The Nance Open Rehearsal

Sunday 3 April 3.30pm
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15 March 2016

Dear <<First Name>>,

What a wonderful start we had to our 70th anniversary year with our sold-out, Peter Newling directed, opening play Sweet Road. We are delighted to share with you two reviews of this play which confirm that we started the year very much in top gear.

The success of Sweet Road was beautifully complimented by several equally successful and memorable anniversary events. Last month we featured the launch of the birthday wall and this month we recount the wonderful Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Entertainment - Down Memory Lane 1946-1967. Our compliments to the range of members who worked hard to make this such a delightful success. For all anniversary news and information check out Anniversary Despatches below.

To maintain the buzz and excitement we now have The Nance, our next production, directed by well known Chris Baldock. Our production will be the Australian premiere for this play and from Facebook comments by the director and others, after the first read-through, we are clearly in for something very special. See some details on The Nance below.

Click on any of the following links to go straight to your article of choice.


Hi! Simply Hi! from The Nance


Chris Baldock, Travis Handcock, Janet Provan and The Nance cast are now well into rehearsals for what is shaping up to be a very exciting show.  Since the last Cues & News we have two new cast members.  Welcome to Reece (Mozz) Manning and Susanna Meijer who will be joining Phil Lambert, Ziv Gidron, Kirk Alexander, Cat Jardine, Kate Lewis and Dianne Algate in this all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza.

David Dare and crew have been hard at work on one of our most adventurous sets to date.  We even have a revolve!  Lots to do so if anyone would like to help, please give Brian Christopher a call on 0458 134 469.

Tony Tartaro is convening The Irving Place Shnayderke* (formerly known as the Ancient Roman Sewers) each Saturday afternoon at the theatre**.  There are plenty of jobs, big and small, for all skill levels so give Tony a ring on 0419 448 156 if you’d like to sew a sequin or glue a g-string.


*  The Irving Place Theatre is the name of the burlesque theatre where much of the action in The Nance takes place and “shnayderke” is Jewish for female tailor. We think there’d have been Jewish seamstresses working on the costumes at the Irving Place Theatre; it was New York, 1937.
** See Notice below for weekly Sewing Bee details.

We had a terrific first read-through in the courtyard with all of the cast (above photo) and most of the crew with cast (below photo) in attendance.  We even managed to get Roger Forsey in a photo. More first read-through pictures below, including David Dare introducing the set design.
Back Row L-R: Roger Forsey (Technical & Photos), Katey Lewis (Joan), Ziv Gidron (Ned), Cat Jardine (Sylvie), Jason Bovaird (Lighting Design), Phil Lambert (Chauncey), Chris Baldock (Director), Alex Begg (SM), Travis Handcock (Asst. Director), Reece Manning (Ensemble), Kirk Alexander (Efram)
Middle Row L-R: Barb Hughes (Prod.Coord), Diânne Algate (Carmen), Susanna Meijer (Rose), Tony Tartaro (Costumes), Robyn Legge (Prompt)
Front Row L-R: David Dare (Set Design), Maureen White (Light & Sound Operation), Janet Provan (MD)

....and just to whet your appetite here's (l-r) Dianne, Cat, Katey and Susanna showing their moves!

Don’t forget that the open rehearsal for The Nance will be held on Sunday 3 April from 3.30pm.  Come along and watch part of a rehearsal then join the cast and crew for some drinks and nibbles afterwards.


Weekly Sewing Bees Begin Again


Our regular Saturday afternoon costume sewing bees have begun again as we prepare the large range of interesting costumes for the next WLT production, The Nance

Set in the world of 1937 New York burlesque, the show offers lots of opportunity for unusual sewing projects. So whether you’re a wiz with a sewing machine or have the patience for hand stitching come along and join the team and make a seam. No need to bring anything as all materials are supplied.


We will meet on Saturday afternoons at the theatre on 19 & 26 March and 2 & 9 April from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. If you’d like to know more or can’t make it on Saturday afternoons but want to get involved please contact Tony Tartaro on 0419 448 156 or email Tony, click button below.

Email Tony Tartaro

Dressers Needed - The Nance


Because of the many quick changes of costume the actors will need assistance during each costume rehearsal and performance. Dressers need to be calm and efficient and be able to move discreetly backstage to undress and redress actors as needed as well as doing between scenes tidy up of costumes. Any member who would like to experience the buzz and camaraderie of behind the scenes during performance is asked to contact Tony Tartaro, Barb Hughes or Alex Begg. You will be needed from about 30 minutes before curtain up until the end of the performance for each costumed rehearsal starting on Sunday 10 April and then each performance from Thursday 21 April to Saturday 7 May.

