Sweet Road Open Rehearsal -      Sunday 17 January 3.30pm
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15 January 2016

Hello <<First Name>>,


Welcome to our first edition of Cues & News, the first of this, our 70th anniversary year.

On the evening of 23 May 1946, nine thespian residents of Williamstown gathered at that City's historic Mechanics' Institute and formed the Williamstown Little Theatre Movement. Their 'immediate aim' was 'to bring to Williamstown theatre groups of good standing to provide plays, ballet, music... of some cultural value'. Ultimately they hoped to 'encourage the actual production of drama in Williamstown.'                          
A Small Intimate Theatre Of Our Very Own - A History of Williamstown Little Theatre 1946-1996 by Robert E. Glass

So it was that Williamstown Little Theatre commenced what was to become an amazing theatre company with a long, proud history of presenting high quality theatre to appreciative audiences over the intervening years. From a fabulous lineup of plays to a variety of anniversary related activity, 2016 promises to be an exciting year in the life of Williamstown Little Theatre. Make sure that you are part of the buzz that will unfold.

Some of WLT's rich history is reflected this month in an article by Life Member June Lownds' son, John Lownds, and an obituary for the recently deceased actor and theatre director Malcolm Robertson by Laurie Gellon.

Our first production Sweet Road by Debra Oswald and directed by Peter Newling, promises to grab us with three intertwining stories of love, loss and grief - compelling Australian drama set in the Australian outback. Join us this Sunday from 3.30pm for an Open Rehearsal of Sweet Road and a chance to meet the director and cast afterwards and enjoy some WLT hospitality.

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

Sweet Road

- so many 'moments' coming to life

What a delightful and enthusiastic cast director Peter Newling has assembled! They’re having fun and already there are so many ‘moments’ coming to life.  Ellis Ebell is a well known favourite of WLT audiences both as actor and director.  However, he’s not being a salacious purveyor of beautiful concubines in this role! Stephanie Gonelli makes a delightful return to our stage in a role very different from the character of Mandy in Time Stands Still. We only saw her as a new mum in that play, whereas in this role she has two very lively kids!  We welcome talented new members Travis Handcock, Sarah Milway, Div Collins, Stephanie Morrell, Rosalin Shafik-Eid and Gilbert Gauci.


The set, by David Dare, is coming together at great speed. It’s a very different ‘DD set’; much more minimal (can something be MORE minimal?) than his more recent, busier sets, rather abstract yet readily conveying outback Australia.  Rob Edwards has been so busy and very innovative in assembling props. He’s excelling in his first props gig and will also do set dressing. Jayde Hollingsworth has been working hard on the costumes.  

She’s new to WLT except for assisting with the Roman Sewers (she’s not ancient!) and is highly qualified to do so being a Fashion and Design graduate.   Liz Buckley is the Stage Manager, a welcome return to the role after much overseas travel. Alex Begg will assist initially but the actors will do the ASM roles. Lighting design is by Craig Pearcey and audio design by Neil Williamson. Kay Hambling will be prompt and will then operate the sound and lights.


Don’t forget that Open Rehearsal is on this Sunday 17 January at 3.30pm; a normal working rehearsal that anyone can attend followed by refreshments.


It’s all coming together so beautifully.  Sweet Road truly promises a sweet evening’s entertainment!


Shirley Sydenham
Production Coordinator


Thank you to Shirley for these images from the rehearsal last weekend

Clockwise from top left - Travis Handcock & Rosalin Shafik-Eid, Travis Handcock, Stephanie Gonelli, Ellis Ebell & Peter Newling, Rosalin Shafik-Eid & Rob Edwards watching from the wings and waiting for a cue, Rosalin & Sarah, Div Collins front, Sarah Milway (L), Rosalin Shafik-Eid (back), Ellis Ebell pensive (reviewing lines) and Div Collins, Peter, Ellis & Steph standing, Peter solo with script, Steph on smart phone. Alex Begg front row, Steph & Pete.

