Thursday, August 01, 2013

Community theatre sends out SOS: 'Support our songs'

Image of George Bernard Shaw courtesy of
The Daily Grime.

HE is lauded as one of the deepest 'thinkers' in world literature but even the great George Bernard Shaw might think again if he could experience the joy of some musical achievements in Redland City. The acerbic Shaw is credited with one of the sharpest barbs for aspiring musicians. He put it bluntly: "Hell is full of musical amateurs."

SHAW clearly didn't know up from down because music is always a heaven for someone, whether performer or listener. Just ask the many millions who express themselves in amateur theatre and the millions more who thoroughly enjoy hearing and watching. The applause says it all. Eat ya words, George. Amid this enormous groundswell of art from the heart you'll find people like Stephen Kay, not trying to mimic the famous achievers but studying the technicalities, creating original works and fostering others who are prepared to have a go. It's all about community, something an embittered old playwright like Shaw apparently didn't really understand.

STEPHEN is celebrating his 60th year in the Redlands. The son of a British airman turned Capalaba poultry farmer, Stephen had his first taste of the Australian rural lifestyle at Morayfield after his family migrated in 1948, via the US. His involvement in community theatre with music stems from his RAAF service as a young man in Victoria. He later worked as a company credit manager and teacher, and studied music theory to help him compose. Now 73, Stephen wrote the first of his four musicals when aged 21. Under the pseudonym of Oliver Thomas, he has also written two books of poetry, two short stories and a novel. His latest project has been to create a musical in the style of Rodgers and Hammerstein and establish a special 'repertory' group to perform it.

THE production of Mister Sunshine, including an impressive total of 18 original songs and a cast of 15, opened last weekend at the Cleveland CWA Hall. The plot centres on a retirement home where the arrival of a "special angel messenger" ends the boredom and gives a recipe for enjoying life. Now with first night jitters settled, Stephen's SOS Theatre Group is ready for two more shows, at Manly/Lota RSL Hall, Melville Terrace, Manly, at 7.30 tonight and 1.30pm tomorrow. Stephen says the acronym stands for Seniors on Stage and reflects his wish to "give seniors something to do, keep moving, keep their brains working and stave off the problems of ageing".

This column appeared in The Redland Times on May 31.

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