Christmas in July           
"A Christmas Carol"
7.30pm Saturday 25 July
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Hello <<First Name>>,

Have you seen Time Stands Still yet? Our current production is going very well with audiences engrossed in this thought-provoking piece. We have a great cast, set and production team, so all the right ingredients. Having almost sold out the season for this show an extra matinee performance was scheduled for last Sunday. Check out Jennifer Paragreen's review in this edition of Cues & News. The director and cast have been receiving wonderful feedback about their performances. This is great because several of the cast have been struggling through with the throat and chest infections which are plaguing Melbourne this winter. Even more cause to congratulate these troupers!

Don't forget our annual Christmas in July coming up on Saturday 25 July. This promises to be the usual load of fun and this year with a playreading of that Christmas favourite A Christmas Carol but not quite as you will remember it!

Social Media users will have noticed the recent proliferation of the Facebook initiated rainbow filter that so many people applied to their Profile picture, indeed over 26 million globally. As is often the case with such campaigns, they can move into 'over kill' territory and perhaps such was the case with the rainbow filters. Here's some interesting commentary from the Los Angeles Times on the subject CLICK HERE. Despite all that, Williamstown Little Theatre posted its own variation on the rainbow filter which appeared on our Facebook page at the height of the filter burst. If you missed it, here it is.


Apologies for any confusion over the date of Cordell Day 2015 as published in the June Cues & News. The correct date and time is Sunday 13 December from 5.30pm. Pop the date in your diaries.



Contrary to usual practice our Open Rehearsal for Buffalo Gal will commence at 4.30pm (not 3.30pm) on Sunday 9 August - please note this in your diaries.
Click on any of the following links to go straight to the article of your choice.

Diary Dates

Bump out Time Stands Still
Tuesday 21 July from about 5.30/6.00pm
Dinner provided

Set Construction Buffalo Gal
Commences: Saturday 25 July 1pm and each Saturday following until completed
Contact  Brian Christopher for details if you are interested 0458 134 469

Christmas in July
Saturday 25 July 7.30pm - details elsewhere

Over the River and Through the Woods
By Joe DiPietro
Director: Helen Ellis

Auditions: Monday 27 July from 7.15pm - details elsewhere

Season: 19 November - 6 December

Buffalo Gal
By A.R. Gurney
Director: George Werther

Open Rehearsal: Sunday 9 August 4.30pm

Season: 10-26 September

Time Stands Still

Current production ends Saturday 18 July

This midyear, the third of our 2015 productions has been very rewarding with audiences reacting so warmly to this "terrific play" as Director, Ellis Ebell describes it. Ellis applies his "terrific" adjective equally to the cast, the back stage crew, the script, the set, indeed everything to do with the production. He notes that the cast have developed a fantastic relationship and get on so well which is reflected in their performances.

Some audience comments have included; "Such an intelligent script, well handled." and "The set is well designed and well used." As is often the case audiences love the running water which features throughout this production!

An audience member, Lorna McLeod, posted this comment on our website and we thank her for this feedback.

What joy to view such a talented performance. Each production leaves me in awe of every aspect, scenery, lighting, sound, direction, professionalism and the intensity of the performers. Last night's performance of Time Stands Still was a standout in all aspects. Truly worthy of top awards. Each character appeared to give their all and we appreciate every effort. I have inadequate words to express how much I applaud you all. Thank you and look forward to next performance.

The success of any play is partly bound up in the audience response to the presentation. Noteworthy with Time Stands Still has been the observation of how absorbed and engrossed the audience seem to be. After some scenes there is complete silence as people digest what had just gone before.

Time Stands Still Review


Williamstown Little Theatre
Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies 
Directed by Ellis Ebell
Performance - Friday 10 July 2015 (Middle week)
Reviewer – Jennifer Paragreen



Time Stands Still is set in a New York loft in 2009 / 2010, a time contemporaneous with its writing.  In a sense time has stood still with the background situation of wars and bombings in the Middle East and extreme poverty in Africa being still very much part of the current landscape, giving it an immediacy which hooks the audience.

