In early April 1913, the citizens of Marburg, 60km west of Brisbane, were eagerly anticipating the upcoming amateur performance of operetta Beauty and the Beast, with a cast of locals (pictured).
Staged to raise funds for the All Saints Anglican Church, the event was arranged by the Reverend T. Hely-Wilson, who oversaw the entire production from stage management and coaching of the amateur performers to costuming and scenery.
On April 16, the wait was over as a 400-plus audience crammed into the School of Arts building. Within minutes of the doors being opened all the seats had been taken, with latecomers relegated to standing at the back. Local newspaper the Rosewood Register and Marburg Mail captured the mood – “the huge audience was on the tip-toe of pleased anticipation” – and went on to praise the performance: “The choruses were strong, tuneful, well-balanced and of fine tempo, whilst the ballets were enchantingly appealing.” The two leads were Mr Arthur Dance (playing the Beast/Prince), who “spoke his lines with praiseworthy enunciation and distinctness”, and Miss Grace Collins (as Beauty), who, “although considerably nervous … acted well and sang charmingly”.
The remaining cast members were all lauded for their performances, while the children portraying the Prince’s “frog court” were audience favourites for their dance. Another tireless performer was Miss McLoughlin, the pianist who accompanied the performance. Her contribution to the success of the operetta was publicly acknowledged at the All Saints church annual picnic a few weeks later, where she was presented with a gold bangle.
Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland