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Dear Shirley,

Great excitement this month on Albert Street with the opening ten days ago of our fourth production for 2014, Farragut North. Director Peter Newling writes in the program that the play is "gritty, brash and uncompromising with fantastic characters for a cast to get their teeth into". One can understand why it's getting such a brilliant response.

We learn on Facebook that said cast, getting their teeth into it, are actually Farragutlings! The same Facebook poster wished them well with the production - "may there be wailing and gnashing of teeth - in a good way - coz it's that sort of play." For those of you still to see the play, you're obviously in for a riveting night - enjoy.

Hard to believe but our 2015 Season is looming and in this edition we have details of Auditions for our first production of the new year - The Other Place. We welcome back Kris Weber after her great success with Almost, Maine, our first production this year.

One of our well known WLT identities, Barb Hughes, is currently having a fascinating time over in the USA. Barb has been posting some wonderful travellers tales on social media. By way of example we're including one of her latest, just in from New Orleans, along with a few images from Santa Fe, where she was earlier and where she met lots of identities and had a wonderful time. Barb's word pictures take you right to the scene - thanks for sharing with us Barb. Travel well and we look forward to having you home with us again soon.

We're now several months into using our new platform for creating and sending you Cues & News - MailChimp. The Communications Group at WLT is pretty happy with the way it's coming together and especially at the back-end, it's much smoother sailing for us. If you're wanting to ease things for your Inbox and feel the need to Unsubscribe - that's easily done by clicking the appropriate item at the bottom of this eNewsletter - we hope of course though that you will stay with us.

One little obvious hint for our online readers and most of you probably do this. If you find an image or some text too small - simply ZOOM your browser and make it all bigger! Enjoy...

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

FLAWLESS TEAMWORK

PRODUCTION COORDINATOR BACKGROUNDS THIS PRODUCTION

Farragut North opened on Thursday, 4 September, to a spellbound audience! As one Opening Nighter observed, “And you can just bet the same thing goes on in Canberra…they’re all bastards!” Subsequent audiences have been similarly absorbed and full of praise for this powerful drama.  

The seven actors are completely in the skin of their characters, and every nuance emerges with subtlety and impact. The audience follows intently, and their sympathies switch as characters follow their choices, make their moves and counter-moves in their quest of power. The writing is taut, and is brought to life by Tim Constantine, Melanie Rowe, Stephen Shinkfield, Chris Baldock, Rowan Howard…all familiar to WLT audiences… and Madeleine McKinlay and John Murphy… very welcome newcomers to our stage.

Director Peter Newling (pictured working with some cast) and Assistant Director Janine Evans have done a wonderful job in casting excellent actors and trusting them to develop characters and flawless teamwork. Similar teamwork backstage ensures this play slides smoothly from scene to scene, emphasised by lighting and sound. Connie Bram runs her backstage team with calm efficiency, capably assisted by Kat Smolcic and Rowan Howard. In the final week, Brett Turner will stage manage. Sound and light operators are Rob Edwards and Alex Carroll, the talented team who operated Almost, Maine earlier this year.

As ever, these onstage and backstage teams are just the tip of the iceberg! During the many weeks that the actors were rehearsing, lots of people were involved in the many aspects of this production. George Tranter designed and helped build the multi-area set and Brian Christopher led the construction team… our ‘regulars’ who did their usual amazing job: Ray Hare, Bryan Thomas, Laurice Banwell, David Dare, Alex Begg, and Neil Williamson. In addition, Peter Newling, Alexandra Almond and Cate Nienaber helped with painting.

Craig Pearcey did a beautiful lighting design, particularly the Stars and Stripes that flooded the stage with spectacular effect. Bruce Parr and Jeff Saliba produced a wonderful audio design. Audiences especially love the last song!

Tony Tartaro worked for weeks on the costumes, acquiring them andconstructing some, including the very natural-looking padding for the character Paul. His passion for accurate detail ensured characters wore ID cards, campaign rosettes and US flag lapel pins. The right ‘look’ always enables actors to fully inhabit their characters, and this certainly applies to the complete credibility of Farragut North. Tony re-assembled the ‘ancient Roman Sewers’ who did the Forum costumes last year, some returnees and a welcome newcomer,  to assist with the final touches and alterations to the costumes: Maggie McInnes, Moira Smith, Kay Hambling and Jayde Hollingsworth.

New member Penny Heslin acquired props with great diligence and enthusiasm, including authentic newspapers and Pepto-Bismol for the dyspeptic Paul. She was assisted by Kat Smolcic, who is responsible for them during the show.