Sweet Road drives off into the sunset


It’s been such a sweet ride! Audience responses have been warm and enthusiastic and a few have said, ‘Best play I’ve seen at Willie!’ which is such an accolade; one which we appreciate and value. Many have also said that an Australian play resonates so differently and they’ve particularly enjoyed that.

It’s been a long stretch of hard work for the team. The show was solidly sold out, including an extra matinee on Sunday of the middle week and of course there was a charity preview night before opening night so seventeen performances in all. Certainly a marathon!  Our superb cast and stunning backstage people all worked together flawlessly - such a fantastic ensemble. Not only is it a longish play, but there was a lot of furniture and set moving that everyone participated in so there wasn’t much rest except at interval. 


It has been just wonderful having so many new faces join us at WLT. Ellis Ebell and Stephanie Gonelli were members already and the rest are very welcome new members who have all said they enjoyed their gig at Willie.  The gorgeous Travis Handcock has already begun work as Assistant Director of The Nance and there’ve been indications from others that they’d welcome a return in some capacity in the future which is all great news indeed.


Congratulations to our backstage team also! Liz Buckley is a fabulous Stage Manager and ran the show most capably. Alex Begg was stand-in Stage Manager on some performances that Liz was unable to do and of course did a super job, as he always does. Kay Hambling did a sterling job operating light and sound with Patrick Slee doing a few shows to give her a bit of a break.


The set, designed by David Dare, worked so well with the filmic style of the play with its sliding panels and clever use of chairs to represent the various vehicles. And of course, the lighting design by Craig Pearcey heightened the atmosphere so beautifully. Patrick Slee’s audio design was very evocative and worked so well with the set, lighting and acting.


Congratulations to director Peter Newling for a delightful night out at the theatre and a really positive start to our 70th Birthday year!

Shirley Sydenham
Production Coordinator

Always at the leading edge here at WLT - the new fad; backstage selfies - cast and crew Sweet Road.  With thanks to Liz Buckley.
After show parties are unique and special events and no less so for the final night of Sweet Road. Apart from amazing catering, including the Sweet Road cake, the true ensemble that this production represented was on full show; bonded and appreciative of each other.

Moments of tension and drama -              Sweet Road Reviews


Williamstown Little Theatre
Sweet Road by Debra Oswald
Directed by Peter Newling
Performance - Friday 12 February 2016 (Opening week)
Reviewer – Jennifer Paragreen


Sweet Road provided a welcome vehicle for us to encounter the sights and sounds of Australia with a rather whimsical but imaginative and evocative impression of outback Australia.  It is five years since Williamstown Little Theatre last staged an Australian play in Two Years with the Queen.  The drought was broken with Sweet Road, a dark comedy from 2000 written by Debra Oswald who these days is best known as the head writer of the television drama series, Offspring.

By its nature the play is episodic with several story stands which manage to interweave in various quirky and sometimes quite unexpected ways – easy to do with film and television editing facilities but takes a lot of forward planning to achieve on stage.  Director, Peter Newling, with his very talented cast and support crew, strategically created an engrossing production with scene changes flashing before our eyes in almost no time at all. 

The protagonists are various itinerants in the outback; some motivated by a desire to escape, others by the imagined lure of some distant destination.  Sensitively delivered monologues demonstrate each character’s perceptions and rationale while the chance interactions along the road expose more of their hopes, disappointments and, for some, quite unexpected benefits.

Sarah Milway set the tone for the play with Jo’s opening monologue at the wheel of her car from where, shocked by the discovery of her husband’s infidelity, she takes to the open road.  We see her interactions, initially with the love-struck and idealistic Yasmin played by Stephanie Morrell. Exploiting both the humour and the drama of her situation, Sarah took us on a journey through a range of emotions, seeking revenge, sinking into despair and, finally, resolving to be independent and resourceful in raising her child. 

The bogan family, Dad, Mum, the two kids and the dog, was vividly portrayed by Travis Handcock and Stephanie Gonelli who bickered very convincingly as Andy and Carla.

Carla’s “eye contact” with her unseen children left the audience in no doubt as to where they were. Her vocal intonation was also excellent, seemingly always with an undercurrent of concern even when frustrated and angry.

Travis impressed with Andy’s pent-up energy and enthusiasm as he chased illusive dreams.  Some of his actions were downright irresponsible but Travis managed to give Andy something endearing and a greater depth in the monologue addressed to Brown Dog and in conversation with Frank

Frank (Ellis Ebell) and Michael (Div Collins) were both grieving and brought sincerity and poignancy to the performance. 