WLT Committee

In our December Cues & News we were recognising the fabulous contribution made to WLT by each and every one of the Committee members. We noted also that we didn't have a group photograph of them. This has been rectified and you can see them all here - literally lined up. They were mucking around a bit so we had to take a series of shots to get the right one! They also took themselves off to the pub along with a few other WLT members who had made various contributions over the year for an end of year meal and celebration.

The Nance Auditions


The Nance 
by Douglas Carter Beane
Director: Chris Baldock

Auditions: Sunday 24 January and Monday 25 January 2016
Season: 21 April - 7 May 2016
Production Coordinator: Barbara Hughes
Set Designer: David Dare
Lighting Designer: Jason Bovaird
Costume Designer: Tony Tartaro


New York. 1937. The burlesque impresarios welcomed the hilarious comics and musical parodies of vaudeville to their decidedly lowbrow niche. A headliner called ‘the Nance’ was stereotypically camp and master of comic double entendre - usually played by a straight man.

A recent Broadway hit starring Nathan Lane, The Nance recreates the naughty, raucous world of burlesque's heyday and tells the backstage story of Chauncey Miles and his fellow performers. At a time when it is easy to play gay and dangerous to be gay, Chauncey's uproarious antics on the stage stand out in marked contrast to his offstage life.

For full details on characters go to the Audition notice on our website CLICK HERE .
Please note:  Although this is definitely not a musical, most characters sing snippets or parts of a song. The ability to SELL a musical number, despite your level of singing and movement ability, will be looked at if you are successful at making call-backs on Monday 1st February, 2016.
Other information:  When you attend the audition, please bring with you an Audition Form already filled in, and a non-returnable photograph (please write your name on back of the photo in case it gets separated from the form). A Download link for audition forms can be found on the website or CLICK HERE
Rehearsals will be at least two nights during the week and on Sundays, commencing late February. Days and times will be determined by cast availability. Please do not audition if you have major commitments between late February and mid-May.
All queries to the Director - click button below for email.

Email Chris Baldock

WLT's 69th Annual General Meeting


This will take place at the theatre on Friday 5 February 2016 at 8pm.
To mark the launch of our 70th Birthday Year, there will be special guests in attendance. and the 70th Birthday Wall will be unveiled. As usual, there will be refreshments after the meeting. All welcome!

Please note that while everyone is welcome to attend, only financial members can vote at the AGM or nominate a member for Committee or be nominated, either by yourself or by another member, to Committee.


Membership is now due!


To begin a membership or to renew your current membership please download or CLICK HERE, fill in a membership form and send to WLT with membership fee following the instructions on the form. 


For Pete's Sake


Happy new year!!!

I hope you had a very relaxing and festive Christmas / New Year period. I also hope you’ve sent in your completed WLT subscription form. Last time I checked seats for our shows for 2016 were already over 85% sold! This is a remarkable achievement and a great start to the new year. 

Right. Do these names mean anything to you: Ernest Grieve, Sarah Donaldson, Margaret and Hamilton Matthews, Bruce MacAllister, Alec Sinclair, Ted Cordell, Win Stewart and Bill Ward

These nine individuals came together back in 1946 with a dream of addressing the lack of live theatre in Melbourne’s inner west. The result was the creation of the Williamstown Little Theatre Movement – and it is their vision and labours that we will be celebrating this year, 70 years down the track. 

I’m sure the experience of live theatre in the immediate post war era must have been a very different one to today. It’s before TV and before mass communications. It was a way to get a glimpse into the lives and experiences of other people and cultures when those opportunities were not easy to come by. A night at the theatre meant being exposed to other worlds, other opinions and other perspectives – a view of life that would stretch people to think outside local issues and the mores of their day to day existence.

I like to think that we’re still holding true to these values 70 years down the track. A night out at the theatre still offers the chance to be transported to another time and place, to hear stories and opinions and share experiences we’ve never considered. Our selection of plays for 2016 will certainly do that!

I wonder what those nine individuals would make of the Williamstown Little Theatre of 2016?