The exotic back story of journalistic feats in far flung places ranging from Sierra Leone and the Sudan to Kurdistan, including horrific events in Iraq, is secondary to the exploration of the relationship between photojournalist, Sarah, and her reporter partner, James, combined with some extra insights supplied by the seemingly unlikely pairing of their editor and friend, Richard, and his much younger new partner, Mandy

Ellis Ebell’s assured direction enabled the audience to appreciate the thought processes, flaws and foibles of the four protagonists and also to consider some of the issues of 21st Century journalism with the dangers of reporting from conflict zones, who gets to choose what will ultimately be reported and whether journalists are merely exploiting “the suffering of strangers”.

The context of the play was intelligently introduced with an evocative opening sequence and sounds of roadside bombings gradually morphing into the noise of New York traffic. 

Newly arrived back in New York, Sarah is the dominant character in the play.  Pauline Constantine’s performance establishes Sarah as a talented, dedicated and determined careerist used to being in charge of her own destiny even when she is suddenly physically incapacitated by a roadside bomb.  Her lustrous voice conveyed her determination to get on with life despite this setback. Almost her first concern on arrival in her loft apartment is “Where are my cameras?” She longs to get the recuperation process over quickly so that she can get back to work.  She can be scathing and caustic but there are occasional flashes of tenderness and concern as we hear when she describes her “fixer”, Tariq, to Mandy

James’ scars and injuries are psychological rather than physical and all the more insidious as a result. He suffered a nervous breakdown after being sprayed with blood and body parts when four innocent girls were gunned down in a market place in Mosul.  He was back in America when Sarah was injured and then suffered pangs of conscience that he had left her behind. Tim Constantine plays Jamie with an air of vulnerability as he desperately tries to assuage his guilt and to rekindle the relationship with Sarah. Unlike her, he would prefer to settle for a ‘normal’ life, reviewing science fiction movies rather than reporting on war torn countries.  Ultimately I had the impression that he needs her more than she needs him.  The poignant pauses in their final conversation reek of lost opportunities and the implication that, even though he says he is about to move on, it won’t be easy. 

Rowan Howard does a fine job of balancing the various aspects of Richard’s personality – defending his girlfriend, even when he understands why Sarah and James find her “lightweight”, and simultaneously rejoicing in her enthusiasm. We could also clearly see the conflict in balancing friendship and editorial decisions and the anguish they cause him.

As Mandy Stephanie Gonelli is delightfully pert, enthusiastic and bubbly.  Her joyful naïvity initially prompts many laughs but later she becomes almost the play’s moral compass as she questions whether journalists should consider helping rather than merely reporting.

Of course it is the conversations between various combinations of the four protagonists which give colour to the play.  One of the most effective scenes involved the increasing volume on the discussion with Richard about the placement of James’ article in his magazine while Mandy quietly rinsed dishes off to the side. The stilted conversation in the final scene dripped with sadness.

The play is confined to a single set but David Dare’s compact design and thoughtful set dressing provided us with a kitchenette, living room and double bed as well a front entrance and bathroom door all snugly fitted onto the Little Theatre stage. The angled loft window added an extra area of light which was complemented by two other windows.  The kitchen bench sneaked a little more space by having a circular end and featured a fully functioning sink and coffee making facility.  Dark turquoise doors on the overhead cupboards melted subtly into the background while several pieces of African memorabilia suggested their travels. Truly symbolic were two lights covered in a pattern resembling film sprockets and, particularly, the huge photographic poster of the blood splattered face of a woman, ostensibly publicity for a 2008 exhibition of Sarah’s work.   

Tony Tartaro’s costume design once again really augmented the actors’ characterisation. Mandy’s short red and blue outfit, complete with the dainty little bag was quite at odds with Sarah and James’ much more casual and practical attire and thus served to show how totally out of place they would consider her to be.