Frank’s wife had died suddenly just as they were about to embark on their grey nomads' adventure leaving him to undertake the journey alone as a kind of pilgrimage. Ellis conveyed his loneliness and also his gentle kindness very sensitively.

Michael’s son had been killed in a traffic accident when his father was driving. Although the innocent party in the crash, Michael was racked with guilt and used his job as a delivery man as a welcome excuse to leave his home and what he interprets as the reproachful eyes of his wife.

Rosalin Shafik-Eid and Gilbert Gauci played the ‘locals’ colourfully. Rosalin created vivid and sassy characterisations of motel receptionists and also impressed as the local cop with a compassionate heart buried under the efficient exterior. 

Gilbert’s laconic motor mechanic was fun to watch while his performance as Curtis was absolutely terrifying.  In the scene where he is travelling in the front seat with Andy and Carla his movements in response to vibrations from the rough road were much more noticeable than his companions’ – but then again, if I had been sitting beside Curtis I would have been too frozen with fear to move a muscle, even involuntarily!

The set was made up of 2D components. David Dare’s decision to limit the colour pallet to subtle hues, many of them the grey-green of gum leaves, created the impression that everything had a patina of dust and also provided an amenable background for various lighting changes. Permanently positioned stark, leafless, straight limbed trees contributed to a spooky and mysterious atmosphere.

Really giving this production extra zing was the speed with which set changes were facilitated thanks to the quirky set components and the technology which supported them.

With actors doubling as stage crew, stylised banks, shops, telephone boxes glided in and out most efficiently. I loved the caravan and there was an audible gasp of nostalgic appreciation when the Golden Fleece bowser came into view.

Scene changes were choreographed with absolute precision often heralded by a touch of radio static or a tiny snippet from an iconic Australian song and accompanied by impeccably timed lighting changes. Full marks to stage management and the sound and lighting teams.

Costumes hit the mark indicating personality plus economic and social status.  The before and after crash versions of Jo’s pink outfit were most effective. 

The cars were just amazing. The opening scene with several ‘cars’ on stage was symbolic of the fact that Jo was travelling in traffic.  The inspired use of so many different styles of chairs to indicate the type of car was amusing and worked a treat – high backed stools, a wooden bench, plastic chairs etc all suited the drivers. 

WLT’s Sweet Road provided a wonderful evening’s entertainment. Some of the story might be implausible but actors made the somewhat quirky characters real.  There were moments of tension and drama melded into a performance which kept us both amused and moved - I am sure I was not the only one to shed a tear when Frank died.

Congratulations on a true ensemble effort with well nuanced stage performances from actors who also melded seamlessly into the slick and savvy production team.  Brilliant!

Jennifer Paragreen


As always, we are very grateful to VDL Theatrecraft for allowing us to republish this review.

Auditions - If I Should Die Before I Wake


If I Should Die Before I Wake

by Rebecca Lister
Director: Ellis Ebell


Auditions: Sunday 24 April & Monday 25 April
Season: 30 June - 16 July


The play is set in the early 2000’s in a back yard in suburban Melbourne.            

The Anderson family faces an uncertain future. Gillie, a woman with a lifelong intellectual disability, her sister Isabelle and their mother Joan have lived within the boundaries defined by Gillie’s childlike need for routine and ritual.  Having cared for Gillie since her birth, Joan now faces the end of her own life and must decide her elder daughter’s future when she is no longer capable of being Gillie’s primary carer.  As with every family, critical decisions must be made in the midst of unspoken tensions, unconditional love and a great deal of humour.

This play has not been performed by amateurs and is WLT’s entry in the VDL Awards.



Joan Anderson – mid 60’s  

Mother to Gillian and Isabelle, her husband Tom is dead.  She has terminal cancer and is in a dilemma about what to do about Gillie, who is totally dependent on Joan and has been her entire life. Note: The actor playing this role is required to smoke.

Gillian Anderson – late 30’s  

Gillian has an intellectual disability with traits of autism. She has an intellectual age of about 7or 8.


Isabelle Anderson – early 30’s  

Isabelle is married to Robert and lives close by, however, she is still very much involved with the family.  She has no children.


Auditions by appointment only.
Appointments and enquiries  



• Audition scenes from the play will be available at the theatre on the day. Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your audition time to enable you to look at the audition pieces.


• Please bring with you a completed audition form CLICK HERE - download here, along with a non returnable head shot with your name written on the back in case it gets separated from the form.


