Coralie Condon’s 97th Birthday Party
At a party held on 20th May, which was kindly organised by Rick Hearder, with Audrey Long (Barnaby) providing support, fifty guests and theatrical friends celebrated Coralie Condon’s birthday. She was 97 years young on May 16th, 2012.
Coralie about to cut the cake, flanked by Rick Hearder and Audrey Long
Many well known thespians were present on the day…
Among the guests were Eileen and Holly Baden-Powell, Roz Barr, Simon Bush, Sister Anne Carter, Felicity and Richard Cole, Jill Collis, Harry Driver, John Easton, Pat Edgar, Orrena Elder, Brian Harffey with his friend Kevin, Cathy Jennings, Kevan Johnston, Max and Norma Kay, Tom and Jane Kozak, Beverly Lange, Sally Martin, Edgar Metcalf, Judy Murtath, Colin Nichol, Julianna Noonan, Damien O’Doherty, Sally and Maurie Ogden, Jill Perryman, John and Irene Roe, Sue Scrutton and many more.
Coralie Condon’s 97th Birthday Party
WA TV History
50 guests and theatrical friends celebrated Coralie Condon’s birthday, at a party held on 20th May, 2012.
Many guest were honoured for services to the entertainment industry, as in 1993, when Coralie was awarded The Order of Australia (OAM) during the Australia Day honours ceremony.
Another person to be recognised is Edgar Metcalf, who has been directing, producing and treading the boards of various Perth theatres for many years. He came from England in 1963 to be artistic director of the National Theatre of Western Australia at the Playhouse Theatre. What was intended to be a two-year stay became three stints over two decades, during which he directed or acted in more than 100 productions. Subsequently, he was Artistic Director at the Hole-in-the-Wall Theatre in Leederville.
Edgar Metcalfe was named WA Citizen of the Year in 1976 for services to the performing arts.
In 1978, Edgar was awarded the A.M. (Member of the Order of Australia) in the Queens Birthday List for his services to the performing arts.
In 2011, he was honoured with the renovated IMAX theatre in Northbridge, which was converted into a theatre venue and named the Edgar Metcalfe Playhouse, after the stage veteran and the defunct Playhouse Theatre at Pier Street in Perth.
Two members of the Baden-Powell clan were present at Coralie’s birthday party, Eileen and daughter Holly. Eileen will be remembered as Eileen Colocott, the actress who played many varied roles in theatre, both locally and nationally, appearing on television in Homicide (1966), Sons and Daughters (1982), Young Doctors (1983), Ship to Shore (1993-1994), The Gift (1997), Minty (1998), The Shark Net (TV movie in 2003), Southern Cross (2004), Wormwood (2007) and Movies Nickel Queen (1971) and Shame (1988).
The first Hole in the Wall Theatre was established by Frank Baden-Powell and John Gill in 1965 in the old Braille Hall on the corner of Stirling and Newcastle Streets. It was a 142 seat theatre-in-the-round, that was intended as a break away from the conventional theatre scene. Baden-Powell and Gill alternated as directors.
The late Frank Baden-Powell
In 1967, Baden-Powell joined forces with Coralie Condon to revive the British Music Hall concept in Perth. It was a mixture of popular song, comedy, speciality acts and variety entertainment, which proved very popular as a theatre restaurant style musical. Whilst in August 1968, the new Hole in the Wall opened in a converted warehouse in Southport Street Leederville. Meanwhile, what started out as the Old Time Music Hole in the the former Braille Hall was then presented on a grander scale in Fremantle, before settling into the Civic Theatre Restaurant in Beaufort Street as the Old Time Music Hall.
Fremantle Old Time Music Hall in 1968, the formers headquarters of the Trades and Labour Movement, before their offices were relocated to Perth
The theatre restaurant notion proved popular, leading to Diamond Lil’s and then the Island Trader. In 1970 they opened Dirty Dick’s Elizabethan Room, which spread nation wide, with premises in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and several regional centres.