Praise should also go to the uncredited make-up artist who created Sarah’s Phantom of the Opera look which faded to a reddish blotch in the next scene and who assisted Rowan Howard in credibly adding years to his age to play a 55 year old. 

This production of Time Stands Still proved to be both interesting and entertaining with a strong cast supported by skilled and dedicated people working on every aspect of the production.  Thank you for providing your audience with something to think about and characters to care about and another fine theatrical event.

Jennifer Paragreen

In a lighter mood here's a few shots of director, cast and crew relaxing with a couple of opening night glasses of wine and some of Bernadette Wheatley and Alex Begg regular wonderful suppers.

Buffalo Gal

by A.R. Gurney
Director: George Werther

WLT is pleased to announce the cast of Buffalo Gal:

Roy             Gavin Williams

Debbie        Karolina Surawski

Jackie         Chris Perkins

Amanda      Venetia Macken

James         Roger Wilson

Dan             Ken McLeish

Welcome back to Gavin, last seen as the magnificently attired King Charles II in Compleat Female Stage Beauty; and Chris last seen in Come Back To the Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and prior to that Hate and Summer Of The Seventeenth Doll.

And a big welcome to Karolina, Venetia, Roger and Ken who will grace our boards for the first time.

Back L-R Gavin Williams, Roger Wilson, Ken McLeish 
Front Brian Christopher (Assistant Director/Production Coordinator), Karolina Surawski, Chris Perkins, Venetia Macken, George Werther (Director)

The play is directed by George Werther – himself no stranger to WLT (33 Variations and Hysteria), although this is his directorial debut at WLT.

Congratulations to this talented band of players who met on Sunday at George’s home to have their first read through. How great was that to hear the play voiced for the first time.

We are lucky to have a very talented production crew behind the cast as follows:

Director                George Werther

Asst Director        Brian Christopher

Design                  Laurice Banwell

Lighting Design     Maureen White

Sound Design       Patrick Slee and Neil Williamson

Costume               Shirley Sydenham and Kirsten Willoughby

Props                    Judi Clark

Prompt                  Robyn Legge

Stage Manager     Ness Harwood

Back: Gavin Williams, Ken Macleish, Venetia Macken, Shirley Sydenham (Costume Design) Kirsten Willoughby (Costume Assistant), Judi Clark (Props)                                                                                                            Front: BC, Karolina Surawski, Chris Perkins, Roger Wilson, George Werther, Patrick Slee (Sound Design)

We are still looking for an Operator and possibly an ASM (ASM? – a joke from Buffalo Gal. You’ll have to see the show to find out!). If there is anyone interested in filling these important roles please get in touch with me 0458 134 469.

The Open Rehearsal is scheduled for Sunday 9 August. Please note that due to cast work commitments this will be at the later time of 4:30 pm rather than 3:30 pm.

Brian Christopher
Production Coordinator



Over the River and Through the Woods

by Joe DiPietro
Director: Helen Ellis

Season: 19 November - 6 December

Audition date:
Monday 27 July from 7.15pm

Auditions by appointment only -
Contact Director, Helen Ellis

Please bring to the audition a completed Audition Form (CLICK HERE to download form) and a non-returnable headshot with name on the back, attached to the form.


Nick, a single, Italian-American man from New Jersey, has dinner every week with his two sets of grandparents, four Italian oldies who eat, talk, and argue, and whose lives centre around him. He is offered his dream job but it’s in Seattle. He is torn and the grandparental schemes to keep him in town, including introducing him to a nice young woman, cause him to have a panic attack that results in having to stay with them for a few days. This is when he really gets to know them. A witty and poignant play that addresses the issues of family expectations that change with each generation.


Nick Cristano… in his thirties

Frank Gianelli… Nick’s maternal grandfather, 80 years old

Aida Gianelli… Nick’s maternal grandmother, in her 70s

Nunzio Cristano… Nick’s paternal grandfather, in his 70s

Emma Cristano… Nick’s paternal grandmother, in her 70s

Caitlin O’Hare… Attractive and charming, in her late 20s

Ian Grealy - Eulogy

1948 - 2015

President of Williamstown Little Theatre, Peter Newling was one of the speakers at Ian Grealy’s funeral.  The following is taken from that eulogy, with permission.

