Music of the decades

THIS year’s Tamworth Historical Society Musicale in early April is something special.

It will be the 10th year of the musical entertainment extravaganza the society members mount as an annual event.

In the past it’s been staged in the grand ballroom of the cottage, but this year moves to a bigger stage – the main auditorium of the community centre in Darling St.

And to put a special polish on the trek through musical tracks of yesteryear the Musicale will also welcome back a society favourite in model manager and etiquette and deportment queen June Dally-Watkins as its guest.

Musicale maestro and producer Richard Hutt says the doyenne of fashion l help headline the musical magic on Saturday April 5.

“Miss Dally-Watkins needs no introduction to New Englanders since she originally hailed from Watsons Creek and spent her formative years in Tamworth,” Mr Hutt said.

“We are especially honoured to have her join us again this year for this special occasion and audiences will have the opportunity to hear briefly of this gracious lady’s reminiscences of her early days in the Tamworth region.

“ It is always special when such a well known Australian visits Tamworth, but more so when one is so closely linked to our city’s own history”.

The Musicale will again be compered by Ann Sumner, with accompanists Bill Gleeson and Richard Hutt. 

The cast includes Catherine Hutchison, Peter Ross, Katrina Telfer, Margaret Heiliger, Rodney Hobbs, Shirley Chandler, Adele McGaffin and Bill Forrest. 

According to Mr Hutt, a couple of special performances will be provided by some travelling minstrels from out of town in Rosalind Sneddon (nee Falkenmire), Margo Easton (nee Bannister) and the popular baritone Bill Lee, who has appeared regularly since the annual Musicale’s inception. 

While former Musicales have been performed in about three sessions each year because the museum’s grand ballroom only holds about 60 people, the move to the Darling St stage will allow them to play a one-off variety concert to more people. 

It will begin at 2pm on April 5 and unreserved seats will be sold at the door at $20 per person (no concessions) and includes a delicious afternoon tea. 

The Musicale series is the main fundraiser each year for the society and helps support the maintenance cost of the headquarters and heritage precinct of Calala Cottage museum.

Each year the Musicale has entertained different themes too.

In 2012 it celebrated the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birthday. Last year it had a tartan theme and the sounds of Scotland took centre stage. 

“But while we’ve had some special musical subjects in the past, there’s never actually been a specific annual ‘theme’ as such,” Mr Hutt said.

“ We’ve always really just made it Victorian items onwards, through to the 20th century when looking at it through a ‘time angle’ and that of course fits into the age of Calala Cottage, which is circa 1875 and beyond. 

“Calala Cottage has the ‘atmosphere’ for that sort of entertainment from yesteryear, but given this year is our 10th anniversary we’re still basically sticking to Victorian-plus items anyway, even though it will be held inside the community centre for the first time. At least it will be held inside the Heritage Room!”

Mr Hutt said he was expecting a full house of 200 for the show and they were catering for that number. One of the advantages of the one-show-only performance this year was that it would be an easier job for the catering and front-of-house volunteers who wouldn’t have to front up three times to do their jobs.

“None of us is getting any younger, so that will be a help,” he said. 

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