A Tamworth-born celebrity who’s appeared on world stages will help to open a new exhibition at the gallery on February 10.
But when your co-stars are Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty and Jemima, even Philip Quast might have to take a back seat.
The internationally acclaimed actor and singer will be back in the city to briefly relive his days as a longtime former Play School host, when the gallery launches Happy Birthday Play School: Celebrating 50 Years.
Tamworth Regional Gallery and museums director Bridget Guthrie said it was a big coup for the venue, as it was one of only seven across Australia to secure the travelling exhibition from the National Museum of Australia.
“We have all worked really hard to get this one and we’re not charging a cent for it,” she said.
“There are only two venues in NSW it’s going to: us in Tamworth, and Albury in the southern end of the state.
“It actually comes to us from Rockhampton in Queensland, so that’s quite a big leap.”
Featuring the abovenamed stuffed stars of the iconic TV series, plus the rocket and flower clocks and the windows, the exhibition promises adults the chance to reminisce and children the opportunity to get up close to these program icons.
The colourful exhibition will also have archival audio and video clips of past programs and presenters.
“We’re really excited that Philip has kindly agreed to come and speak and present at the opening,” Ms Guthrie said.
“He’s also going to do a little singalong for the kids as well.”
Quast said during a recent visit to Tamworth that he was “absolutely” looking forward to coming back home for the Play School exhibition opening – and doing “a bit of Wiggerly Woo” for the kids.
Ms Guthrie said “whatever he feels like on the day” would be fine.
“He’s certainly a wonderful presenter and it’s such an opportunity for us to have him here,” she said.
“We’ve been emailing him back and forth to secure his presence.
“He’s performing in a musical in London, so we’re very lucky to have him.”
Family show – mostly
Ms Guthrie said the type of exhibition and the fact it was free was to encourage young families to get to know their gallery.
“It’s about audience development, and getting families and small children into the gallery space and making sure they know they can feel comfortable here.”
However, Ms Guthrie said there was an adult twist to some of the episodes that many people may be surprised to discover had gone straight over their heads as kids.
“I was thinking this was an exhibition for children, but it’s also an exhibition for adults: that nostalgia that we all associate with Play School and, dare I say it, even the episodes that have a little bit of adult humour and cheek to them,” he said.
“That appeal and popularity with the adult community is definitely there.
“Because of that, we’ve got a couple of sessions we’re going to release called Play School Up Late.
“It’s targeting adults, so it certainly might entail a few things like pass the parcel with adults, and having a glass of champagne on arrival.
“We’re just working on those details now.”