This year we have an exciting program of events lined up to celebrate the contribution WLT has made to our community over those 70 years and to honour the hard work of those who came before us.  
We can’t wait to welcome you back to WLT in 2016 for another season of thought provoking, high quality, entertaining theatre – and to invite you to celebrate our sapphire birthday with us.

See you in the foyer!



Members & Friends

As everyone knows, these days WLT tickets can sometimes be hard to get. With such a large subscriber base our seasons sell out quickly. Supplementing this scenario are the Jamieson nights which have been a feature of our seasons for many years. Taking two nights each season, these have been fund raisers for Williamstown Little Athletics and were organised for many years by Mavis and Jim Jamieson. After Mavis' sad passing her son David and wife Sue Jamieson continue to organise the nights. David has several sisters who also help at the supper nights from time to time. The WLT committee was delighted to host them at its end of year pub dinner and thank them for their contribution through organising the Jamieson nights.


News from Tasmania of Life Member June Lownds and thanks to son John Lownds for sending this through. John and wife Sue had June home for Christmas day where she spent time with four of her five grandchildren and their spouses and twelve of her fourteen great-grandchildren ranging from nearly sixteen years (on 28 December) down to four months and the parents of one of their daughters-in-law. With a couple of sleeps on John and Sue's bed she saw the day out without mishap this year, after dislocating her hip the previous Christmas day. John has also kindly provided a reflection on June and her WLT days and connections which can be found elsewhere in this edition. We thank John for this and know that many of June's old friends will be delighted to hear news of her and remember her wonderful performances on our stage.

Altona Beach Film Festival


Something for budding film makers.


Altona Beach Film Festival website

Apropos of nothing, Pete Newling and Shirley Sydenham reckon this is the funniest note we'll see in the foyer in 2016.


January Jobs - Tuesday Working Bees


We all know that if it's January it's Tuesday Night Working Bees and this year is no exception. Thanks, as ever, to the dedicated folks who head down to Albert Street and get stuck into all manner of jobs. Here's a little photographic insight into some of the jobs being tackled this January.

Clockwise from top; A generous donation of three lights from local resident Leslie Joel. Many thanks Les! A glimpse of the props area, with ongoing organisation and storage in labelled tubs. Judi Clark is making huge inroads into this task, And Over the River... is still departing the building! All the furniture simultaneously in the foyer and on eBay looking for new homes!, Tony Tartaro attacked a motley collection of lamps, lights and chandeliers, culling and sorting as he went. Props waiting to be allocated a spot! Photos courtesy of Shirley Sydenham - thank you.

2016... WLT's 70th Year!


February Cues & News will carry full details of the birthday activities but here’s a little preview…

There will be surprise suppers after randomly chosen performances all through the year. 

Dates to mark in your diary now:


  • Judi Clark and her little committee, The Ladies Who Lunch, or LWL for short, comprising Robyn Legge  and Lois Collinder, have been industriously working on a series of entertainments that will take us down memory lane with little echoes of productions gone by. Each will be followed by afternoon tea. These afternoon delights will take place on Sunday 28 February, Sunday 8 May and Sunday 25 September. The full program will be forthcoming in the next Cues & News.

  • On Saturday 20 August there will be a Birthday Gala at Williamstown Town Hall.  

  • On Sunday 21 August there will be a ‘Back to Willie’ brunch.


For 2016, our sapphire anniversary year, we will be using this special version of our logo designed by the talented Janine Evans.


Do you love colouring in? Make your mark on WLT history!

The design elements of the Birthday Wall, announced last in Cues & News, have been drawn in by its designer, wonderful artist and ASM extraordinaire, Kerry Drumm. Come along and do some of the colouring in, painting inside the lines!

The painting of the 70th Birthday Wall will take place on Sunday, 17 January between 10am and 5pm! Come for 15 minutes, come for an hour…whatever! There’ll be refreshments, the BBQ will be fired up, it’ll be a fun day. At 3.30pm there’s the Open Rehearsal for Sweet Road so you can paint your way in!

