If you want to see Spectrum Theatre Group’s musical rendition of ‘Ladies In Black’ with added star power from director Frankie J. Holden, you’ll have to get in quick – mid-season, almost all performances are booked out.
Holden, who is juggling his volunteer role with Spectrum with a stint on TV soap ‘Home and Away’ leads a cast of 22 across the stage of the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre. Spectrum’s usual playground, Twyford Hall, is undergoing a $7.4 million renovation.
Assistant Director and Choreographer Amber Little says that having Holden donate his time and expertise has been “incredible.”
“Frankie has been 100 percent committed despite the fact that he could be doing paid work in the industry instead. He has a big heart and he didn’t hesitate when we asked him to do this,” she says.
It is Holden’s second production with Spectrum, last year he directed the play, “Seeds”, written by his wife, Michelle Pettigrove.
According to Amber, the Civic Center is an especially good location for ‘Ladies In Black’ which is set at Goode’s department store in Sydney in 1959.
“Although we’ve had a long association with Twyford Hall and are looking forward to performing there again, the Civic Center has been perfect for this production,” she explains.
“It’s new, it’s classy and the look of the two-story building seems very much in line with classic department stores.”
Laughing, Amber acknowledges that it can be a challenge for the groups lighting and sound technicians, as well as the theatre manager, dealing with “so many creative, dominant people.”
“The Civic Center staff have been so accommodating,” Amber adds.
Civic Center Coordinator Georgina Pearce says that she has been impressed with the high professional standard of the performances, cast, and crew.
“I think having the show at the Civic Center has been great for our community, Spectrum Theatre Group are all very talented and dedicated,” she says.
The musical was written by Carolyn Burns, adapted from a book by Madeleine St John, with music and lyrics by Tim Finn and is new to amateur circles, having finished its professional circuit in late 2017.
For Amber, having a storyline with lots of strong female roles has been a highlight of this year’s production and she says those who saw the 2019 movie will see some differences in Spectrum’s production.
“Frankie has done an amazing job, there is so much music, dance, and colour and I think he’s taken the characters a bit further than the movie does and given them a bit more depth.”
Finding period costumes has been a labor of love for costume director Robin Whitby and for the entire cast and crew, who have scoured op-shops from Cooma to Eden looking for vintage clothing and accessories for the show.
“We’ve had lots of support from Vinnies and Salvos, plus donations from people who had saved things from that era and what we couldn’t source second hand was made by Bustop Costumes in Pambula,” Amber explains.Putting together a production of this size takes many hours of behind the scenes volunteer help, says Amber.
“It really is a community effort from the ground up, it’s so much work and requires a huge commitment from everyone involved,” she says “and having Frankie take this on has been so fantastic, we feel very honored.”
The ‘Ladies In Black’ season runs until July 6. Tickets are available via TryBooking.