The wonderful photography was by Blake Stringer… whose performance in Morning Departure we enjoyed last year. You’ll see his production shots on the ‘moving screens’ in the foyer from November.

Peta Ripper and I provided production coordination and support. And foyer décor!

Shirley Sydenham
Production Coordination


 
With thanks to Blake Stringer for wonderful images from Farragut North.

AUDITIONS - THE OTHER PLACE

Audition Requirements:

Please prepare a contemporary stage piece lasting 2 - 3 minutes. This should be set to impress. Neutral American accent required. There will also be reads from the script. 

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

To make an appointment, please contact Shirley Sydenham, surely@bigpond.net.au

BACKSTAGE WORKSHOP

If you would like to attend the workshop, please let Neil Williamson know: neilw@australiaonline.net.au or 0419 223 330

Barb Hughes - Travellers Tales

Those of us on Facebook have been treated to some amazing travellers tales recently by our very own Barbara Hughes. These highly descriptive and ever entertaining tales bring it all to vivid colourful life. Big thanks to Barb for allowing us to share this with you.



New Orleans Days 1&2 - Gina and Jo Jo, Mauricio and Damaris, and a bunch of pirates.

 

Friday 11am
I'm sitting under a marquee on the banks of the Mississippi in the middle of the most incredible thunderstorm. The water is creeping up on all sides and I think we'll soon have to sing Nearer My God to Thee.

I arrived in New Orleans at 7pm last night after a tedious day of travelling. After ditching my bags I headed off for my first view of the river - lovely in the twilight. A much-needed dinner then a walk down Bourbon Street. What an awful place, full of drunks and men's clubs. If that yobbo at LA airport was heading for New Orleans, this is where you'd find him. An early night at the Hotel Place D'Armes. Only my sister would recommend a dry hotel (possibly the only one in town) but it's pretty and really well located right in the centre of the French Quarter.

If Santa Fe is a benign Indian woman basking under clear blue skies, New Orleans is a French whore, lifting her skirts for all to see. The architecture in the French Quarter is eclectic and charming - narrow streets lined with two storey buildings with cast iron balustrades.

My morning walk takes me down Royal Street and around to the French Markets - lots of alligator heads and voodoo dolls. On a stroll around Jackson Square, I visit the lovely old cathedral and happen upon a jazz group playing 'Cabaret'. This is more like it. As I'm wandering down to catch the Steamboat Natchez, there's an almighty crack of thunder and the skies opened.

Friday 1pm - Along came Gina.
Thankfully the storm passed and we had a pleasant tootle up the river. Not exactly Showboat but still a nice thing to do. I sat down to listen to Duke Heilger and the Steamboat Stompers play some jazz and I must have been looking a bit Blanche Dubois because Gina (pictured), the hostess from the boat, sat down to talk to me. What a lovely, funny woman. She reminded me instantly of Suzanne Patterson. She told me some hilarious stories* then gave me a map and marked every good bar in the city on it. I happened to mention that I like to sing so before I knew it, I'd arranged to meet her at a bar for Happy Hour and then on to karaoke. As I was walking away from the boat I heard 'Alexander's Rag Time Band' ringing out over the square. I hurried back to the boat in time to hear 'After the Ball is Over' being played on a steam calliope. I might have had a little cry.

Friday 4.30pm till late.
I spent a couple of very hot and steamy hours walking around the French Quarter until it was time to meet Gina at one of the hundred of bars. She had her friend JoJo with her and she told me that her plans had changed and that she wouldn't be able to make it to the karaoke. We had a drink, then another one and suddenly it was 7pm. JoJo ordered food and I found myself eating alligator, crawfish and shrimp. The alligator was surprisingly good. JoJo is just as funny as Gina and we laughed ourselves silly.

And, of course, we ended up at the karaoke at The Cat's Meow. Gina sang 'Suspicious Minds' and I did 'Big Spender' which was very well received - someone even threw a dollar at me. When Gina and JoJo left about 9pm a very lovely young couple called Mauricio and Damaris joined me at the table. Mauricio lives in N.O. and Damaris was visiting him from New York. They were just delightful. Damaris knew the words to every song but was too shy to get up. The whole evening was huge fun and I fell into bed,very happy, about midnight.

Saturday 11am.
My room at the hotel had no windows and, when I woke up at 11 o'clock, I thought for a moment that I'd slept all day. By the time I stumbled out it was 11.30 and blazing hot. I booked a walking tour around the French Quarter and the cemetery and while I was waiting for it to start, a parade came down the street. They were all dressed as pirates and were raising money for the Make A Wish Foundation. I enjoyed the tour which gave us a potted history of New Orleans and the French Quarter and explained the architecture. The cemetery was also interesting. With only a couple of hours to spare I had to decide between the museum and the streetcar. The streetcar won and for a $3 round trip, I went all the way uptown and back then got off and walked around the Garden District. The contrast between this neighbourhood and the French Quarter couldn't be more marked. Large, beautiful houses, many of them modelled on the antebellum plantation houses. You can almost hear the money dripping off the oak and magnolia trees.