I’ve been asked to talk about Ian the actor.

Through the week we received a lovely segue between Ian’s life as a teacher and his life in the theatre community. A long time friend, Mark, wrote of a rich, formative time in his childhood in Bathurst when Ian was a local maths teacher and a member of the Bathurst Players.  Through the theatre group, Ian became firm, lifelong friends with Mark’s mother, and ‘Sir Grealy’ as they affectionately called him, spent a great deal of time with the family at weekends and celebrations.  Ian was a wonderful role model for a teenager growing up in a one parent household and Mark expressed gratitude to Ian for being part of the family for so many years adding ‘You will be with us forever’

I buzzed an email out to a few chosen people who had directed Ian or worked with him on stage asking for their observations or insights into Ian the actor. The response was quite overwhelming. But three main themes really came to the fore……

Firstly, he was just a damn fine actor. A multiple award winning actor, Ian never shied away from some of the most difficult roles – both in terms of size, or complexity. He thrived in roles with enormous monologues, such as Hickey in The Iceman Cometh or the Inspector in Disposing of the Body and complex, emotional and multi dimensional characters like Alan Turing in Breaking the Code, Ken Harrison in Whose Life Is It Anyway or the slowly deteriorating genius Robert in Proof.  He was equally comfortable in comedic and dramatic roles.


One word that keeps coming up in people’s description of Ian the actor is that he was a perfectionist. He had a tendency to get a bit mad with himself if he wasn’t getting something exactly right – and there are numerous accounts of Ian staying behind after rehearsals to go over scenes again and again.


I recall a rehearsal for Rough Crossing, for which his portrayal of the hapless ship steward Dvornichek won him the Win Stewart Award at Williamstown. Ian was struggling to balance the many props he was expected to wrangle. During one of the rehearsals, when the props were not being his friend, he exited to behind the set and next thing we all hear this rather loud and quite effeminate ‘fuck’. Those of us on this side of the set smiled a bit at what was probably the shortest and least masculine tanty we’d ever heard and carried on. At the end of the rehearsal, when I was about to start giving notes, he stopped me and said, â€˜Can I say a few words before you start? I would just like to apologise to everyone for my appalling behaviour.’ It was met with a collective awwwwww.

And that leads us to the second theme that emerged. Ian was an absolute gentleman. An incredibly giving actor, his care for his cast mates on stage was always a direct reflection of his genuine care for people in real life.


Keith Hutton expressed this beautifully. He wrote to me:

I was touched with his care and compassion when we were doing Morning Departure together at WLT in 2013. Well into the rehearsal process, my mother became critically ill. I decided to travel to the UK to spend a few days with her. I arrived back in Melbourne with only two weeks before opening night and I was well behind with my lines. My mother died three days after my return. Ian was very supportive and caring towards me and remained so throughout the season, during which I was far from my best. 

At the end of the final performance, Ian was waiting in the wings as I came off and gave me a huge hug and said how proud of me he was given the emotional upset I was encountering. The point I make here is, he didn't have to say or do anything, but it revealed the compassionate and caring man he was and I appreciated the gesture so much. We've lost a lovely man and a fine actor.


But perhaps the thing people mentioned most often to me in their communications was his delightful, understated and slightly wicked sense of humour. Shirley Sydenham tells a story of when they were both performing at the Moomba Festival – so that dates them both for a start! Shirley won an award for a part she played. Ian came up to her afterward and said “I’m glad you won but I was hoping I would be the Queen of Moomba”.  Quiet, unassuming, self deprecating, hilarious.


Perhaps Janine Evans put it best when she wrote:

Ian was my favourite person to say naughty things to. He would look like a shocked choirboy for a second and then with a loud HA! He'd bray with laughter.

