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15 July 2014

Dear Friend,

It's July already and we bid fond farewell to Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, with their season ending last Saturday. Another wonderful production that captivated our audiences.

Apologies to our snail-mail recipients of Cues & News for your black and white edition in June. We had a problem with the theatre printer and had to resort to the services of Officeworks!

Farragut North will be our next production and it promises to be a brash and gripping political drama to engross and entertain us. Auditions have taken place and details of the fabulous cast and crew are here for you. Thanks to Peter Newling, Director for some background notes on a play that is going to have us on the edges of our seats.

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

Farragut North

by Beau Willimon,
Directed by Peter Newling

Next Stop - Farragut North

Hands up if you’re a fan of the West Wing. Okay – good. There’s a few of us that like American political drama. Hands up if you like House of Cards – the American version of the gritty political drama starring Kevin Spacey. If you have your hand up, you’re in for a treat. House of Cards was written by Beau Willimon – the same guy who wrote WLT’s next production – Farragut North. Finally, hands up if you liked the George Clooney / Ryan Gosling film The Ides of March. You’ll be pleased to know that that film is based on the play Farragut North.

Those familiar with House of Cards will know that Willimon’s writing is blunt, hard hitting and takes no prisoners. He specialises in writing for power hungry characters that have a ‘whatever it takes’ quality - and this is just as effective in his writing for the stage as it is for TV. The language is raw and contemporary. For those who don’t like that kind of language, we hope you’ll put that to one side, accept that this is the way these people talk, and let the characters take you on their journey.

The play follows the lives of four Democrat staffers in the lead up to the fictional 2010 Presidential election. Their entire lives are dedicated to ensuring that their guy, Governor Michael Morris of Pennsylvania, gets the nod to be the Democratic Party’s nominee – and nothing will distract them from this quest. Their politics is about alliances and retribution, shady deals and broken promises. Sound familiar?!

But what’s a Farragut North

Farragut North is a metro station on the Red Line servicing Farragut Square in downtown Washington DC. It is the hub of the district that provides work for political lobbyists and pressure groups. If you’re working in Farragut Square, it means you’re not working in the Whitehouse. It’s the gathering place for failure – for political hacks and washed up wannabees. It’s for people with connections, but no power. Farragut North is the end of the line for a political career.

WLT has assembled a stellar cast to bring you this riveting piece of modern theatre. We welcome Tim Constantine back to WLT in the pivotal role of Steve – the campaign’s Communications Director. Tim was last seen on our stage as a dodgy priest in Doubt: a Parable, and before that in Dealer’s ChoiceGross Indecency and Old Wicked Songs. Steve Shinkfield will be taking on the role of Campaign Manager, Paul Zara. Steve last graced our stage in God of Carnage, and before that in  'Allo 'Allo!, A Few Good Men and Role Play and old friend Chris Baldock – who has directed many of our most memorable productions – will be making an all-too-rare on-stage appearance, as the Campaign Manager for the opposition camp, Tom Duffy. Melanie Rowe returns to the WLT stage after portraying the older sister in Proof earlier this year. Prior to that, she appeared in The Beauty Queen of Leenane and 'Allo 'Allo! amongst others.  We also welcome back to the WLT stage Rowan Howard, who audiences will remember from Almost, Maine earlier this year.

And we are thrilled to welcome two newbies to the WLT stage. The role of Ben, the young communications whiz-kid will be played by John Murphy, and the challenging role of Molly will be played by Madeleine McKinlay. Both of these actors come with impressive CVs, and I’m sure you’ll join us in welcoming them to the WLT family.

On the design front, Craig Pearcey will be weaving his magic on the lighting plot, Bruce Parr will be providing the soundscape, George Tranter will be designing the set, and the ever wonderful Tony Tartaro is in charge of the cozzies. Peta Ripper is our Production Coordinator, and the Director, Peter Newling will be ably assisted by the indefatigable Janine Evans. We are currently Stage-Manager-less, but we hope that situation will be resolved very soon.

The 2014 season at WLT has certainly been a mixture of genres and styles. From the delightful whimsy of Almost Maine, through the poignancy of family relationships in Proof, to the upbeat brassiness of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks – we now approach the brash rawness of Farragut North. Something for everyone!!!

Farrugut North First Read-through

Director Peter Newling hasn't wasted any time with rehearsals for this production with the first read-through last week at his home.


Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks - the Director Reflects

What a wonderful journey we have all been on and I feel privileged to have been asked to direct it for Williamstown Little Theatre.

Apart from being a wonderful human story, it gives the actors the chance to shine in a play that tests their comic, dramatic and dancing talents and I must say that Colin Morley and Christine Andrew have more than risen to the challenge and I congratulate them on their performances.

