Open Rehearsal
When I Was Five
Sunday 19 March 3.30pm
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15 March 2017


Hello <<First Name>>,

Even here at WLT, where we pride ourselves on the quality of our productions, it is exciting to pick up on the vibe that a new production generates. Thus it was with our first play for the year, Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon. Lots of different adjectives heard and read to describe this presentation and we think "brilliant" sums these up pretty well. Congratulations to first-time WLT director Tess Maurici Ryan, her cast and production team on this tear-away success. It was a brilliant way to start our theatrical year.

Play No.2 When I Was Five, by Jeff Baron and directed by Brett Turner is well on the way to its opening night on 20 April, just after Easter. Lots of excitement and anticipation with this one and you can read about it here along with a few photos to whet your appetite.

Interesting to study some of the stats associated with Cues & News. While our database has grown to a number hovering just above 1,000 we are having less of the newsletters opened by our members and friends. In 2014 40.2% opened Cues & News, while in 2015 it was 38.5%, 2016 37% and this year of 2017 33.2% so far. Now, don't get us wrong, we're not complaining. The industry average opening rate for our type of newsletter is 14.8%, so we're well above that. This is attributed to the fact that a large portion of our readership is a group dedicated and committed to WLT and all that happens at our great theatre. We thank you for your continued support.

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Words by Frank Page, Editor
Go straight to the article you want to read, just click on the link below.

When I Was Five

By Jeff Baron
Directed by Brett Turner


First read-throughs are always exciting and this was no exception. Only a small cast but a little different to the usual.  This time there is a 10 year old character. Given that the actor is so young, we had to find two people to cast for the same role. And were we fortunate? You bet, two brothers arrived and were exceptional in their auditions.  JACKPOT!  And the first read-through was certainly an experience. Barnaby and Oliver Kinsella as Billy were a delight. We also welcomed Seth Kannof (Will), a New York native who now lives locally and welcomed back Janine Evans as Ellen.

We are also using music by a Melbourne singer/songwriter named David Hosking.

David has been writing and performing his music for the many years around the clubs, pubs and music cafés of Melbourne and has also toured overseas.

The show is going to be an experience that our audiences will thoroughly enjoy.  I know I will.

Words by Robert Harsley, Production Coordinator

Back (from left): Robert Harsley - (Production Coordinator), Peter Newling (ASM), Jake Privett (SM), 

Centre: Maria Haughey (Props and Costume Assistant), Adrian Valenta (Assistant Director), Brett Turner (Director), Janine Evans (Ellen), Seth Kannof (Will), Shirley Sydenham (Costumes)

Front: Barnaby Kinsella (Billy), Oliver Kinsella (Billy)

Photo by Bob Harsley

Clockwise from top left: Bob, Janine, Jake & Maria, Barnaby & Oliver, Bob, Peter (First read-through host)

Seth's shoulder, Brett, Adrian, Maria, Jake, Janine

Photos by Shirley Sydenham


Bad Jews

By Joshua Harmon
Directed by
Tess Maurici Ryan


- Reviews
- Production Coordinator
- Behind the Scenes




Jennifer Paragreen Review


Williamstown Little Theatre

Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon

Directed by Tess Maurici Ryan

Performance - Saturday 11 February 2017 (Opening week)

Reviewer – Jennifer Paragreen


Williamstown Little Theatre launched its 2017 program with Bad Jews, a scathing and riotous comedy which had its first airing Off-Broadway less than five years ago. 

Bad Jews concerns three Jewish cousins who, on the night after their grandfather’s funeral, are at loggerheads over taking possession of a family heirloom which has survived the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. 

The fight is verbal but visceral as each, in very different ways, adamantly stakes a claim as to why he or she should inherit their grandfather’s keepsake. 

The abrasive and opinionated Daphna bases her claim on her ‘Jewishness’. She has spent time in a kibbutz and has a fiancé in Israel.  Her secular cousin, Liam, already has the heirloom in his possession and a designated purpose envisaged for it. The much quieter Jonah, who seems resolutely determined to stay out of the fray, finally reveals his hand and his bona fides for the treasure.

Joshua Harmon’s vibrant script gives each of these characters a chance to shine and cleverly introduces a fourth character, Liam’s shiksa girlfriend Melody, to provide a contrast and extra dimension to the play.

Tess Maurici Ryan has made the most of the vicissitudes and confrontations of the play’s story line with a cast physically well tailored to their roles in a beautifully paced production. The script’s humour, so effectively delivered, keeps the laugher flowing while the ferocity in the confrontations comes in waves to render the audience quite appalled but totally engrossed. 