Back in the French Quarter it was time to check out one of Gina's bars, the carousel bar at the Monteleone Hotel. I'd just sat down when I found myself surrounded by pirates. Any conversation that starts with 'Aaaaaarrrrrr' has got to be good. These were three couples in town for the Make A Wish parade and they were gearing up for a very big night. Before I knew it I had a Red Slut shot in front of me. I returned the favour by introducing them to Flickers. Then another drink appeared in front of me sent by 'the couple on the other side of the bar'. I looked over to see Mauricio and Damaris smiling back at me. We had another nice chat and then Damaris told me that, although she lived only 40 minutes out of Manhattan, she's never seen a Broadway show. I have every intention of fixing that on Tuesday.

I had booked to see a play at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, a community theatre in the French Quarter and, with no time to get back to the hotel, I decided to eat at the bar of the restaurant adjoining the theatre. There I met the lovely, friendly Frank. He and his partner Lou had just managed to get out before Hurricane Katrina and spent 10 days living out of their car (like trailer trash!) One of his neighbours spent three days on her roof. Apart from some underwear and their pets, all they took was the cutlery so, even if they lost their house, they'd be able to set a nice table. Hilarious.

The play was quite funny. It was a six-hander about Sonya and her gay brother, Vanya, who are living a miserable dead-end life in a house owned by their sister Masha, a famous actress. When Masha comes to visit with her much younger, extremely sexy boyfriend, everything goes to God. Unfortunately the man playing Vanya was awful, but the rest of the cast was good, especially the young man playing Spike and the woman playing Cassandra, the mad housekeeper.

On the way home I met a gypsy called Demity who gave me a ridiculous, funny Tarot reading.

This is one wicked city. I'm going to have to come back.

*Gina's story. She has a schnauzer called Kaiser Wilhelm and her friend (let's call her Mary) has a chihuahua. They were walking the dogs one morning when it got really hot, really quickly and they wanted to cool off with a beer. The bar didn't allow dogs but Gina had a plan. When she got to the door and the doorman stopped her she told him she was blind and that Kaiser Wilhelm was her seeing-eye dog. 'Really? he said. 'A schnauzer as a seeing-eye dog?' 'Oh yes,' says Gina. 'They're highly intelligent.' Then it was Mary's turn. She tried the same routine and the doorman said, 'Oh come on. A chihuahua as a seeing-eye dog?' And Mary replied, 'They gave me a chihuahua?'

Two pictures from Santa Fe below.

For Pete's Sake

Hello everyone and welcome to September. Spring has finally arrived! Hooray!!

Okay – this is going to sound a bit strange, coming from the director of our current production, but my theme for this article is:

“It‘s perfectly okay to NOT like a show”.

I have a pretty eclectic taste in theatre – I love stupid comedies, and I love edge-of-the-seat character dramas. I really like wordy plays, and plays that play on words. I have no stomach for schmaltz, nor people breaking into song or dancing with/near/at each other. Many of my closest theatre friends are completely the opposite. They would rather scoop their eyeballs out with a spoon than sit through something by Tom Stoppard, whose writings I adore. And that’s great! How boring would it be if we all liked the same thing!

If you see a play that’s not your cup of tea, see if you can identify what it was you didn’t like about it. It might be the play itself, or the style of play. It might be that you found the plot silly, or just didn’t care about the central point the author was trying to make. It might’ve been a good play, but you would’ve preferred to see it done differently. That’s okay. We’ve all been there!

To me, going to the theatre is a bit like going to a restaurant with a set menu. You might see/smell/taste something you’ve never seen/smelt/tasted before, and be better for the experience. On the other hand you might find something you’ll know NEVER to order next time you see it on a menu!! Someone else will have adored the course you pushed aside.

Just because you don’t like a particular show doesn’t mean that you don’t like live theatre. It’s a bit like Melbourne weather – if you don’t like what’s here now, just wait a little while and something more to your liking will come along (did I mention that spring has arrived?).

The challenge for theatre companies like WLT then, is to make sure our program of plays is varied enough that, if you don’t like the current show, the chances are pretty good that you’ll be blown away by the next one. I’m really looking forward to the release of our 2015 season – I’m sure our Play Selection Committee will have something special lined up for us all. 