Dirt Dick’s Theatre Restaurant
At one time there was even a Dirty Dick’s in Los Angeles. The theatre group also toured extensively throughout the country with a selection of about fifteen shows.
Max and Norma Kay were also in attendance. Max Kay has an extensive background in the performing arts and business in Western Australia. Born in Scotland, Max arrived in Perth in 1967 where he appeared many times on television. In 1976 he opened the Civic Theatre in Inglewood and wrote, produced, and performed his own shows. The “Five past Nine” shows as they were called, incorporated a unique blend of singing, dancing and sketch comedy (which gave birth to some favourite characters, including the World War II Japanese Officer “Colonel Itchy Knackers” “Rhamet Upya” the Pakistani Immigrant, “Luigi Savadamoni”, and many others). The Civic Theatre was a successful Perth icon, for 25 years, playing to over 1.5 million people, and employing up to 100 people during the busy seasons including stage performers, stage technicians, administration and sales staff and food and beverage staff.
He closed the theatre in 2001 to pursue other interests including becoming a City of Perth Councillor.
In June 2001 Max was awarded the WA Citizen of the Year for the Arts Culture and Entertainment category, while in January 2003 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the entertainment industry and for charitable works. He is the National Trust (WA Branch) President and is also on the Board of Swan Bells Foundation, the St Bartholomew’s Foundation and Curtin Radio 100.1.
Coralie’s 1958 musical comedy ‘The Good Oil’ was adapted for television by Max Bostock in 1964, for broadcast the following year. Coralie was delighted when Jill Perryman accepted the lead with the choreography and male lead performed by Jill’s husband Kevan Johnston. Both were present and enjoying Coralie’s party.
In the late 1950s and early 60s Jill and Kevan appeared in a string of Phillip Street revues. At age 19, Jill joined J.C. Williamson Theatres Ltd as a member of the chorus and in 1953 understudied leading roles in stage musicals. Jill married dancer-choreographer Kevan Johnston in 1959. Their two children, Tod and Trudy, are both in show business.
In 1965 she was cast as Irene Molloy in Hello, Dolly!, and played the lead when the star became ill. This led to her first great triumph taking the lead as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl in 1966, a performance that won her an Erik Award for Best Actress and led to major roles in other productions. These included I Do! I Do! in 1969; The Two of Us in 1971. No, No, Nanette in 1972 won her another Erik Award for Best Actress for her role as Lucille Early, then in 1973 she starred in A Little Night Music. Jill also made regular guest appearances on television variety programs and starred in her own series on ABC TV called Perryman On Parade (1973), for which she won a Penguin Award for Best Variety Performer. This was followed by Jill (1975) and An Evening With Jill Perryman (1977). In 1976 she played Gladys Zilch in Leading Lady, a musical production created especially for her. She also toured during 1977 in Side By Side By Sondheim. She played Miss Hannigan in Annie in 1978.
“Give Me 99 Good Reasons Why!” -and- “Dear Bunny”
WA TV History
Two numbers from the 1965 TVW Channel 7 production of ‘The Good Oil’ (a musical comedy written by Coralie Condon). The first song is titled “Give You 99 Good Reasons Why!” and features Kevan Johnston and the boys of the chorus. The second is titled “Dear Bunny” and starts with Clancy (Kevan Johnston) singing as he writes to Bunny, then segues into Bunny (Jill Perryman) singing in reply.
Among her many awards, Jill was presented with the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1979 Queen’s New Years Honours List, and then in the 1992 Queen’s New Years Honours List she was awarded the A.M. (Member of the Order of Australia) for her services to the performing arts. Whilst in the same honours list, Kevan was awarded the O.A.M. (Order of Australia Medal) for his services to the performing arts as a choreographer, actor, and dance teacher. In 1995 Jill received the Golden Swan, acknowledging her contribution to theatre in Western Australia.
Kevan Johnston in the 1975 Follies at the Perth Entertainment Centre
Jill Perryman and Kevan Johnston at the 2011 WA Screen Awards
WA TV History
The 2011 WA Screen Awards Special on WTV Channel 44 reported on Jill Perryman receiving the Lotterywest Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Industry.
