Time for TRTS to take a bow
TOOWOOMBA Repertory Theatre Society has something special lined up for Valentine's Day as it opens its 90th year of productions.
The Things We Do for Love, from Saturday, February 15, to February 29, comprises three short comedies and a tear-jerker, all about "l'amour".
It's fitting from a group that has well and truly shown its heart to survive through the Great Depression, a world war, the societal throws of Flower Power and the Vietnam War and the coming of the technology age. Formed at a public meeting in August 1930, its first president was Sir Littleton Groom and by November that year TRTS was ready for a two-night run of AA Milne's The Drover's Road on the town hall stage.
They didn't call their current Margaret St venue home until 1964, transforming a private residence to officially open the new theatre on August 1 for the production Watch It, Sailor.
"We're not professional but we work professionally," said administrative vice-president Cathy Nash, explaining TRTS's longevity.
A member since the 1980s, she said, "I just think it's a wonderful group of people who love the theatre, love performing and presenting good theatre and to hear the audience having a good time - that's a real kick."
She paid tribute to former artistic director Gwen Hart, with TRTS since 1974, as pivotal to the group's more recent history, including overcoming financial hiccups in the '80s and introducing the successful concept of group charity nights.
Instead of just four or five nights, each production now runs for 13 nights, 10 of which are fundraisers for charities including Rotary and Toowoomba Hospice, with three public nights.
The charities, some of which have been booking for more than a decade, just pay a hire fee of $600 for exclusive use of the theatre on the night and keep the profits of ticket sales.
Like many, Cathy has done pretty much every job in the theatre, from acting, directing, prompting, general backstage work and sound and lighting to front of house.
Outgoing president Liz Phythian does not act but said she joined TRTS for backstage roles in 2004 "because I wanted to see my husband", theatre enthusiast Mark, who is about to take over presidency. She said the 13-night run was "a big ask from performers", who also rehearsed three times a week for about two months.
Perhaps that's why there are a number of couples and family members involved.
Most of TRTS's 30-35 regular performers, she said, were over-55s and were always looking for more members of all ages for roles on and off-stage.
Comedies sell extremely well, while TRTS's production of Mousetrap was so popular it "could have sold out for a year".
But the trick, if there is one, is always having something new, with at least 10 years between any repetition of a play. This year's other productions are The Love List (May 9-24), The Murder Room (August 1-15) and One Slight Hitch (October 31-November 14).
As for 90th anniversary celebrations, there's nothing planned yet, but Cathy reckons they will keep a major celebration for their 100th, after all, "it's not that far away!".
Tickets for The Things We Do for Love (including pre-show drink and light supper) are available at www.try booking.com/BHISM, or the box office opens 11am-3pm Friday-Sunday on February 14; phone 4632 8058 or go to www.toowoombarep .com.au.