See you in the foyer.

Peter  

Diary Dates









Sunday 21 September 1.00 pm


Bump out Farragut North, from about 5.30/6.00pm, whenever you can get there. The set will be coming down, foyer will be restored to normal, props returned upstairs, outdoor furniture goes back into its between-show storage.. lots to do. Meal and excellent jollity provided.

Tuesday 23 September 5.30 pm onwards

Set construction begins and continues every Saturday afternoon from about noon.
Enquiries: Brian Christopher  0458 134 469

Saturday 27 September noon onwards






















The Other Place
by Sharr White
Director: Kris Weber

Audition:
Monday 10 November from 7.30 pm

Season: 12-28 February 2015

PRINCE ALBERT HOTEL CHANGES HANDS

Very sorry to bid farewell to Ash and Jess Bettenay from the Prince Albert, over the road. WLT has had a great relationship with the pub over all the years we have operated from our Albert Street premises - the old Bakery! Ash and Jess arrived at the pub some years ago and did wonders with the joint - great food and welcoming hospitality. We wish both of them the very best in their new venture which no doubt we'll all learn more about soon.

We're delighted to welcome Michael Sneddon and his Dad, John Sneddon who are taking over the Prince Albert in the coming weeks! Make yourself known to these very friendly chaps. They're looking forward to a new adventure and putting their own little spin on the pub as they look forward to welcoming local and new faces along the way. We look forward to continuing the close relationship between the theatre and the pub. Best of luck to them.

Members & Friends


Leaping Lizards, Bob Harsley (our very own) is back on a musical theatre stage again! That's right, he's been cast in Nova's production of Cats coming up in October/November. As best we can remember, this year he's been in Oliver and Gypsy and directed STAG's The Secret Tent, not to mention the back end of 2013 with our fabulous Forum at WLT. Chookas to Bob for another triumph on the boards.











 

--ooOOOoo--
 
We love our Front of House volunteers with all their dedication and commitment. One such volunteer is the lovely Margaret Hammon. She was at Farragut North one night recently. Margaret was heard to say; "Fabulous show, Shirley. Williamstown never fails to amaze me with the quality of shows, the actors and the sets. It is also a lovely place to work FOH." Thanks Margaret, great to have your feedback.
 
--ooOOOoo--
 
We usually have to wait until the end of a show to see our actors out of character - that moment when they appear in the foyer to be greeted with all the plaudits and congratulations of their adoring fans. Well, we thought you'd like to see the Farragutlings out of character on opening night in their dressing room. They look to be a pretty happy bunch and well they might be with their hit show eliciting such a positive response. Congratulations to all of them for a job very well done. Selfie courtesy of Chris Baldock.



--ooOOOoo--

 
When you turn to the back of your program you will see a list of the WLT Life Members. These are folk who have had a long association with the theatre and have contributed significantly to the success and ongoing operation of the company. One such Life Member is the doyen or Grand Mother of the theatre, Ella Bambery, our oldest life member. Ella has just celebrated her 97th birthday and all at WLT wish her many happy returns and many more birthdays to come. Apart from being a staunch and committed WLT member Ella has also appeared on our stage in a host of different productions. See pictures below for some of Ella's onstage career at WLT.


Ella left

Ella seated right

Unmistakable Ella

 

Ella's daughter Christine Hurwood, also a former WLT actor, tells us that at 97 there shouldn't be 60+ people coming to Ella's party, but each year the numbers seem to grow. Trying to remember people's names seems to be an issue and so this year name tags were introduced to great effect! A wonderful party was held recently to mark Ella's birthday. Happy Birthday Ella!
Here's Christine, Ellis Ebell and Ella chatting at intermission at one of last week's Farragut North performances.


 
--ooOOOoo--
 
Somewhat belatedly it's time to recognise another Life Member and another important birthday. Joan Lindsay turned 80 several months ago and some of her WLT mates marked the event at dinner at the RSL prior to an early July performance of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. Joan of course was in the company of Doug Lindsay, her husband, and another WLT Life Member. In fact both of them are in the growing ranks of over 80 year old WLT Life Members - such an illustrious alumni! Joan and Doug are making a major house move at the moment and we wish them well for all that.

Here's Joan and Ella at that Farragut North performance last week. Happy birthday to both of them...

THE KITCHEN SINK


Auditions for our final show for the year were conducted last weekend by Director Lois Collinder. We all eagerly await the announcement of the cast for this funny and tender play. Be aware also that there are very few seats remaining available for this production. Put your skates on if you want tickets -
CLICK HERE for Bookings.
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Editor: Frank Page  M. 0417 010 817  E. frank@pagebell.com

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