Ghosts of Theatre Past

Coral Drouyn looks at myths and traditions that are part of our love of theatre.

Do you believe in ghosts? Even a little bit? Chances are if you have ever stepped upon a stage in a theatre more than 100 years old, you have been watched from the wings by one. Spooky, literally. Melbourne’s Princess Theatre has its own benign ghost - Federici – so popular they named a restaurant after him and keep a seat for him on every opening night. More on Fred later.

Stephen Sewell’s Furies

Australia’s celebrated, most political, surely most impassioned playwright Stephen Sewell shares his life’s anger and achievements with Martin Portus. He decries our mainstage theatres as dominated by “exclusive gangs” bereft of artistic directors able to develop new work.

Stephen Sewell returned six years ago to live in the gritty western Sydney suburb of his childhood. With his young family, he’s back to the same Granville house, even sleeping in his old bedroom.    

Love At First Seat

See or act in a musical as a child and you’re hooked for life. That is the belief and experience of Coral Drouyn. She speaks to grown up child stars Tony Sheldon and Michael Dalton and explores the mystique that Musical Theatre holds for young and old.

The Complete Works of David Williamson

David Williamson - Australia’s most prolific and successful playwright - is calling an end to his remarkable career of 50 years. Martin Portus reviews his legacy.

Note: This article was originally written for the March / April 2020 edition of Stage Whispers, before Covid-19 cut short some of the seasons mentioned.

Williamson wants to go out with a bang and – if he is actually going – the fireworks are certainly aligning. First up, he’s just blown out 78 candles.  

Aussie Musical Theatre Pioneers

There was a time when imported stars always scored the leading roles in musicals staged in Australia. Leading lady legends Nancye Hayes, Toni Lamond and Jill Perryman, and dancer Kevan Johnston led the charge to showcase local talent. Peter Eyers spoke to the four pioneers for his Stages podcast.

The Pajama Game

Is the game I’m in.

And I’m proud to be

In the Pajama Game

I love it!

Theatre Treasures in Safe Hands

Dr Rodney Seaborn dedicated himself to the development of Sydney theatre 33 years ago by establishing a philanthropic foundation to restore Sydney theatres, support the creators of new productions and to collect and preserve cultural heritage.

He scoured the city and enticed theatre lovers to lodge their memories, records and artifacts with his archive.

Bran Nue Dae

As Australian opera companies collaborate to revive a ‘national treasure’, Peter Wyllie Johnston takes us through the 30 year history of this landmark Australian musical.

Archival Gold

The good thing about searching the internet is you often come across clips from past musicals that you never knew existed. Frequently archival material surfaces from Broadway shows but it’s rare to find anything from an early Australian musical. Imagine my surprise when I came across Jill Perryman and Kevan Johnston in clips from TVW7 Perth’s production of The Good Oil (1965). Written by Coralie Condon and originally staged at the Perth Playhouse in 1958, the story was based around the 1950s oil boom in Perth.

Alana Valentine: Our Master Storyteller

From prisoners to footballers, from gay men in Broome to Muslims in hijabs, Alana Valentine shines a spotlight on communities shattered by flood, train wreck, abuse and injustice. Martin Portus explores Valentine’s forensic approach to expressing their passions, habits and secrets on stage – in their own words.

Armed with meticulous research, persistence and a cool empathy, Alana Valentine has learnt how to move tactfully through diverse communities across Australia, question both leaders and fellow travellers, find their fault-lines and craft the drama.