Warm, sensitive and endlessly talented, Ian bought so much more to a production than the beautiful work he did on stage. All of us involved in theatre in Melbourne will miss having this remarkable gentleman around.


Cue curtain. Slow fade to black. Music in. Lights up for curtain call. Bravo Mr Grealy. Good show.


And to bastardise a line from a card from Monica Greenwood, Mandy Murray and Katie Macfie:  


Hey Greals - chookas for the next act.

Two performance images of Ian, Morning Departure (left) and Proof (right)
For those with Facebook accounts, go to the WLT Facebook page and the 18 June announcement of Ian's passing to see an extensive range of comments honouring and remembering Ian.
Ian's Eulogy also appears with images in the NEWS section of our new website format launched this week. CLICK HERE to visit that page.

Christmas in July


Brrrr. Midwinter in Melbourne. But we’re past the solstice and the days are getting longer. At least they’re meant to be! Doesn’t feel like it first thing in the morning, does it?!

Well, our third season is up and firing and accumulating fantastic reviews from those who have seen it. The comments I keep hearing are ‘thought provoking’, ‘riveting’ and ‘brilliantly acted’. Congrats to Ellis, Emma and both the onstage and offstage teams. We’re really proud of this show.

It really doesn’t seem that long ago we were visiting Mr Green, does it? It always amazes me how quickly a production can come together. This time only 12 weeks ago, Ellis didn’t even have a cast yet. It’s a remarkably quick turn around from just having a script and a lot of ideas to having a paying audience and champers on opening night.

For those who haven’t had much to do with getting a show together, the auditions for the next show usually occur during the run of the current play – usually on the middle Sunday and Monday. So the cast for our next production, Buffalo Gal, has only recently been decided and announced – while the current season is still on. The director then only has about 20 rehearsals just with the actors before adding in the lights and sound.

In the meantime, the design team has less than three months to bring its ideas to reality. The costume designers begin the process of measuring, hunting and gathering as soon as the cast is announced. In fact it’s not unusual for a costume designer to come to the very first gathering of the cast, the first read through, to get started on their work. Set construction commences as soon as the design is agreed and they’ll usually have the skeleton of the set in place within a couple of weeks of rehearsals starting. Our set builders really do a remarkable job. Rehearsal props are located immediately and replaced with production props a couple of weeks before opening.

Cast usually puts their script away about half way through the rehearsal process (in theory) and that’s when the prompt’s work commences! The prompt is usually removed just before the two or three dress rehearsals in the lead up to opening. 

Two weeks before opening, we have the tech rehearsal where the sound and lighting design are realised and integrated with the performances. The backstage crew, by this time, is busily figuring out how best to make the scene changes work and where to store the props for easy access. Spare a thought for the backstage crew and the lighting/sound operators. While the cast gets about 20 rehearsals they get four or five goes to get it right! They’re a remarkable breed!

It all gets a bit frantic as opening night approaches, but as they say, “It’ll be alright on the night” – and it usually is. 

Theatre is such a temporary art form: within 4 months it goes from empty space to performance then back to empty space. It’s quite a ride! But the results are usually pretty terrific. 

See you in the foyer.



& Friends

We were very sorry to hear that Ella Bambery has not been too well lately. You may recall Barb Hughes posted about Ella in our May edition of Cues & News. Barb reminded us that Ella, a Life Member, is our oldest WLT member at 98 years. Get well Ella and we look forward to seeing you at the theatre soon.

Pictures 2014 including Ella with daughter Christine & Ellis Ebell

It's time to remember a couple of significant birthdays (that's code for another decade passing) of two mates of WLT. On this occasion we are remembering Margaret Hammon (pictured) and Henry Ismailiw (pictured below). All your friends at WLT send warm greetings and birthday wishes for good health and happiness into your next decade! Margaret posted a nice compliment on our Facebook page following her seeing Time Stands Still recently. We think some others would agree with her. 
"I loved this show, but then again, I always enjoy Ellis' shows. He is an amazing Director and seems to attract amazing actors. Well done Ellis. You are a real talent."