I have also been blessed with great support and in  no particular order would like to acknowledge Judi Clark, my assistant, for her support, input and being the ”word police”.  David Dare for his wonderful set and constant support.  Tony Tartaro for his amazing costumes and his attention to detail.  Bruce Parr who sourced all the music used in the play.  Deryk Hartwick who knew just how to get the effects I was after with all the dance numbers. Jake Privett and Patrick Slee who have been incredibly focused in making the play work at every performance and Neil Williamson and Roger Forsey, who were both present when required to offer technical support.  And finally to Bob Harsley our Production Co-ordinator, who answered every question and sourced whatever was required.  It has been a joy and audience reaction and comment has made it all worthwhile for us all.

Thank you Willie.

Alan Burrows


by Patrick Slee
Sound & Lighting Operator

Backstage at Williamstown Little Theatre – well, it most certainly is an experience. Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, while being small in cast is anything but when it comes to the size of the show. The show jumps from arguments to hilarious one-liners to heartfelt discussions with each scene and every time catches it right on the mark. Even from my little corner backstage, I am frequently moved by the performances of our leading lad and lady. And if that’s my impression from watching a tiny monitor, I can only imagine what it’s doing for the audience!

My job is one of technical precision and finesse – well, maybe not. But controlling the lights and sound can be trying at times, especially at first. And you have to be concentrating fiercely because a lot of the time you’re getting a visual cue like a light-switch or turning on a CD player – sometimes even a very specific pattern in a dance.


In between the scenes, our little corridor became a veritable zoo! From the beautiful composed final pose on the balcony of Lily’s apartment, Colin (Michael Minetti) comes running offstage, tearing his clothes off and throwing them to the floor while sliding seamlessly into his next shirt that I am holding out for him. Once he’s ready to go, up come the lights and we begin the next scene, leaving our excellent stage manager and houseboy, Jake Privett, to clean up our mess. At one of the later dress rehearsals, changing Colin's “Zorro outfit” into a full tuxedo caused us a bit of bother when a technical gremlin distracted us, resulting in Michael entering the apartment shoes in hand and jacketless – whoops.

But it’s not all madness and mayhem behind the scenes. To keep our nerves down before the show and at interval, our assistant director and frock-changer uses our brains to help with particularly tough newspaper crosswords and nine-letter-words.

It’s a shame that the play is now over but, thanks to the cast and crew and the most excellent script – to paraphrase Michael Minetti, “This may be my first play, but I think it’ll always be my best.”
Reviews for Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks will appear in your August edition of Cues & News.

Members & Friends


Long term members and friends of WLT will remember the landmark production of Peter Shaffer's Equus in 1981. This production was directed by highly respected Director and Designer Grahame Murphy who also created the horse masks for the production. Ellis Ebell WLT Life Member, Actor and Director played the lead horse Nugget in an earlier staging of Equus by Grahame at Pumpkin Theatre. Grahame and Ellis actually made the Equus horse masks which are still part of the WLT collection of props. Ellis is pictured here wearing one of the horse masks. In the WLT production Ellis choreographed the horses.

Over the years WLT has regularly hired out the masks and we are delighted that the most recent hiring has seen them appear on national television in the finals of The Voice. Barb Hughes, who when not directing or performing, is also responsible for the WLT Wardrobe, handled the packaging and despatch of four of our masks to Sydney for this appearance.
The masks made the briefest of appearances, just seconds, in a swirling mass of stage smoke accompanying Kat Jade (pictured) singing Dark Horse. So if you'd like to see the WLT masks and Kat singing click here for the video link.
It's time to salute and celebrate a significant birthday for one of the theatre's living treasures. In actual fact he's our living Treasurer, Brian Christopher, who recently passed the three score mark, just 8 years short of the age of the theatre! Brian is much more at WLT than just the Treasurer. His leadership and guidance is one of the strengths of the fantastic organisation that we have. He is also ever present and a major part of the set construction team and will always be seen at working bees of any description. He's not always back of house either, often being seen on our stage and last year appeared in both 33 Variations and Morning Departure as well as working backstage on A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Brian was awarded Best Supporting Actor in a Drama by the VDL for his role in 33 Variations. So, hail Brian and happy birthday to one of our esteemed stalwarts and wishing you many happy returns. To help celebrate we include an earlier casting picture of Brian from our archives.


Well thank goodness someone was paying attention. Last month we again promoted Amy Joseland (Grove Rogers) to the role of a former WLT President, a mistake we've made once before! Amy was Secretary for several years and Treasurer for about 10 years and she used to do lot of other things around the theatre, but never President. Thanks to Laurie Gellon for correcting the record. Laurie advises that he'll be over from South Australia for Cordell Day later in the year. This of course provides the perfect opportunity to send greetings to Amy via Cues & News which she still receives and reads.
The Western Suburbs is such a cultural hub. Not only do we have Williamstown Little Theatre but we also have other theatre companies including the musical folks and heaps more. We also have amazing events like the recent Newport Folk Festival at The Substation, just near Newport Station. Congratulations to Barbara Hughes and Bernadette Wheatley (pictured below), two of WLTs leading ladies for their absolutely wonderful performances, along with a bunch of other talented women, in the fabulous Fem Vox, Songs of Sirens, Seduction & Revolution. So popular was their show that an extra performance had to be scheduled.