Stage movements were interesting and varied, thanks in part to the intelligent and well balanced set design which allows actors to walk behind the bed head in front of the kitchen so that the action flow and actors can credibly distance themselves from part of the action when necessary.

Set dressing was impressive with the neat, well equipped kitchen in the background with its microwave and coffee machine etc. and the laden bookshelves to our left symbolically incorporating a menorah. The necessary temporary bedding was also strategically placed. 

We were told repeatedly that the Hudson River could be viewed from the bathroom which set my mind to wondering what sort of visual monstrosity might be lurking behind the permanently closed blind centre stage in the kitchen.

In a dazzling performance Julia Lambert is stunning as the confident and smug Daphna. Her motor mouth delivery propels the play along. The flamboyant speed of her projection, complete with impeccably clear diction and well sustained New York Jewish accent, is breath taking and the characterisation is vivid as she rides roughshod through all in her path. 

John Murphy plays the valiantly noncommittal Jonah with sensitivity and beautifully observed facial expressions. His emotional reactions are clearly portrayed and his calmness is most effective in setting up a counterpoint to the vigorous clashes between Daphna and her cousin Liam.

As Liam Charlie Collopy-White strides the stage with gestures that speak as loudly as his words. His spats with Daphna are electric and, of course, contrast markedly with his interactions with his girlfriend. I really liked his handling of the demand that Jonah intervene and call off Daphna’s derision.

Francesca Bianchi is a delight as the unfortunately named Melody. Seemingly full of sweetness and naïvety. The scene where she decides to take control and become the peacemaker was absolutely hilarious when we know she has innocently stepped into a minefield.


Her version of Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ was ideally suited to the situation and one of the star turns in an already stellar production.

There are actually highlights aplenty in WLT’s staging of this uproarious black comedy with familial and religious overtones. The hair diatribe is one that springs to mind.

The production is so good because every aspect is so good. 

The required costume design might not have set much of a challenge for someone of Tony Tartaro’s prodigious talents but the chosen clothing succinctly portrayed the character’s personality. Look at the difference between Daphna’s loud check and Melody’s dress. 

Lighting, prop selection, poster design and so on are all in astute hands which make for a totally engaging production which augurs extremely well for WLT’s audience in 2017.

Congratulations to all involved in bringing this theatrical delight to the Williamstown stage.

* * * * *

Jennifer Paragreen


                                                                                               Production photos by Roger Forsey

Theatrecraft Review Bad Jews

As ever we are most grateful and thank VDL Theatrecraft for their kind permission to republish this review.

Behind the Scenes Bad Jews

Every patron who attended WLT between February 8 to 25, they were presented with four enigmatic characters all ready to explode at any moment. They were also presented with dialogue that questioned societal and religious beliefs and pushed themselves to cause discussion with fellow attendees while drawing from the entertainment. For everyone who saw WLT's season of Bad Jews they were lucky enough to see our final product, but I just wish they were all there with us for the ride that was from the first read-through to closing night. 

Throughout the rehearsal period that spanned roughly across two months, Tess Maurici Ryan gave free-range to Julia Lambert, John Murphy, Francesca Bianchi and myself to develop the characters in their stride. With this came great success and minor failure as in all works in theatre. There were some rehearsals where it was almost impossible to get through a scene without each other laughing at their scene partner's dialogue. There were also many rehearsals where coffee, tea, and the introduction of childhood cocaine, Wizz Fizz, had to reignite the chemicals in our brain after getting carried away by talking about any and everything with each other in rehearsal breaks. We had many celebrations along the way. We had the lead-up to Christmas which saw John attend rehearsals in various Christmas jumpers, despite what Melbourne's variable temperatures, to invigorate our spirits. We celebrated both sides of January 1st together and we also got to celebrate my 22nd birthday in truly memorable fashion with resident cake-maker, Tess, assembling a Mount Everest of a chocolate cake that made us all carefree about what our dieticians may suggest.
We saw a lot of changes come through the rehearsal period too. There were new additions to the set each day that went by, there was the development of Daphna's wig that seemed to have a mind of its own sometimes, and there was also deliberate erasing and growth of facial hair. The rehearsal period also saw many of the crew that included Shirley Sydenham (Production Coordinator), Ness Harwood (Stage Manager), Kerry Drumm (Assistant Stage Manager), Tony Tartaro (Costume Designer) and Maria Haughey (Props) spend many nights in the audience providing authentic reactions and ideas to help propel the show forward. With such a show as Bad Jews where the dialogue is so rapid-fire, it was easy to be caught off-guard or off-rhythm at any moment. We found we stumbled, mumbled and entirely forgot many lines throughout the rehearsal period. Luckily enough for us, we had the committed Rosalin Shafik-Eid as our rehearsal prompt who was always there to not just cue us on line prompts but she also went a step further by taking notes of lines we'd continuously stumbled on and helped us with them. 

