Posts Tagged ‘Coolum Theatre Players


Coolum Theatre Players’ Urinetown

Coolum Theatre Players


Urinetown The Musical

Coolum Theatre Players Inc.

Coolum Civic Centre

26th – 28th October & 9th – 11th November 2012


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


“What kind of musical is this?!”


Urinetown is not your ordinary musical. If you know it, or if you’ve been following this blog, you would know it’s a parody of the musical genre with some pretty intense warnings about the overuse of natural resources. This production comes with an interesting twist. At its core is the driving character, Bobby Strong, who inspires a small revolution, as the people rise up and demand their right to pee for free. New to the Sunshine Coast and new to Coolum Theatre Players, Director and Musical Director Linda Gefken, has cast newcomer, Michelle Lamarca, in the role. Lamarca is terrific, particularly vocally, and the love story works, despite knocking for six a couple of the oldies in the matinee audience on the opening weekend! When they realised what was happening between Bobby and Hope there were audible gasps. I’m proud to say my six year old was completely au fait with the two girls falling in love and I didn’t need to “explain” anything. (But thanks for checking up on my parenting skills and reminding me that there are still great social changes necessary on the Sunshine Coast, concerned, conservative, local elderly lady!). It’s a brave choice and it works.


In another gender-blind casting decision, we see Coolum favourite, Jesse Hanna Ellison, in the role of Officer Lockstock, the (untouchable) narrator. Ellison’s dry delivery sets the tone of the show and keeps things moving at a nice pace. Ellison is a seasoned performer and her confidence shines through, with strong vocal work and a suitably caustic character at times, balanced beautifully with a tenderness in her conversations towards the conclusion, with Little Sally. There are only a couple of experienced performers gracing the stage – most of them have had little or no experience on stage – and for the first time ever in Coolum, it’s difficult for me to tell who those brand new performers are. Gefken’s touch?


Despite some rookie errors and several missed opportunities, this is a strong production for Coolum Theatre Players and they can be justifiably proud of their efforts. It’s a solid ensemble that will show increasing confidence as the season continues (they had a break over the weekend but you can catch the final three shows this weekend). I’m sure the company was told that they must stay interested in what’s happening and to maintain their characters even when they are not the centre of attention. I’d like to see those faces interested in what’s happening around them and see those reactions as if the thing was said for the first time. Focus and really listen. Harmonies are fine – there are some great new voices in there – and Run Freedom Run is a highlight. The band, and thus the company, is a little slow to get going but by Run Freedom Run you’ll be tapping your feet and clapping and singing along with them. Full marks to Lamarca for the power and ease with which she delivered her additional gospel style vocal line.


The costumes in this production are fantastic, largely sourced from a local hire shop and the set, dependent again as in previous productions in this venue, on projected images, was helped this time by the addition of a portable toilet on stage (PHONE 1800 POO WEE), which I felt was under utilised…but it was there.


Maia Knibb’s Hope Cladwell is as sweet as pie (but watch that accent!), and David Readett, who plays her father, Caldwell Cladwell, rouses laughs from everyone else but me; I felt the caricature and the incessant shouting too much. (Find the balance!). As Little Sally, Nikki Middleton does an admirable job and captures just as many hearts as Knibb does; so cute is she with her puppy and her too worldly comments and questions. I believe there was a bit of a cast shuffle at the last minute when the company had no boys to cast in those two leading roles and from what I can see, this is the best thing to have happened. Now the company need to work on their shuffle, their box step and on various other moves to show that they are also confident dancers.


Coolum Theatre Players continue to attract new, enthusiastic performers and Gefken’s production of Urinetown for them, has a terrific fresh energy to it, despite the slightly dubious content, themes and tone of the show! There are three more shows this weekend and at Coolum Civic Centre you’re welcome to take in your own little picnic for the table (our favourites are water crackers, pate, chunky dips, cherry tomatoes, blue cheese, brie, olives, bread, bubbly and sparkling mineral water for the children and DD’s!), so get a group together and get online and book before you miss this fun one!


Urinetown Coolum Theatre Players


Coolum’s Urinetown opens this weekend!

Coolum Theatre Players

Urinetown was last seen at Brisbane’s Schonell Theatre in August and now Coolum Theatre Players present the Sunshine Coast premiere

Director of Urinetown, Linda Gefken, recently moved to the Sunshine Coast and wass keen to become involved in the local community. Having been along to see Flying Feathers she approached the Coolum Theatre Players to become a part of this fun and friendly community theatre group.
Linda has moved from Perth, where she has worked in community theatre in many roles, both on stage and off. She was keen to share her experience and those of locals in the forthcoming production of Urinetown.
“I took a group of students from Perth to Sydney for a Choir and Band tour in 2007 and as part of the cultural experience we ‘took in a show’ by the Sydney Theatre Company. I was a little daunted by the title but with such a stellar cast I knew it would be an experience. Pardon the pun, both the students and I wet ourselves with laughter and thoroughly enjoyed the wet humour throughout the show.”
“It was the first time I had seen David Campbell and Lisa McCune on stage and they (along with other stellar cast members Shane Bourne and Rhonda Burchmore) really engaged the audience in their world of water-shortages and rampant capitalism.”
“It really will be worth ‘spending a penny’ to come and see this show. I guarantee you’ll “iss” yourself laughing. (Sorry, can’t afford to P.)”