Also celebrating Coralie’s birthday was the award-winning actress Rosemary Barr, who is regarded as one of Western Australia’s leading and most popular actresses, having appeared with all the major theatre companies in a wide range of plays and musicals. Roz has also appeared on ABC and commercial television and radio. She has toured extensively through Australia, the United Kingdom and the Far and Middle East. She is a winner of the prestigious Swan Gold Award for Best Actress and also of the Equity Award for Best Actress.
Maurie and Sally Ogden were also present on the day…
Maurie and Sally (as Sally Sander) have appeared on stage, film and television in a wide range of productions. They also share a professional connection with Coralie through the Old Time Music Hall and Dirty Dick’s Theatre Restaurant. Venues they have played include the Playhouse Theatre, The Hole in the Wall Theatre, The Effie Crump Theatre, whilst Sally also worked His Majesty’s Theatre, and Maurie appeared at the Regal Theatre, New Fortune Theatre and Subiaco Theatre Centre… to mention a few.
Damien O’Doherty is the daughter of Colm O’Doherty, who performed on Children’s Channel Seven. A program Coralie Condon was associated with in the early days of television in Western Australia. Damien was associated with the Old Time Music Hall, the theatre, and as a stand-up comedian gained a degree of notoriety with her memorable impersonation of Rose Porteous.
John Easton and Rick Hearder appeared on stage together before Coralie enticed John to join TVW Channel 7 as a floor manager. John was also a stage manager at the Playhouse for Coralie’s 1958 production of The Good Oil, and then was the floor manager when it was produced for television by Max Bostock. Many of the original stage cast also appeared in the TV version. John even made a brief appearance.
The former dancer Orrena Elder was famous for her glamorous photos in major British newspapers. So iconic are her images that they remain popular adorning nostalgic posters and items of memorabilia to this day. In recent years, Orrena will be recognised as the friendly receptionist greeting guests at both the former ABC studios in Adelaide Terrace and the new ABC in Fielder Street, East Perth.
Sally Martin seen to the right of Coralie Condon, Sister Anne Carter and Max Kay
Sally Martin is the Office and Front-of-House Manager at the Blue Room Theatre, located at Artshouse in James Street, Northbridge, which was formally part of the Perth Technical College. The Performing Arts Centre Society Inc. (PACS) operates the theatre and fosters folk who are generating and producing their own work.
Prior to doing that, Sally studied classics and languages at the University of Western Australia, became an Associate of the Trinity College of London and gained her Performer’s Shield in dance before going on to do the theatre course at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).
After graduating, Sally worked extensively as an actor and wine promoter and formed the co-operative Actors Waiting and the all female, smoking, drinking and tap dancing group Veuve Click-O.
(No doubt a play on the Widow (veuve in French) Cliquot champagne, which sparkled at the courts of France, Britain, and Russia. An intelligent woman who lived during the French Revolution and took control of her destiny when fate left her on the brink of financial ruin, to rise above and become rich and successful.)
In 1957, Colin Nichol started as an announcer with the 6PM Network (including regional relay stations 6AM Northam, 6KG Kalgoorlie and 6GE Geraldton), just when there was a shift from 78’s to 45’s. A shift driven by a change in music to Elvis Presley and Bill Haley and the Comets. There was also a shift in the dance scene to that of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Prior to this, Coca-Cola was sponsoring a dance show hosted by John Fryer on 6IX, but this would soon change.
In 1959, Coca-Cola got the franchise for the Hi-Fi Club and Colin was appointed President of the Club. This new style of music and associated dance craze was then covered by 6PM. In 1960, TVW launched Teenbeat with the resident band being Clive Higgins and The Zodiac All-Stars, helped by Colin, as were many other artists make it onto the program. It was also the year that Colin was enticed to change stations to 6KY-NA where he became the top rating DJ in Perth, and station Programme Director, whilst 6KY went to Number One as well. This was orchestrated to suit Coca-Cola, with the Hi-Fi Club now following Colin to the Bob Mercer managed station, which was engaged in all manner of innovation from traffic reports to the eye in the sky.
