and then exploded into public conscientiousness.

Filling a role originally meant for Bryan Brown, Roxburgh’s intense portrayal of fallen cop Roger Rogerson in Blue Murder saw him acclaimed.

It came at a time before Underbelly hit small screens, when the travails of country policing in the fictional Mount Thomas made Blue Heelers our most popular television show.

Roxburgh then took his talents to the big screen, appearing in movies such as Moulin RougeThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Van Helsing.

But his greatest impact has arguably come through a television show which is about a Sydney lawyer but has Albury undertones.

Rake tracks the life of Cleaver Greene, a barrister with a web of personal dramas who was modelled on Albury-raised advocate and bon vivant Charles Waterstreet.

The greatest reference to Border life though is in Greene’s first name which is an oblique pointer to Albury’s longest-serving mayor Cleaver Bunton.

“It was an homage but in terms of character, Cleaver Greene is the polar opposite to Cleaver Bunton, the man who ran Albury with an iron fist,” Roxburgh told The Border Mail in 2010.

In recent times, Roxburgh has turned his hand to writing for children, penning and illustrating Artie and the Grime Wave with its plot influenced by his Border childhood.

The affection the actor has for his birthplace is evident in his interviews, whether speaking recently at the Byron Writers Festival or to ABC television interviewer Peter Thompson in 2009.

“Albury was a great place to grow up in,” Roxburgh told him.

“It was a beautiful little town.

“There was a river, the beautiful Murray River, you’d have beautiful swims in summertime.”

With such a fine ambassador, why not recognise him in renaming Albury Entertainment Centre’s largest venue the Richard Roxburgh Theatre?

It would be a terrific tribute and inspiration for youngsters that grace the stage at the Albury Wodonga Eisteddfod each year, just as the Lauren Jackson stadium name and foyer display spurs junior basketballers.

If Mount Gambier can salute ballet ace Robert Helpmann with an eponymous theatre and Perth can boast the Heath Ledger Theatre for filmdom’s The Joker it shouldn’t be hard to mark our fictional Cleaver.    

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