One of the most uproariously funny musicals in recent years, URINETOWN is a hilarious tale of greed, corruption, love, and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold. In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. Amid the people, a hero decides he’s had enough, and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom!
Inspired by the works of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, URINETOWN is an irreverently humorous satire in which no one is safe from scrutiny. Praised for reinvigorating the very notion of what a musical could be, URINETOWN catapults the “comedic romp” into the new millennium with its outrageous perspective, wickedly modern wit, and sustained ability to produce gales of unbridled laughter.
Urinetoen Coolum Theatre Players

flying feathers

Flying Feathers

Coolum Theatre Players

Coolum Civic Centre 

23rd March – 1st April

Richard Kent (Roger Featherstone) surrounded by Mrs Winthrop's girls: Claire Sawyer (Sally), Chris McMahon (Jackie), Jesse Hana Ellison (Polly) and in front, Kathryn Rose (Debbie)


I love going to a Coolum Theatre Players’ show. The Coolum Civic Centre is not the greatest venue (the sound disappears pretty quickly into its cavernous belly) and I often forget to take drinks and tapas (damn!) but we always get a warm welcome and more and more often, we’re getting a great, fun show. Friday night was no exception. President, Julia (lovely is her middle name) Loaney, greeted us and showed us to our seats and we enjoyed a fast-paced British farce, Flying Feathers, featuring a few familiar faces and a couple of new ones.


Jesse Hana Ellison (Polly)



Claire Sawyer (Sally)


Pretty tightly written, by Derek Benfield, with a typical, farcical twist, Flying Feathers is a short, funny show for everyone (well, perhaps not for your youngest, being set in a “house of sin”). Well-respected local Director, Nancy Kinmond, has obviously had fun with this one, which meant that we did too.

The problems associated with solving multiple mistaken identities provide the amusing premise, with plenty of sexy costumes, postures and innuendo thrown in. In typically ridiculously hilarious fashion, somebody, little orphan Annie style, escapes the crazy house in a laundry basket, somebody comes back to life in the laundry basket, and somebody nicks off with a bottle of whiskey to the relative safety of a cupboard instead of into the laundry basket!

Tania Nash (Mrs Winthrop) provides much of the pace behind the action in Act 1 and, with so much to set up; this can only improve during the short run. Improving pace means getting on top of those cues, guys! You know who you are! I know Nancy has drilled you. Now you need to drill it some more! What Act 1 lacked in pace, it made up for in energy and total commitment to the tale. What a pleasure to see a true team effort, performers supporting each other in their roles and working hard together to make the jokes work. The partnership between Chris McMahon and Claire Sawyer is testament to this. Carla Edgar (Sarah) and Sean Bennet (Henry/Bernard) also showed us how easy it can be to support each other on stage rather than compete for the spotlight. There are other companies who can learn a lot from seeing this production. Go together, book a table, TYO (take your own) drinks and nibbles and talk after the show. Just like the old days. If you don’t enjoy this show you can talk after the show about how wrong I was!

I love seeing Jesse Ellison give a stronger and slicker performance in each production. I love seeing Sean Bennett make more confident choices in his roles and I love seeing Dennis Coleman in a role, finally, in which he is perfectly cast. This is a strong cast overall, with obvious mentors taking the newer ensemble members through their paces. This is what I like to see. This is how it should be. This is what community theatre is all about and it wouldn’t happen without somebody wonderful at the helm. Congratulations to Nancy and Coolum Theatre Players. Once again, you’ve excelled. May you have full houses and heaps of fun!


Tania Nash (Mrs Winthrop)

Photos courtesy Neil Dearberg


The Last 5 Years & The Young Ones

So. As well as recovering from the flu and throwing a great big party in the park for my four-turning-five year old, I saw two local community theatre productions on the weekend. One delivered on all of its promises. The other did not.

As far as I can see, for about the last five years, some of our community theatres have struggled with identity, committee structure and processes, programming, membership, marketing and dwindling audience numbers. On the Sunshine Coast, we currently have 9 groups operating and the potential for about 12.

People are involved in community theatre for all sorts of reasons. People attend community theatre productions for all sorts of reasons. When a community theatre group actually goes ahead and, on the strength of its conviction and collective ambition and determination, delivers the great, fun show that it said it would, it is refreshing to say the least! I’m referring to the Australian Premiere of The Young Ones, which is in the middle of a three week run in Coolum.

