FAREWELL ALL: Beryl Wood from Bunbury Players Group has spent 16 years with the group, but the King and I will be her final production.
FAREWELL ALL: Beryl Wood from Bunbury Players Group has spent 16 years with the group, but the King and I will be her final production. Mike Richards GLAFRON

King and I to be Gladstone theatre icon's swansong

THE Importance of Being Earnest was the conception of the Bunbury Players Group 16 years ago.

With the King and I premiering Thursday evening, it may be the final curtain call for the local theatre production group.

Director and primary financier Beryl Wood said the production would be her final sitting in the commanding chair.

"This is going to be my last show," she said.

"I'd love to carry on, but there are health concerns within my family and I've never been very good at delegating."

The 79-year-old has made a significant contribution to our cultural landscape, and remains positive when contemplating the future of theatre in Gladstone.

"I'm always amazed at the calibre of talent in what is essentially, a country town," she said.

"To be able to give an amazing cast a showcase is what means the most to me, and I am so proud of them all."

Since rehearsals began in March, the devotion of Mrs Wood, her cast of 44 and an orchestra of 25 has been a remarkable labour of love.

The 70 thespians are delighted to be the inaugural performance at the newly opened Gladstone Entertainment and Convention Centre.

"It's very exciting, it's always good to be first," she said.

"It's such a big production and I've had great sponsorship offers from industry and local businesses.

"A special thank you to Ginette Brace and all that have helped bring the King and I to the stage."

Set designer, costume maker, choreographer and artist are among the number of talents Mrs Wood possesses.

Most important, she says, is her sense of humour.

"Don't take yourself too seriously," she laughed.

"I do hope the Bunbury Players will have the chance to continue without me."

Opening night of the royal production is tomorrow night, with additional performances on Saturday.

Tickets are $18 for concession and $20 for adults.

"I'm telling the cast and crew that they need to be nervous, it gives them an edge," she laughed.

"If they say they aren't nervous I tell them 'go get nervous mate!'"



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