Life member Julanne Shearer with her husband, Bruce, who, like Leo Mevissen, right, is also a life member and past president. Note the posters for upcoming shows behind them.
Life member Julanne Shearer with her husband, Bruce, who, like Leo Mevissen, right, is also a life member and past president. Note the posters for upcoming shows behind them.

Little beauty to notch up big milestone

GOLD Coast Little Theatre is a treasure that everyone should know about as it celebrates its 70th year, according to life member Julanne Shearer.

"I think people who haven't been yet would be very pleasantly surprised if they went along and saw the high standard of production," Julanne said.

The Gold Coast's oldest community theatre, it started from humble beginnings as The south coast Little Theatre in 1950, becoming Gold Coast Little Theatre in 1969.

Fortunate to have bought its current 21 Scarborough St land for £1140 and been donated the land next door, GCLT called two military huts stacked on top of each other home from 1970 to 1983.

Those huts remain but today the lower level houses costumes and props, with the upper level forming rehearsal space.

Doors to the new $322,000 purpose-built theatre opened in July 1983 thanks to GCLT's own fundraising and a Queensland Government capital grant.

And the first play to be performed was The Crucible, fittingly directed by Julanne, who wrote the grant application and was involved in planning the 150-seat raked theatre.

"That was a great moment," Julanne said of the opening.

"The theatre itself is wonderful to work in, very intimate, and every seat in the house is a good seat, so it's a real asset to the Gold Coast."

Julanne joined GCLT back in 1976, having been involved in theatre in country Queensland since she was 16.

She has now directed about 20 GCLT productions, including 11 musicals, acted in another 11 and worked backstage on many more.

"It's a very important cultural activity for anyone to be involved in and has a great capacity to improve people's lives," Julanne said of being a theatre group member.

"It gives people confidence, makes them feel part of a community and taps into creative aspects and aspirations."

While 70th anniversary celebrations have yet to be finalised, Julanne said February's Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls was "a great way to start the year".

It's the tale of two unlikely friends in 1960s Outback Queensland, brought together by their passion for country and western, and features the music of Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, with a live band.

It will be followed from April 18-May 9 by high-energy 1960s rock'n'roll comedy Bye Bye Birdie.

Julanne said GCLT produced six shows each year and tried to ensure broad appeal, including musicals, comedy and drama.

Other shows on this year's schedule are the One-Act Play Festival, Metamorphoses, No Sex Please: We're British and Green Day's American Idiot.

Playgoers wanting an insight into productions are invited to Drinks with the Director, traditionally on the Tuesday before opening night.

While GCLT does have a strong membership of about 100 and a loyal following, Julanne said they were always keen to attract new audiences as well as new players and contributors.

"There are lots of different roles to play - on stage, directing, backstage, front of house, in the bar and kitchen," Julanne said.

As for her favourite show, Julanne said there were too many to choose from, although High Society and Camelot definitely ranked highly, as musicals do with audiences generally.

While competition may have become tougher since the 1950s, particularly recently with the opening of the refurbished HOTA, Julanne said GCLT was definitely able to punch above its weight.

And although the majority of members are seniors, she believes the future looks bright, with more new blood of all ages continually finding its way to them.

For details on GCLT, productions, including Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls until February 22 (adult $30), and membership ($20), go to https://gclt.com.au/, email mailbox@gclt.com.au, or phone 5532 2096 from two weeks before productions.

 

THEATRE HIGHLIGHTS

AT A GLANCE

- Started from humble beginnings as The South Coast Little Theatre in 1950, becoming Gold Coast Little Theatre in 1969.

- Fortunate to have bought its current land for £1140 and been donated the land next door, GCLT called two military huts stacked on top of each other home from 1970-83.

- Doors to the new $322,000 purpose-built theatre opened in July 1983 thanks to GCLT's own fundraising and a state government capital grant.

- The first play to be performed was the Crucible, fittingly directed by Julanne Shearer, who wrote the grant application and was involved in planning the 150-seat raked theatre. Julanne is a life member and a past president.

- GCLT has built up a loyal following of about 100 members.

- GCLT scored several Gold Palm Theatre Awards in 2018. These were for:

Best Set Design, Barmaids, Michael Sutton; Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Community Theatre Play, Run For Your Wife, Bob Allen; Best actor in a Leading Role in a Community Theatre Play, Barmaids, Kate McNair.

 

WHAT'S COMING UP

THIS SEASON

This special, 70th anniversary season will include: - Long Gone Lonesome Cowgirls

 

Bye Bye Birdie

One-Act Play Festival

No Sex Please: We're British

American Idiot.


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