The Coolum Theatre Players have had new life breathed into them, by newcomer, Julia Loaney. I met Julia before the matinee on Sunday. What an absolute delight this woman is! When her long-term friend, Helen Rimanic (Director), approached her about staging this brand new (British, obviously) jukebox musical, Julia’s immediate thoughts were to do with enticing new, young people to their theatre. And it’s worked. Having worked, in various capacities, with just a few of the performers, it was terrific to see so many new faces on stage. And they look great! Some of those minis are undoubtedly the real thing; vintage PVC specimens! There is definitely some talent there. The trick will be to lure it all back for the next one!

The ensemble sound was good; the parts were solid (Musical Director Vivienne Ellis), though, I will admit, it was extremely disappointing to see The Shadows mime playing their instruments as we listened to backing tracks, rather than enjoy a live band play on stage. Apparently, finding musicians who’ll give up their weekend gigs for the love of community theatre is proving just as difficult as it has always been. I guess I’ll have to keep putting off our plans to stage The Existents!

There were some great dance sequences throughout (Choreography Mandy Masterson) and it was good to see so many boys dancing confidently and competently. Whilst the look of the show is a little underdone, in terms of staging and managing people (particularly in the busy ensemble scenes and the transitions between them), the pace a little lacklustre and only the slightest attempt made to create genuine characters and relationships (luckily, the characters are written pretty thinly), overall, this is a terribly penned show done pretty well! Really! The book is terrible! And you thought Summer Holiday was corny?!

Actually, I’m pretty sure my mum (and we kids) always loved this film and what’s more, I’m pretty sure she still has a major crush on Sir Cliff! Despite its flaws, just like the original film was able to do, this show had us smiling and clapping along. I was pleased to observe that most of the matinee audience enjoyed it too (incidentally, the houses have been great, averaging 150 per performance, which must be a reflection of a number of factors, which Coolum Theatre Players have addressed recently, in order to pick up the ball again). Had the cast given us a whole lot more energy, I’m sure we would have been up and dancing too, to hits such as Livin’ Doll and Do You Wanna Dance? Unfortunately, there has been some illness and just like in any community theatre group, these are ordinary people, who can’t take time off to recover while the understudy steps in. Everybody involved in community theatre either works or studies and the theatrical ventures must fit into their already busy lives.

This is a group with enormous potential in its midst and I’m glad to see the community supporting them by attending in droves. The Young Ones is not a show that will challenge you on any level but you will, quite simply, be entertained by fresh, new, young, enthusiastic performers who have found, in Coolum Theatre Players, a stepping stone that will lead, for a good number of them, to a more serious playing field…if that is what they seek. If not, then may they continue having fun and meeting new friends in colourful musical productions that are genuinely appreciated by local audiences. All sorts. So many reasons. There is certainly a place for fun, entertaining theatre that brings new people to the stage and new audiences through the doors.

There is also a place for the more ambitious performing artists to continuously work on developing their skills and their repertoire if that is what they desire…currently, that place is not Lind Lane Theatre. Without going into the petty politics, which unfortunately seem rife in community theatre (and in any community group, sure), this production of The Last 5 Years was never going to work. Well, let’s qualify that because I – unlike others I know – was prepared to give these guys the benefit of the doubt.

If Jason Robert Brown had written The Last 5 Years as a one-man show, it might have worked superbly, due to the hard work and talent of Rowan Howard. However, as a two-hander, this production hasn’t been given a chance; as opposed to the inspired casting of Howard, a newcomer to Lind Lane Theatre, the role of Cathy is the result of completely misguided casting. And therein lays the penultimate problem of this production. I’m sorry to say I predicted it and I was desperately hoping, even up to the first strains of the opening song, that I would be proved wrong. Sadly – for all involved – during the first 16 bars we had already realised that we were in for a long night. In a much-loved, highly anticipated one-act musical! Seriously, it’s one of my favourite shows ever; how dare they get it so wrong! What we have in this production is the result of a self-indulgent decision made by slightly deluded committee members and in that, a missed opportunity and a real shame for at least one of the directors, who had good intentions from the outset…as well as some notion of what it is to be a director. Further to that, if you insist on staging JRB in a community context, do the man the courtesy of practising those songs on that piano until your fingers BLEED.

I look forward to seeing what Co-Director, Russell Morgan, chooses to get involved with after this experience and also, what Howard decides to tackle next, after giving us a convincing portrayal of Jamie Wellerstein. His renditions of Moving Too Fast, A Miracle Would Happen and Nobody Needs to Know showed us that he is a perceptive and intelligent performer with a much broader scope than one would have imagined. There are many more performers like him, who (unlike him) are all too familiar with the recent history (and histrionics) and will wait for the changing of the guard before setting foot in that lovely little theatre space again. What a great loss for so many theatre enthusiasts on the Sunshine Coast.

I look forward to seeing what they – and other community theatre groups – have programmed for 2012, at the inaugural Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance Season Launch Soiree! That’s right! How excitement! Details to come…