John Murphy & Julia Lambert                        Charlie Collopy-White & Francesca Bianchi

When the season commenced, each night we were delighted by a new pair of Julia's shoes that could've just about cured a narcoleptic were they to be with her; vibrant and colourful to match her glowing personality. Walking through the stage-gate, you were always approached by Peta Ripper (Lighting and Sound Operator) inviting our participation in 'Seat Bingo', where we all chose a seat in the front row and prayed for a member of audience to sit in that seat first. Kerry Drumm was the subsequent winner of this game, compiling win after win after win, and not being shy to rub it only in my face. In the dressing room, there were laughs and discussions on which early-2000s songs were best due to John's searches and purchases from local Op-Shops that included many So Fresh CDs, and also an abundance of sweets that always kept our sugar levels higher than a kid on red cordial. 

To look back at the last three months feels like a lifetime ago because of how big a part of my life Bad Jews was. There were many memories, laughs and conversations that I still hold close to and will be sure to hold close to for many years to come. My only wish is to work with everyone on this team again to create something bigger and better, if that's possible. Much love and respect to my favourite theatre, Williamstown Little Theatre. I wish to be back soon.

Charlie Collopy-White


Production Coordinator wraps up Bad Jews

Bad Jews was like fireworks : bright, fiery, vivid, loud … and gone all too soon.

Thank you to our 17 full houses who laughed and gasped and applauded this wonderful production. We loved you!

Congratulations to Tess Maurici Ryan, the amazing cast – Julia Lambert, Charlie Collopy-White, John Murphy and Francesca Bianchi – and the wonderful backstage crew – Ness Harwood, Kerry Drumm and Peta Ripper

Thanks also to Tony Tartaro for costumes that perfectly complemented the characters onstage, to Maria Haughey for all those props, to Judi Clark for her assistance with props, to Patrick Slee for his assistance with audio and to Rosalin Shafik-Eid for her work as rehearsal prompt. Those of you who are on Facebook or WLT’s Twitter feed, you’ll have seen regular posts of rehearsal photos (see backstage impressions by Kerry Drumm below) – thanks Kerry Drumm

The after party on the last night demonstrated perfectly what an ensemble Tess put together, a bunch of people who enjoyed each other’s company and respected each other’s work. 

Bye bye Bad Jews, you exit to much applause.
Words by Shirley Sydenham, Production Coordinator

Front of House 

Thank you again to our fabulous Front of House volunteers. Here is the list of volunteers for Bad Jews. Always grateful to this dedicated group.

Ann Chadwick               Peter Newling
Brian Christopher          Julie Rees
Judi Clark                      Evelyn Robertson
Marise de Quadros       James Rodrigo
Sandra Fitzpatrick         Linda Smart
Robert Harsley              Moira Smith
Maria Haughey              Shirley Sydenham
Barbara Hughes            Tony Tartaro
Emma Hunt                    Neil Williamson
Oleh Kowalyk

2017 - the Year of Vincent


And it’s not just us!

The National Gallery of Victoria presents Van Gogh and the Seasons from 28 April to 9 July. The seasons had great importance to Vincent Van Gogh, representing the greatness  of nature and the existence of a force greater than ourselves. He painted blossoming orchards, fields of ripening wheat, harvests and the sowing of seeds, trees stark in winter cold.

Pink Peach Trees 1888

Overlapping somewhat with this exhibition, WLT’s Vincent in Brixton  by Nicholas Wright runs from 29 June to15 July. The play has four scenes, one for each season. We meet Vincent in winter. It is the birth of a new chapter in his life. In spring, a relationship blooms, and matures in summer.  Autumn brings the death of this part of his life, and a glimpse of the birth of the next one.

And some time this year, dates to be announced, will be the release of an incredible film, Loving Vincent. It is the first fully painted animated feature film. Every one of its 50 or so thousand frames is an oil painting… which works out to be12 oil paintings a second! Read about it here, see some of the paintings and a trailer - Click button below.

Loving Vincent Trailer

Auditions Vincent in Brixton

Download Audition Form Here


Ah March. The gentle waft of hot cross buns belies the fact that Easter is still more than a month away!

Those wonderfully Bad Jews have packed up their Upper East Side apartment and the WLT stage has returned to its blank state. Construction on the set of When I Was Five is now well under way.