• Rehearsals will be on a Sunday from 1.00pm till 6.00pm and Mondays 7.30pm till 10.30pm.



Production Coordinator : Bernadette Wheatley

Set Design : David Dare

Lighting Design : Craig Pearcey

Sound Design : Neil Williamson & Ellis Ebell

Anniversary Despatches

The past month has seen further celebration of our important milestone - 70 years of Williamstown Little Theatre.

Here are some of the details, including the first of our Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Entertainments. A big thank you to a range of WLT stalwarts who made the first of these events so delightful and fitting. Special thanks to Judi Clark, convenor of the Entertainments Sub Committee, for providing her report which identifies all the other contributors.

Despite a number of apologies, with competing events, we had a bumper turn-up of members and friends of WLT which was very satisfying.


Click on the video links below to see brief excerpts from Summer of the Seventeenth Doll and The Importance of Being Earnest with performances by original cast members.


Make sure you have the next of these entertainments in your diary - A Bakery doth a Theatre Make - 1968-1990 - Sunday 8 May 2pm. This second event takes us into the Albert Street era.


Incidentally, 8 May is Mother's Day and so the Prince Albert Hotel across the road has a Mother's Day Lunch starting at noon; perfect timing for a 2pm session at the theatre!


Down Memory Lane - 1946-1967


A HUGE thank you to all those who participated in Down Memory Lane on Sunday 28 February. Gillian Wadds (Senior) provided us with a lovely script and choice of excerpts and gathered a stellar cast. They were Ella Bambery, Marion Becroft, Mary Little, Doug Lindsay, Graeme West with ‘newbies’ Barbara Hughes, Bob Harsley and David Dare providing the musical number. Alex Begg and Neil Williamson were the crew with Peter Newling as M.C. The assistance of various committee members was much appreciated, especially that of Shirley Sydenham who kept us on the right track. Roger and Wendy Forsey made sure that the day was recorded for posterity and both Shirley and Bernadette Wheatley who provided the lovely refreshments. The weather was glorious and the audience terrific – what more could you ask!

From Judi Clark, Lois Collinder and Robyn Legge
WLT 70th Entertainments Sub-committee (also known as the Ladies Who Lunch)

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll Video Clip
The Importance of Being Earnest Video Clip
Images by Roger Forsey and Frank Page

....and thanks to Mary Little for this lovely note after her participation in Down Memory Lane.

Looking back through the Archives


We've added more material from the Archives to our History page on the website. New items have also appeared on our Facebook page and Instagram account. CLICK HERE to see the latest additions which cover the mid 1950's and relate well to some of the material presented at the recent Down Memory Lane - 1946-1967 event.

Ladies in Retirement - Programme 6d - Cast included Gillian Witt (Wadds/Senior) and Dorothy Porter. 1954

Where else can you read about the year-long WLT 70th Anniversary?

Well to start with, keep an eye on our very own website and here's a link to Happy Memories!  (click here) a full report on the Down Memory Lane event with photos. You can also read about the really truly completion of the Birthday Wall - The Final Flourish! (click here).

The other place to keep tabs on WLT happenings, including Anniversary events, is the WLT Facebook page CLICK HERE.  Just search for Williamstown Little Theatre and ask to join.  We currently have 520 members following our page.

For Pete's Sake

Ah March. The leaves are changing colour, the days are getting shorter and cricket is giving way to football (that last one seems to happen earlier every year, doesn’t it?)

A couple of weeks ago we bade a fond farewell to Sweet Road and all who drove on her. I hope you enjoyed having a brief glimpse into the lives of Carla and Andy (along with Nicole, Blake and Brown Dog of course!), Jo, Yasmin, Michael and Frank. A big thank you to all involved in the production – on stage, front of house and behind the scenes.

I said in my programme notes for Sweet Road that I was very keen that, in this our 70th birthday, we hear Australian stories and Australian accents. I’m so glad we got to start the year that way. And this will continue with Ellis’s production later in the year of the world-wide amateur premier of If I Should Die Before I Wake – the story of a Melbourne family in their suburban Melbourne home.

And evidence would suggest that this is not a new thing for WLT at all.

Those fortunate enough to attend our 70th birthday Sunday afternoon event Down Memory Lane – 1946-1967, were treated to rehearsed readings of some WLT plays from that era performed by legends of the place – Gillian Senior, Mary Little, Marion Becroft and the indefatigable Ella Bambery. They were ably supported by Doug Lindsay and Graeme West. One of the excerpts they performed (beautifully) was from Ray Lawler’s The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll (including my now favourite line “Just sittin’ here gettin’ the sea breeze off the gutter”).

