Sunday, April 22nd, 2012
WHAT happens you take a popular Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, a satirical play about theatre management and throw in a classic comedy skit?

The answer is the latest show at Phoenix Theatre, directed by Barry Page with musical direction from Michael Vertigan, delivering a “potpourri of music and comedy”.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial By Jury is only 43 minutes so Page decided to add the short play How To Make Your Theatre Pay and the skit Dinner For One to make a complete night out.

“Having been involved with the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire for a large amount of my theatre life after taking up directing four years ago, I always wanted to direct one of the operettas,” he said.

Trial by Jury is a classic containing the typical wit of Gilbert and Sullivan’s exquisite music with the story based around a Breach of Promise of Marriage.

“There is no dialogue in the operetta – it’s a pure vocal story like Les Miserables.”

The operetta is usually set in the 1890s but Page has changed it to the 1920s to make it more colourful and interesting.

“When we changed the setting, we checked to see if Breach of Promise court actions were still law at the time and found we were on safe ground because the laws weren’t repealed until 1969,” he said.

Involved in theatre since 1950, Page started out in a school production of The Mikado and has performed extensively with the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Victora and Babirra Music Theatre in musicals such as Kiss Me Kate, Desert Song and Die Fledermaus.

After moving to WA in 2004, he directed and performed various shows with Rockingham Theatre including Fawlty Towers, Lend Me a Tenor, Arsenic and Old Lace and My Friend Miss Flint and directed Agatha Christie Made Do It at Phoenix Theatre last year.

“I’ve seen Dinner for One performed before while in a revue, which made me aware of its visual humour, and I previously directed How to Make Your Theatre Pay,” Page said.

“I’ve also created some dialogue to go between the plays to give a blended presentation, in the lead-up to Trial By Jury.

“Although Dinner for One was written by an Englishman, it’s been performed across Europe in 17 different languages and is staged in Germany every New Year’s Eve.”

Page says anyone who’s been involved in local theatre management will relate to the dedicated volunteers trying to keep the performing arts alive in How to Make Your Theatre Pay.

“The theatre’s future plans are interrupted by a bureaucrat who only looks at the financial side of the argument, disrupting years of dedication to the arts in one fell swoop,” he said.

“It’s pure and wholesome satire throughout.”

Trial By Jury, Dinner for One and How To Make Your Theatre Pay play at 8pm, May 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19 with 2pm matinees on May 12 and 20.

A charity performance will also be held at 8pm, May 10, to raise money for the Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre.

Tickets are $20 adults, $15 concession – book on 0450 158 851 or at

Phoenix Theatre is located on the corner of Rockingham Road and Carrington Street, Hamilton Hill, within the Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall.

tbj1-2: Allira Humberstone, Jenny Trestrail and Tlalit Orr are the bridesmaids in the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Trial By Jury at Phoenix Theatre this May.

theatre pay: An officious council employee (Willy Smeets) demands the local stage becomes profitable in How To Make Your Theatre Pay, causing Mavis (Suzanne Mettner) and Mike (Adam Mettner) to rapidly re-shape their artistic visions.

dinner for one: Lorraine Page and Terry Winter serve up a comedy treat in Dinner For One.

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Phoenix Theatre

For many people within the Cockburn area and beyond in Western Australia, Phoenix Theatre provides one of the few chances to experience live theatre. We also provide an opportunity for people to learn the acting craft, as well as other aspects of the theatre world.

Phoenix Theatre’s actors, directors, committee members and technical crew receive no payment for the many hours of work they put in and are driven simply by their passion for theatre – and sharing it with the community.

Our location at Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall could not be more fitting, given it has been a focal point for community activities since it was originally built in 1925. As home to concert parties, singing, dancing and socials, Phoenix Theatre is proud to continue the tradition of entertaining people across the City of Cockburn.
Barry Page
P: 0409 216 319


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