Help bring the Birthday Wall to life and for the next ten years you can point to your bit of the wall with pride! 

The Wall will be officially unveiled at the AGM on Friday, 4 February at 8pm.

Here's a little teaser about progress on the wall reported on by Webmistress Shirley Sydenham last weekend in the NEWS Section of our website. Intrigued? CLICK HERE to read the full story. You'll have to zoom your screen to read the text balloons!


Diary Dates

17 January 10am onwards

70th Birthday Wall Project

Wall painting day


17 January 3.30pm
Open Rehearsal

Sweet Road
by Debra Oswald
Director: Peter Newling

Season: 11-27 February


19 & 26 January 5.30/6.00pm
Tuesday in January Working Bees
Dinner provided


24 & 25 January

The Nance
By Douglas Carter Beane
Director: Chris Baldock
Season: 21 April - 7 May


Friday 5 February 8pm

Annual General Meeting


6 February: TWO workshops         2-4pm
Costume Workshop
Backstage & Operator Workshop                                        - details elsewhere


Sunday 7 February from 1pm
The Hare's Annual BBQ
138 La Cote Road, Greendale
BYO Meat, Drinks, Chair & optional Salad or Dessert to share.

Social Media


As many of you will know, WLT is actively involved with Social Media, including Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram. We believe that the combination of these media in addition to our newly revamped website (CLICK HERE) and Cues & News have increased awareness and interest in WLT significantly.


As you will know Instagram is all about images and let's face it there's endless imagery emanating from WLT from fabulous sets and costumes, not to mention performance and cast pictures, to the endless array of social activity that accompanies our five annual productions. This 70th Anniversary year will doubtless generate a bounty of pictures as members old and new gather to mark this significant year.


For those of you on Instagram you can find our new Account at @WLT19462016   
Make sure you FOLLOW our Instagram Account and LIKE some of the pictures that will be featured. By doing this you increase the spread of this material to a wider audience and increase the awareness levels and engagement with WLT. I'm going to be uploading images to our Instagram account  so do look out for them.


At the same time we are stepping up our presence on Twitter and to find us there look for @WLT1946
Kerry Drumm is taking the lead here volunteering to tweet about various WLT activity and announcements. Again this is about increasing awareness with a wider spread of people and with Twitter we're reaching out to a younger audience.

Frank Page

Communications Committee

2016 VDL Stagecraft Workshops 
Light, Sound, Directing, Auditioning, Writing

Full details of the 5 workshops can be found on the VDL website - CLICK HERE.

Costume Workshop

Email Tony Tartaro
Email Alex Begg

June Lownds

Life Member


As I was reading May’s Cues & News to Mum, Life Member June Lownds, I came to the archives request for missing programmes and remembered seeing one for Five Finger Exercise (1970). I asked mum if she would like me to send it to WLT. She was thrilled to be able to contribute once again. I rang Ellis Ebell to let him know it was coming and he suggested I submit an article for C&N.

June celebrated her 89th birthday with some Tasmanian friends and family on 20 June last year. Mum has been suffering from dementia for several years and though her short term memory has gone she is still able to hold a good conversation. Her eye sight is failing (macular degeneration and glaucoma) so I read the monthly C&N to her and she is thrilled to hear of the continued success of WLT, sold out shows, and the regular great critiques. She often says “Wouldn’t it be lovely to pop over for a show”. Thank you Frank for your work as C&N editor, it really lights up her month.

As the years roll on the old guard thins but she still remembers John Burrett, David Dare, Ray Hare, Ellis Ebell (whom I remember as a teenager when he first came to WLT), Bob Harsley, Barbara Hughes, Shirley Sydenham and Frank Page.

