Everyone who has ever been involved with FAMDA, on stage, off stage or in the audience, was warmly invited to join in the 60th birthday celebrations held over the weekend of 30 November and 1 December 2013.
For our Diamond Anniversary celebrations, FAMDA friends enjoyed songs, good food and reminiscences of 60 years of theatrical endeavours.
A capacity crowd of 140 people attended the Foster Arts Centre on Saturday night, 30 November 2013, many of them donning diamonds and furs for the occasion. On Sunday afternoon, 1 December 2013, there were nearly as many to enjoy the same concert of songs from musical shows staged by FAMDA over the years.
Moo’s at Meeniyan provided dinner on Saturday night and there was a delicious locally prepared ‘high tea’ on Sunday afternoon.
The concert component of the festivities was divided into decades. It began with Prue Fleming concentrating on the period between 1953 and 1972 and regaling her audience with tales of her father, Robbie Fleming’s innovations and exploits with FAMDA.
This was followed by an excerpt from every Gilbert and Sullivan musical ever performed by FAMDA, beginning with Michael Strong singing ‘The Judge’s Song’ from Trial by Jury and finishing with Natalie Burrow presenting ‘When a Merry Maiden Marries’ from The Gondoliers.
Liz Hall had some funny tales to tell about shows staged between 1973 and 1983 making mention of Toad of Toad Hall, Pure as the Driven Snow, Boeing Boeing and the controversial, but ultimately very successful, Don’s Party.
On Saturday night she also welcomed back John Crawford and the former Julie Shepherd, the stars of Calamity Jane. On Sunday afternoon the show’s director, Alan Stone, was in the audience.
Songs from that era included a rousing version of ‘Goodbye’ from Whitehorse Inn performed by Wayne Moloney with help from Brian Hoskins, Rodney Sharp and Michael Strong.
Peter Clyne spoke about the decade between 1984 and 1993 followed by songs from Kiss Me Kate, Oklahoma! and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
John Davies, the original Herod from Follow the Star, entertained the audience with his rendition of ‘Nice Boys and Girls’ and John Watson provided insight into the remarkable emotional impact of Fiddler on the Roof.
The period between 1993 and 2003 was covered by Jennifer Paragreen who spoke of the influence of Neil Goodwin as a director and some of the talented actors and production people who contributed to FAMDA’s success during that time, particularly with its plays.
Most of the musical performances from this era were presented by the original singers including Rodney Sharp who had travelled from South Australia especially for the occasion, and ‘locals’ Dianne Paragreen and Judy Barnard.
Bruce Crowl provided commentary on FAMDA’s most recent decade followed by some highly entertaining sequences such as Wayne Moloney resplendent in his ‘Chrysler Building’ costume as Roger De Bris from The Producers and Arie Bos and Brian Hoskins dressed as two Friesian cows singing about ’My Bull Bill’ with ‘sheepish’ Fran Allott, Louise Dower and Nicole Cooper as their ‘baa-cking’ group. Nicole Cooper and Paul Smith impressed with their Spelling Bee sequence.
The Prom Coast Singers bookended the program. The musical content was chosen by Pamela Coad who was also the musical director for the project. The soloists were Fran Allott, Judy Barnard, Arie Bos, Natalie Burrow, Nicole Cooper, John Davies, Louise Dower, Barbara Fleming, Brian Hoskins, Wayne Maloney, Dianne Paragreen, Rodney Sharp, Paul Smith, Michael Strong and John Watson with Barbara Fleming, Kerry Pritchard and Paddy Broberg as their accompanists.
Saturday night’s proceedings included the launch of Kate Crowl’s new book, FAMDA’s Further Frolics, detailing the history of our most recent ten years, a supplement to FAMDA’s Frolics 1953-2003.
On Saturday night the Paragreen quartet of life members, Brian, Robert, Jennifer and Dianne each introduced a new FAMDA life member – Arie Bos, Peter Clyne, Kate Crowl and Norm Willoughby.