Talking of living treasures, Roger Forsey our Technical Director (not sure what his title is, but that will do!) absolutely fits the criteria. His technical know-how is called upon in every conceivable area of the theatre's activity. His latest initiative has been the introduction of RGB LED strips as step illumination (pictured) in the theatre. Lighting the steps  is critical for everyone's comfort and safety, and this technology is doing the job perfectly. It can be remotely controlled and the colour of the light can be changed to suit the mood!


Roger tells us that this is part of his CIP (Constant Improvement Program) and his next venture involves the heating and cooling where improvements will enhance the performance of this important infrastructure. We're going to miss Roger when he and wife Wendy head off to Europe in mid August and will be away for a two month holiday. Their river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam sounds like a pretty epic voyage. Bon voyage Roger and safe travels - we'll miss you.

For Pete's Sake


Hi everyone,

I hope you enjoyed Six Dance Lessons as much as I did. What a delightful production for a winter's evening. Two very strong performances, and a very entertaining plotline. Congratulations to Alan, Christine, Colin and the gang.

Did you know that by the time the play had its opening night, it was already over 98% sold out? It's one of the joys of having an intimate theatre space - you can usually be assured you'll be playing to full houses! The good news is, if you missed the show at Williamstown, you can catch the same production over at the Peridot Theatre Company in Mount Waverley in early 2015.

I'm sure it has been happening for years, but we seem to be seeing more of this phenomenon of shows being 'shared' by theatre companies. You may recall our productions of The History Boys and Glorious a few years back? They were shared with our friends over at the Heidelberg Theatre Company. There were some variations in cast between seasons, but they were essentially the same show.

I guess it makes sense. It takes considerable volunteer hours to build a set, assemble the props, and find and rehearse a cast. If we can minimise some of that, surely that's a good thing?

I wonder if we'll start to see the more popular shows being 'booked' by other companies - such that shows end up touring for a while. I wonder if theatres of a similar stage size and audience demographic will start to work more closely together on constructing their seasons. Could companies sell seasons to each other?

I love that it's encouraging dialogue between theatre companies. Theatre has become a bit competitive over the last couple of decades. It'd be great to recapture a time when companies worked together to promote live theatre, and help each other be the best we can be.

Maybe Williamstown should be sharing more productions. Or does that diminish our uniqueness? What do you think?

See you in the foyer.




Click anywhere on the above ad for a direct email link to Barbara Hughes for your RSVP.

Oops, sorry and did you know?

We thought we were so clever whipping the above invitation out to the database and giving you a CLICK HERE option to RSVP directly to Barb. That would have worked out just fine had we not transcribed the wrong email address!! We took the decision to correct the email address and push it out a second time. Apologies for any inconvenience this created for you.

Just a reminder too,  Cues & News is now distributed to a wide database which includes not only members, but also all patrons who book to see our shows. If you do not wish to receive our monthly newsletter please take advantage of our Unsubscribe option which appears at the bottom of this email.

Wherever you see an email address underlined in Cues & News you can click on it and be taken to a blank email form addressed to the relevant person. Just an easy way for you to make the connection. 

If you accidentally delete Cues & News and wish to reread it copies of every edition can be found on the website - click here.



There’s been a bit of refreshing activity around WLT of late…

A few weeks ago a group that included regular working bee attendees, backstage people and Committee members participated in a full day First Aid session. For most, it was to refresh and renew their certificates and for a few, it was to gain the qualification. While it was of course a serious matter, the scenarios at the end were very dramatic, and the foyer was filled with ‘severed limbs’, someone with a screwdriver ‘embedded’ in his midriff,  rubber snakes, huge rubber spiders and moaning injured, while others were ‘slipping’ in the blood they figured had to be pumping all over the place.  I guess our trainer has learned the dangers of doing scenarios with theatre people!! 

Talking of refreshers, the first wave of our RSA people have done the online refresher course. There’ll be a number of people due to do that next year, in January and September respectively. I will send you a reminder and the link as that time approaches.  Meanwhile,  Bob Harsley is in the process of organising another RSA course, so anyone who does Front of House who would like to do the course, please contact Bob on The course is an easy few hours, you can use the certificate anywhere in Victoria, and it will increase the number of RSA certificate holders working FOH, which will make compiling the roster easier.

Shirley Sydenham




Farragut North Set Construction
From Saturday 19 July  1.00 pm onwards

Enquiries: Brian Christopher  M. 0458 134 469

Friday 25 July 7.30 pm
RSVP: Barbara Hughes                                                       T. 9397 3054  E.


Farragut North
by Beau Willimon
Director: Peter Newling

Open Rehearsal:
Sunday 10 August 3.30 pm
Season: 4 - 20 September



We drew this production to your attention back in April, identifying its strong WLT representation. Well they're done with rehearsing and are now live on stage with their opening night on 11 July. Here are some of the key cast members with WLT's Matthew Williamson (middle left), Bob Harsley (next right) and Samantha Hammersley (right). Chookas to them all.


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Editor: Frank Page    M. 0417 010 817  E.
Copyright © 2014 Williamstown Little Theatre, All rights reserved.

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