Colin hosted the Coca Cola Hi Fi Club Hops at the Embassy Ballroom from 1959 until 1963. They enjoyed an attendance of between 1,000 and 2,000 teenagers attended these Saturday afternoon dances, until there was competition from Canterbury Court, which ran gigs at the same time.
To gain entrance, the teenagers had to be members, with Membership Cards obtained through Colin’s Hi Fi radio show on 6KY, which was broadcast from 5 to 6pm, five nights a week. Every state club ran on the same format. Johnny O’Keefe and the Dee Jays were the House Band in NSW; Col Joye and the Joy Boys in Victoria and The Penny Rockets in South Australia. These bands made guest appearances on the Perth show, where Bill Blaine and the Dynamics were the house band.
Colin made a name for himself championing many of the new Rock ‘n’ Roll bands of the time. There is a fascinating article about this period of Colin’s life on the Rock & Roll Council of Western Australia web-site.
The Embassy Ballroom
At the same time that Colin joined 6PM in 1957, Judy Murtath was working with Athol Hill Agency, which represented Coronet Records (based in Sydney, NSW) with a local office in King Street, Perth. The local agency represented several record labels, in addition to Coronet Records, the Australian outlet for CBS Records, which in turn sponsored the Coronet Disc Jockey Conventions at Hayman Island, Terrigal etc., in the early 1960s. Coronet Records was owned by the Australian Record Company (ARC) and set up to market licensed CBS and local recordings. Coronet Records released several hundred recordings between 1956 and 1963, before being taken over by CBS Records.
In 1963 Colin left Perth and headed for Britain to become part of a revolution that impacted on the world music industry and Britain’s broadcasting. Colin spent over two years with Radio Caroline and other ship-based radio stations as an original radio pirate and Chief Announcer for a time. Radio Caroline was an English radio station founded in 1964 which broadcast from a former Danish ferry, renamed MV Caroline, that was anchored three miles (5 km) off the coast of England, just outside British territorial waters. The plan was to circumvent the record companies’ control of popular music broadcasting in the United Kingdom and the BBC’s radio broadcasting monopoly.
A short film about Radio Caroline.
Colin’s distinguished career continued with Radio Luxembourg, which included the post of Deputy Head of the English Service. Then interestingly, Colin joined the BBC as an announcer on both national and World Service networks. He was also a presenter, producer and editor for BBC Radio London. After four years with the BBC, Colin joined the British Forces Broadcasting Service for five years as a producer, announcer, instructor and program director in both Malta and Gibraltar. Since his return to Perth, Colin has been involved with Community Television and Radio. He has also been a guest lecturer to the graduating Media History class at Edith Cowan University in WA.
He continues with his interest in radio and is in regular contact with radio, entertainment and musician friends worldwide. His current major project is to place on record his collection of mementoes from all his activities. At the same time, he researches local history and writes on that and other matters for local newspapers.
Pat Edgar is a former British actress and friend of the theatre dating back to the Edgley era, whilst Julianna Noonan is the Arts Administrator with AEG Ogden (Perth) Pty Ltd, at His Majesty’s Theatre, the company which operates as the agent for the Perth Theatre Trust venues, including His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth Concert Hall, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Subiaco Arts Centre and the Albany Entertainment Centre. The parent company manages the largest network of entertainment and sporting venues in the Asia Pacific region.
This is but a small sample of the high calibre of friends who assembled to celebrate Coralie Condon’s birthday on Sunday 20th May, 2012. Of the fifty guests present, they represented a good slice of WA performing arts heritage, which relates to our living memory, for if they had not achieved the ultimate heights themselves within Perth theatre, then they knew or performed with many who had.
- Coralie Condon
- Happy Birthday Coralie who is 97 years young on May 16th, 2012
- Coralie Condon’s Post TVW Reunion Get Together
- Coralie Condon welcomes old colleagues
- Coralie Condon’s contributions to theatre and television in WA