In the late 1950’s June attended play readings at the home of Ted and Alice Cordell [Ted was a founding member of WLT, actor and director and our annual award for the best performance in a leading role honours his memory - the Cordell Award] and soon found herself working on stage, backstage and sewing costumes. The part of Mrs Smith in Suspect (1959) was the first of over 30 major roles with WLT and other groups. She worked with many professionals who often asked “Why aren’t you Pro?” Her standard reply was “I’ve got a family to look after”. As the only child I feel a little guilty. Some highlights were: as the Serpent in In the Beginning (1961), the WLT entry in the VDL Festival, for which the adjudicator said “Her performance was faultless”. As Valencienne in The Merry Widow (1967) for the Williamstown Light Opera Company alongside international opera singer Margaret Haggart. Mum said she was very embarrassed receiving their Best Performance of the Year Award. Playing Louise in Five Finger Exercise (1971) and Jean Brodie in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1973) for which she was awarded her two Cordell Awards. After a hiatus of 10 years June returned as Mrs Lovett in the Australian Premiere of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1983). A card she received reads “You tackled a demanding role with good humour and rare professionalism – and made the character live.” In 1984 she was awarded Life Membership. As Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond (1986) alongside a dear friend Vin Foster, the curtain fell for the final time after 27 years on stage. June also served the WLT as a Cordell Award judge and regularly attended productions till she and Douglas moved to Tasmania.

When considering her dementia mum often says “I don’t know how I remembered all those lines.” She still remembers all the songs and though she can’t hold the notes as long, the voice is strong and perfectly pitched. If June’s health is good Sue and I will do everything in our powers to get her to the 70th Anniversary celebrations.

Keep up the good work.

John Lownds

Vale Malcolm Robertson - Actor & Director

It was so sad when I was told that Malcolm Robertson had died on New Year’s Day 2016 at the age of 82, for he was such a lovely man.

Malcolm had a very long career in theatre in Melbourne – in fact I first saw him in the 1962 Union Theatre Repertory Company (URTC) production of Macbeth. That production starred Frank Thring as Macbeth and also included our own WLT thespian Neil Fitzpatrick as Banquo along with other notables Reg Livermore, Sheila Florance and Bunney Brook. Malcolm went on to appear in, and also direct, many other URTC and the subsequent Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC) productions for which he was also an Associate Director and director of Youth Activities for many years.

Malcolm also had some Williamstown Little Theatre connections including appearing as Leo (Chuckles the Chipmonk) in A Thousand Clowns, our last production for 1975. He had played this role in an earlier UTRC production and loving the role so much he wanted to play it again. One review of our production included ‘…one of the strongest casts seen in amateur theatre for some time.’ for the cast also included Carrillo and Nancy Gantner (and hopefully Chris Howell, Ted Smeed, David Smeed and Nicholas Ward contributed as well!). Nancy won the Craven Award that year for her role of Sandra when the Craven Award was for best performance in a supporting role. Malcolm’s then wife was also choreographer for the production, and the stage manager was Ewen Crockett who is also listed as Ukulele Instructor – are you still a wiz at the ukulele Ewen (now 40 years later!)?

Malcolm was the adjudicator at the 1982 Waverley Festival of Theatre and our production of Dusa, Fish, Stas & Vi received many nominations and then the awards for Best Production, Actress and Set. In part of his adjudication he also said that “Williamstown Little Theatre could well be the Off Broadway of Melbourne with this production.” A great supporter of young talent, he later had the Playbox Theatre Company employ our Dusa set designer Daniel Coase as the set designer for their 1983 world premiere production of Woodworm which Malcolm directed for Playbox when their theatres were in Exhibition Street.


I had further contact with Malcolm in the 1990’s during my time with Gateway Theatre Productions when he directed several productions and I was the lighting designer – including a production of Macbeth! Many happy times and memories.

Goodbye and thank you to a wonderful man and a gentle gentleman.

Laurie Gellon


Editor's note:
Thank you to Laurie for providing this personal reflection on a great man of theatre in Melbourne. The Melbourne Theatre Company has also honoured Malcolm Robertson with this posting on their website CLICK HERE.

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Editor: Frank Page  M. 0417 010 817  E.

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