One thing I learned that day was that WLT’s 1961 production of The Summer of the Seventeenth Doll ,directed by Gwladys Winfield, was the world-wide amateur premier of this seminal Australian work. As Gillian noted, “WLT was very proud to be the first group in Australia to obtain the amateur rights to this play after its really huge professional success – in Australia and overseas”. How good is that!!

So our commitment to providing Australian voices and Australian content dates back to the very beginning of the company – as does our commitment to offering our audiences access to the newest, most contemporary plays, from here and abroad. And long may that continue.

See you in the foyer!


WIT (West Independent Theatre)

Fairy Tale News

It's six o'clock and time for tonight's edition of Fairy Tale News. Current affairs and news program: by Fairy Tales, for Fairy Tales (and children). Join Hansel and Gretel, our FTN anchors, and a cast of family favourites including Prime Minister Humpty Dumpty and Pinocchio the weather reporter, as they follow the story of the missing basket and keep you up to date with all the latest magical news.

Suitable for all ages.

Written by Belinda Campbell
Directed by Jennifer Piper

2–8 April 
1pm and 6pm, Wednesday to Saturday. 5pm Tuesday.

Book Tickets to Fairy Tale News - CLICK HERE

Members & Friends

We were very saddened to hear of the recent passing of Dick Murdoch

Ellis Ebell remembers Dick Murdoch - "As far as I can recall Graeme (Dickie) Murdoch did one show with WLT and that was The Boy Friend back in 1964 before WLT moved to Albert Street.  He may have done something before I joined and I don't think that he ever appeared on stage at Albert Street.  I am sure Dickie appeared with the Williamstown Light Opera Co. as it was then known.  He and his wife Angela were subscribers at WLT."

Dick served as a councillor for the City of Altona and the subsequent City of Hobsons Bay where he was elected Mayor 1999-2000.
CLICK HERE for City of Hobsons Bay Media Release 4 March 2016.

Dick was a long time subscriber, supporter and friend of WLT.  Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.


One of our wonderful and very competent Stage Managers is Emma Hunt. Emma jetted off for 6 weeks in the UK last week. Emma's last Stage Management gig at WLT was with Time Stands Still last year. Another distinction enjoyed by Emma is her wonderful collection of shoes - see picture here.  We'll be looking out for the additions to her collection from this trip. We wish Emma safe travels and a wonderful time and look forward to the promised Facebook updates.


We have been sorry to learn that Life Member Bruce Wapshott has been very ill in hospital, but is home again we understand. Thinking of Bruce and wishing him well.


Congratulations to Craig Pearcey for his 2015 Lyrebird Award for Best Lighting in a Drama, which he shared with Alex Di Petrio. The production was Killing Jeremy, a production of The 1812 Theatre. No surprises for Craig's friends at WLT, where his lighting designs are now legendary, with a case in point being the just completed and wonderfully lit Sweet Road.


Many ticket enquiries have been sent to the Secretary, who can’t do anything other than forward them to our Ticket Secretary David Dare because, understandably, only one person does ticket exchanges and sales or we’d have chaos!   


To meet this need, the ‘contact’ page of our website now offers you a direct email contact with David by giving a choice of contact forms:  for all ticket matters simply choose the contact form for tickets. Alternatively, you can email  And of course, you can always ring David on 9885 9678.

Diary Dates

The Nance
by Douglas Carter Beane
Director: Chris Baldock

Season: 21 April - 7 May

Open Rehearsal:
Sunday 3 April 3.30pm

If I Should Die Before I Wake
by Rebecca Lister
Director: Ellis Ebell

Season: 30 June - 16 July

Auditions: Sunday 24 April & Monday 25 April


Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Entertainments
A Bakery doth a Theatre Make - 1968-1990
Sunday 8 May 2pm


WLT's 70th Birthday Gala dinner dance
Saturday 20 August 7pm-midnight

Theatre Program for Teenagers

Are you a parent or grandparent with teenage children or grand children living in the Western Suburbs who you would like to see involved in theatre? Well, if so, Tony Tartaro has found you a great opportunity.


The Flemington Theatre Company have gained council support to run a theatre program for teenagers. This is novel and interesting as youth programs so often focus on sport!

Tony met Jennifer Monk who is running the 10 week course and she is both engaging and knowledgeable. She has a WAPA background and has had the obligatory stint in the US and is now back teaching in schools.  

Details in the following flyer and contact Rose Iser 0414 959 427 or

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Editor: Frank Page  M. 0417 010 817  E.
Copyright © 2016 Williamstown Little Theatre, All rights reserved.

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