A quick round-up of some of the theatre activity of some of our members. This is doubtless not fully comprehensive.  WLT folks spread themselves far and wide in their thespian pursuits.

Bob Harsley with Peta Ripper as Director and Assistant Director have started work on The Wisdom of Eve at STAG. This production opens on 20 August.

Marianne Collopy and Janine Evans have both been cast in the Peter Newling directed 84 Charing Cross Road at Mordialloc Theatre Company.

Brett Turner with Adrian Valenta as Director and Assistant Director are scheduled for Quartet at Heidelberg Theatre Company in September with Auditions imminent.

Chookas to all of these talented folks and a prompt if you have news of any WLT members or friends that we can mention in Cues & News do be sure to let us know.

Many people make Willy Lit Fest the success it is. Certainly the many hours of hard work by Barb Hughes, Brian Christopher, Maria Haughey (ASM
Visiting Mr Green) and Lorraine Callow (set design Forum) made a mighty contribution.  

Bernadette Wheatley, Alex Begg and Shirley Sydenham went to Stereo Stories where we met up with WLT subscriber Michele Meehan.  It was a terrific night out!  Authors each read a story that involved an episode or time in their life that resonated with a particular song, music or group. They were accompanied and complemented by fantastic musicians who re-created that music. Wonderful stuff of laughter, a few tears, empathy, and a lot of nostalgia.  One highlight was 90 year old Salvatore Romita playing his piano accordion as his daughter read her story of how his music was the sound track of her life. He returned to the stage after the performances and entertained us some more, with Barb and a few others joining in a singalong (pictured below)

Another highlight was a tribute to the founder and patron of the Willy Lit Fest, the late Joan Kirner (pictured here at a previous festival), former Victorian Premier, whose funeral had taken place there just days before. On such an evening, what better tribute than a rousing chorus by us all of â€˜I love rock’n’roll’? We reckon Joan would have chuckled at that.


A love letter to WLT


The new through older eyes 

Time does not stand still at WLT.  

Since fleeing Melbourne suburbia in February 1998 for my 20 acre paradise in the Adelaide Hills over the last few years I have generally only been at the theatre on Cordell Day and not during a production. However in July I made a trip to Melbourne for a family celebration and whilst in town I caught Time Stands Still at the theatre. 

What a delight it was to attend the theatre during a production. The theatre looked magnificent. It sparkled. It showed care and passion and that fundamental aspect of the amateur – love. 

During many years much has been done to make the theatre a great place and several of the perhaps more recent inputs were a stand out to these older eyes with a fresh view. The courtyard set-up and developments, the plants lit, the foyer's looking magnificent, free water in the foyer, the slide shows on the notice boards, brewed coffee for only $1, the beautiful printed free colour program, great foyer displays, the smart FOH aprons (and the gorgeous Moira and Neil FOH), the beautiful coloured step lighting and other colours in the auditorium with its seating and carpet and then with David’s wonderful set sitting there glowing waiting to contribute to the great production. 

I felt very honoured to be there and to have once played a part in this wonderful theatre which has been presenting such diverse and classy productions for many years.  

I will borrow the quote from the 60th – WLT – Take a Bow. And I look forward to the 70th celebration. 

My love to WLT, to all the dedicated and passionate workers who have contributed, and to all who might still remember me. 

Laurie Gellon

WLT Website gets a new look!

We mentioned last month that work was underway to refresh our all-important website. A big thank you to Jenn Piper and Shirley Sydenham for their work on this task. Delighted to announce that the new site is now LIVE - CLICK HERE.

Do take the time to browse and explore the new style website. Like any website, ours is organic and evolving and so if you don't find something you want or need it's probably going appear soon! So make sure you enhance your WLT experience and use our website as often as you like. You will find that it will be a good addition to our monthly Cues & News and regular Facebook postings. As we have Breaking News it will be posted on the website as well as Facebook and in the next Cues & News.

Editor: Frank Page  M. 0417 010 817  E.

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