For those who have never been part of a theatre production, I thought I would tell you about a part of the process that you may not know about – the first read-through*. Before rehearsals kick off, the cast and crew gather for an initial read through of the text from start to finish. We had the first read-through for When I Was Five a couple of weeks ago – and it was a terrific occasion.

The first read-through serves several purposes. For the actors, it’s a chance to meet your cast-mates – which can be something of a reunion for those who have worked together before, or a ‘getting to know you’ exercise for those who have not. A really common feeling for the actors is one of “These people are all so good! What am I doing here?!”  It can be quite daunting meeting cast-mates for the first time, especially those whose work you’ve admired from the audience in the past.

For the director, it’s a chance to get a feel for the work that needs to be done – hearing each actor read is very different to watching auditions - so it’s a great chance to make some notes about the journey that cast members will need to take to get to the final product. It’s also an opportunity for the director to talk a bit about what he/she expects of the cast and crew,and the work ethic expected throughout the process.

For the designers, it’s a chance to hear the text read out loud and to get a sense as to what’s in front of them. The Costume Designer will be there taking measurements and thinking about style and the colour palette. The Set Designer will be there wondering how that many people will fit onto the stage at the same time or how to move from a suburban loungeroom to a Turkish steambath in less than a minute. The Stage Manager will be wondering why he/she agreed to be part of such a prop-heavy show…..

It’s also a great opportunity for the company to welcome everyone and set out our expectations of those involved.

The first read-through is always an exciting time tinged with more than a little trepidation. They’re an important first step in a journey that will keep everyone very busy for the next three months.

The read through for WIW5 (as we know it) went extremely well – we can’t wait to bring you the final product – after Easter!

See you in the foyer!


Editor Note: * See several photos above from the When I Was Five first read-through, hosted by Peter Newling.

Members & Friends

Wonderful news from Kieran Tracey (pictured from Visiting Mr Green)… he’s engaged and getting married in November. Congratulations to Kieran and Stacey! We all wish you both much happiness in your life together.


Our very talented Kerry Drumm (pictured) is a prolific and talented writer as well as artist and all round jolly nice person. One of her recent works is a powerful and moving play, Strawberry. Not one to simply print it off the computer and wait, Kerry put together a powerhouse of talent and they filmed a trailer at and around WLT. The edited trailer is now online so that agents and producers can get to view it. Apart from filming on our stage, there's lots of WLT involvement, including Rowan Howard, Madeleine McKinlay, Patrick Slee and SM Emma Hunt. Best of luck to the whole team!

You can check out the trailer for yourselves by clicking the button below.

Strawberry Link
Our very own Barbara Hughes is wowing them again in a musical. This time she is in The Full Monty at the National Theatre in St Kilda, ending 17 March. Kate Herbert from the Herald Sun loves the production and you can read all about it in her review CLICK HERE. She identifies one of the highlights of the show being Barb, "as the lads’ brassy, ageing piano accompanist, Jeanette, as she steals the stage singing Jeanette’s Showbiz Number." Ms Herbert sums up The Full Monty as "an entertaining and uplifting night in the theatre." Barb shared this photo of "the lovely Jeanette in all her glory" on Facebook and said that she was "So lucky to be part of this lovely, funny show." Chookas to Barb for the rest of the run.


Set Construction at WLT

Have you ever considered coming along to a set construction session?  

On Saturday afternoons set construction takes place and when it’s up a set gets painted (or sometimes wallpapered or ‘bricks’ attached). There’s a team leader and people who will guide and direct you, so don’t worry if you’ve never built a set before.  
It really is a whole new perspective!

Why not at least come along to see what is involved? There’s a great bunch of people and it’s enjoyable. If you like what you see, you can join in.  Both men and women are welcome to come along to share their skills and learn new ones.

If you want to find out more, contact Brian Christopher - Click button below.   
Email Brian Christopher

Prince Albert Hotel 

Our local, the Prince Albert Hotel, has a new website. You can read the menu, and make your reservations. Check it out - Click the button below. Don't forget your WLT ticket stub entitles you to a free glass of house wine with your dinner. 
Prince Albert Hotel

Diary Dates

19 March 3.30pm               Open Rehearsal - When I Was Five
2-3 April                             Vincent in Brixton Auditions
Saturday afternoons          When I Was Five set construction - all welcome
20 April - 6 May                 When I Was Five                        
Website: wlt://

Editor: Frank Page  M. 0417 010 817  E.

Copyright © 2017 Williamstown Little Theatre, All rights reserved.

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