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The online magazine of Theatre Heritage Australia

Latest Articles

  • Aggie Thorn: A Bright Particular Star (Part 1)

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    Bob Ferris
    In the first of a new two-part article, BOB FERRIS takes a look at the career of a young Melbourne-born performer, Aggie Thorn, who as a principal member of J.C. Williamson's Gilbert & Sullivan Repertoire Company in the early 1900s was considered to be one of the most promising young Australians of her...
  • The Melba-Williamson Grand Opera Company of 1924: 100 years on (Part 2)

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    Roger Neill
    2024 marks one hundred years since the Melba-Williamson Grand Opera Season of 1924, the most ambitious display of operatic talent to be seen in Australia. In Part 2, ROGER NEILL continues his exploration of the events surrounding this mighty undertaking. Ten and a half more weeks in Melbourne...
  • Little Wunder: The story of the Palace Theatre, Sydney (Part 13)

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    Elisabeth Kumm
    During 1912, Sydney’s little Pitt Street playhouse prospered, playing host to a range of attractions, from magic to drama. For a time, it established itself as a home for Australian plays as ELISABETH KUMM explains in Part 13 of the Palace Theatre story. Following the closure of Why Men Love Women...
  • From Pendle Hill to Monte Carlo

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    Wendy Barry
    Dear Editor At the age of fifteen, I became a dancer at the Tivoli Theatre in Sydney and danced in many of the shows. The article about Joy Nichols was one of them I still have the program with my name Wendy Burr as Showgirl. I had lied about my age, as I was pursuing a career as a ballerina,...
  • The Melba-Williamson Grand Opera Company of 1924: 100 years on (Part 1)

    Information
    Roger Neill
    2024 marks one hundred years since the Melba-Williamson Grand Opera Season of 1924, the most ambitious display of operatic talent to be seen in Australia. ROGER NEILL explores the events surrounding this mighty undertaking. Building a Grand Opera Company Melba, photographed by Ionides, London...
  • Ida Jennie St Leon: From acrobat to ingenue to actress (Part 1)

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    Mark St Leon
    MARK ST LEON is one of the foremost authorities on the history of circus in Australia. He is a descendent of the St Leon circus family, and the author of numerous books and articles on the subject. In the first of a two-part article looking at the life of his ancestor Ida St Leon (1894–1961), he...
  • The Leon Van Straten Recordings

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    Geoffrey Orr
    GEOFFREY ORR’s bio-discography of bandleader LEON VAN STRATEN came as a revelation to his son Frank. This comprehensive work is really a testament to two men: Leon Van Straten, a talented man, who together with his two brothers played ‘hot’ dance music for royalty, wealthy patrons and the general public...
  • Malcolm McEachern: Master of Song

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    Howard C. Jones
    Albury-born bass Malcolm McEachern (1883–1945) was a prolific recording artist and sang in some of the world’s greatest concert venues, but little is known of his early career struggles in Australia. HOWARD C. JONES, who has published the first full-length biography of McEachern, explains. Malcolm McEachern, a...
  • Jack O’Hagan’s Grand Passion

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    Jo Gilbert
    As the granddaughter of Jack O’Hagan and someone who knew him intimately, JO GILBERT is well-placed to write about Australia’s most famous songwriter. To coincide with the publication of her biography, Along the Road to Gundagai, Biography of Jack O’Hagan and Birth of Australian Pop Culture, we...
  • The Big Broadcast of 1924

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    Peter Burgis
    To mark 100 years since the first live stage broadcast in Australia, we revisit an article by PETER BURGIS published in On Stage back in 2006. With updates by Peter and new picture research and audio links by Rob Morrison. ‘Wireless enthusiasm is on the wane in Britain and America, and quite a...
  • Collits' Inn Revisited

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    Peter Pinne
    We celebrate another milestone with the republication of PETER PINNE’s 2007 On Stage article looking at the history of Varney Monk’s musical COLLITS’ INN, which was given its first professional production at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre in 1933 under the management of F.W. Thring. We are delighted...
  • Seymour Hicks & Ellaline Terriss’ 1924 Australian Tour (Part 1)

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    Robert Morrison
    In 1924–25 British actor-manager-playwright-author Sir Seymour Hicks (1871–1949) toured Australia and New Zealand with his wife, actress Ellaline Terriss (1871–1971) and daughter, Betty, (who subsequently made her stage début in Melbourne), under the management of Sir Benjamin and John Fuller in...
  • Kenyon Afterword

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    Martin Collins and J. Alan Kenyon; edited by Judy Leech
      The Spring 2023 issue of On Stage saw the last instalment of J. Alan Kenyon’s 14-part memoir in which he told of his long and fulsome career painting and designing sets for stage and film productions. We are grateful to his grandchildren Miles and Lisa Kenyon for providing access to the manuscript and...
  • The View from Prompt Corner: Tom Waits

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    Matthew Peckham
    In early 1981, Tom Waits embarked on a world tour to promote his new album Heartattack and Vine. Having played gigs in France, the UK, USA and New Zealand, he reached Australia in late September. The following month, in Melbourne,  MATTHEW PECKHAM had the chance to observe the man at close quarters...
  • Frank Neil - 'He Lived Show Business' (Part 5)

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    Frank Van Straten
    FRANK VAN STRATEN continues his exploration of the life and tumultuous times of one of Australia’s near-forgotten entrepreneurs. Frank Neil. State Library of Western Australia, Perth.Part 5: In 1936 Frank Neil explained to an Argus reporter the magic of a Tivoli show: ‘It is a crazy quilt of dance...
  • A Child Among You (Part 5)

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    Charles Heslop; with picture research and endnotes by Rob Morrison
    Central image shows Dress Circle of the Palace Theatre, Melbourne, 1924 Basking in the success of his theatrical seasons in Melbourne, comedian Charles Heslop took time out to indulge in a flight of fantasy in which he contemplated the homecoming of an English actor following a triumphant tour of...
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NOTABLE PRODUCTIONS
The Pajama Game

16 January 2024

The Pajama Game

Author: Frank Van Straten

The Pajama Game had its genesis in a novel, 7½ Cents, which author Richard Bissell based on his experiences in his family’s pajama factory in Dubuque, Iowa. Broadway producers Hal Prince and Robert Griffith saw the story’s musical possibilities and snapped up the rights, but persuading people to work on the project proved far more difficult.... Read more

The Girl Friend

15 November 2023

The Girl Friend

Author: Theatre Heritage Australia

The musical comedy entitled The Girl Friend that was seen in the West End in 1927 and subsequently in Australia, as staged by J.C. Williamson Ltd., was very different from that performed on Broadway in 1926, as it merely took the title and the hit songs from the Rodgers and Hart score, and grafted them onto the plot and song score from the... Read more

Madame Pompadour

9 August 2023

Madame Pompadour

Author: Kurt Gänzl

The most successful of the postwar works of Leo Fall, and one of his most delightful, Madame Pompadour was written for the Berlin theatre and as a vehicle for its reigning queen of the musical stage, Fritzi Massary. Like those of many Operetten before and since, the amorous adventures of the plot had little to do with the historical Madame... Read more

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