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MUSIC AND DRAMA.
As Christmas approaches, Melbourne be- comes more and more active In the theatrical sphere. At the moment a good deal of excite- ment attends the preparations for "Colllt's Inn," which Mr. Claude Flemming Is producing for Mr. F. W. Thring, and which will first be seen by Melbourne audiences next Saturday night. The text of this ploy Is by T. S. Gurr, and the music by Varney Monk. It won a prize last year In the competition for Australian musical ploys which had been or- ganised by Miss Nathalie Rosenwax. Miss Rosenwax's name does not seem to have been given any prominence since "Colllt's Inn" was taken over by Mr. Thring, as managing director of Efftee Films; but she deserves cor- dial recognition; for, had it not been for last years contest, "Colllt's Inn" would probably not have been written-or, at least, would not have been written in time to be produced next Saturday. Sydney audiences had an opportunity to see the plav some months ago, when It was staged by amateurs for a few nights at the Savoy Theatre.
"Colllt's Inn' is to be presented in the most lavish style. The principals are all singers and actors whose attainments arc well-known to the public. They include Miss Gladys Moncrieff, Mr. Robert Chisholm, Mr. Claude Flemming, Miss Byrl Walkley, and Mr. George Wallace, who has been seen in Sydney several times on the screen. A speci:.'. feature of the production will be an aboriginal cor- roboree, presented with authentic headdresses and ceremonial. But, more striking than any- thing, "Colllt's Inn' will bring Into action a large new revolving stage. In Europe, revolv- ing stages have been used for several decades in order to secure quick changes of scene and spectacular effect. The oldest revolving stage In London Is that at the Coliseum Theatre. In 1931 and 1932 this was brought into play with splendid results in "White Horse Inn" and "Casanova." In Australia, the William- son management claims to have used a re- volving stage many years ago, but the appara- tus has long lain neglected in a store.
A NOTABLE ENTERPRISE.
In the first act of "Colllt's Inn," five scenes will revolve before the eyes of the audience. The area of the stage at the Princess Theatre is only a quarter of that at the Coliseum; but, even so, with a diameter of 35 feet, Mr. W. R. Coleman and his assistants will be able to contrive some striking scenic effects. The revolving section Is removable, and fits Into the surface of the stage proper. It rests on a concrete bed. By means of a centre pin and circular steel rails, a windlass below, operated at a signal from the producer, can move a maximum weight of 11 tons. At a rehearsal last Saturday, 70 people stood on the moving stage; and it responded perfectly to'
AU In all, next Saturday will be a "first night" memorable In the history of Austra- lian drama. For many years, Australian playwrights have tried in vain to have their work placed on the professional stage. At rare intervals, one of them has succeeded. (Doris Egerton Jones for instance, had "The Flaw" presented by the Williamson manage- ment, and "Governor Bligh" by Mr. Allan Wilkie.) But, on the whole, the aspirations of local writers have been hopeless. Because there was no theatrical outlet, the plays have not been good; and because the plays havd not been good, theatrical managers have been
wary of them. The penalty of rashness ap- peared some years ago when Mr. Gregar» McMahon staged Louis Stone's "In the Lap of the Gods" in Sydney; and on one evening was greeted by the sight of 12 people as sole occupants of the dress circle. But interest has swung a good deal in favour of the local dramatist since then. At least, one susoects
that it has. At any rate, Mr. Thring isj
gambling gallantly on "Colllt's Inn," and next Saturday's professional "world premiere" will be more exciting than any local reproduction of a London or New. York success could pos- sibly be.
Mr. Thring's promised activities In the way of bringing out Australian spoken plays re- main wrapped in mystery. Perhaps the com- petition which closed two weeks ago will bring to light some good material. Meanwhile, In- dependently of the Thring management, Mr. Gregan McMahon has produced at the Gar- rick Theatre Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler," with Miss Coral Brown as Hedda, and himself as Ellert Lovborg, and "Jonah and the Whale," by James Bridie, whose "Tobias and the Angel" was staged here successfully a month or two ago by the Players' Club. Last night he was to appear as Sylvanus Heythorp In "Old Eng- lish." Next Saturday, J. C. Williamson, Ltd., will stage the musical and dancing show, "Gay Divorce."
Since Mr. Hugo Larsen has announced that he is bringing Poulshnofl and Horace Stevens to Australia early in the new year, it is inter» estlng briefly to review the careers of these two musicians. The name of the former will not be known to many Australians. Poulsh noff, who is now 40 years of age, made his debut in St, Petersburg, at the age of five. He studied the pianoforte with Leschetlzky, and composition under Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazounov, and Liadoff. At 17, he graduated from the Conservatoire with the Rubinstein gold medal, which enabled him to visit Berlin, Brussels, Paris, and Monte Carlo. On re- turning to Russia, he toured with the famous violinist, Leopold Auer; and then as an in- dependent artist. He first appeared in London in 1921.
The Australian baritone, Horace Stevens, first visited England on leave during the war. He had intended to follow a medical career, but Sir Henry Wood heard him sing, and advised him to give up medicine for music. He made his London debut at the Queen's Hall In 1919, with Sir Henry conducting the orchestra: and his success was immediate. Two months later-again under Sir Henry Wood's baton-he sang the role of Elijah with the Birmingham Festival Choral Society. Since then, he has been recognised as one of the leading oratorio singers on the English plat- form. He has sung at all the great English choral festivals, including that of the Three Choirs (at Gloucester, Worcester, and Here- ford) ; the Norwich Festival, the Handel Fes- tival, the Leeds Festival, and the Welsh Na- tional Eisteddfod. In 1927, he made a tour of the musical centres in America, and sang for the Clncinnatti Festival, the Evanston Society, the Columbia University Festival, the New York Oratorio Society, and the Handel and Haydn Society at Boston.
TWO AUSTRALIAN TROUBADOURS.
Last year, the Misses Joan and Betty Rayner went to Europe by way of America, after enter- taining Sydney audiences once or twice a week for many months at their Theatre of Youth, near Circular Quay. Writing to a friend in Sydney, Miss Betty Rayner gives interesting impressions of England, as she and her sister have seen It in their role of "troubadours," "You know," she says, "we have been cara- vanning for seven months, and have (literally) dined In cottage and castle; and have had visitors In the caravan from a marchioness to a village undertaker. We have watched spring come after snowstorm and cold winter watched spring go and summer come-England has excelled itself this year-and now we are watching summer go, and autumn is almost here. If we are strong and hardy enough, we are going to stay In the caravan until the beginning of December: as, no matter how nice the homes we are invited to stay in when we play In the different towns, one's own little burrow makes the emerging into the world easlei. We have been playing private shows nearly all the time in England; and it has been so Interesting appearing In such places as Oxford University, Mailborough College (n whole show for Speech Day week-end), the Quaker family of Cadbury's at Bounievllle: the Birmingham Repertory Theatre; the Mad dermarket at Norwich, and so on; and in almost every case return dates have been booked; so that It seems we shall be In Eng- land for some time to come The story of how we are led from town to town-we set out with only two engagements fixed-would read like a miracle in parts; but we are be- ginning to leam that miracles should be more natural than their opposltes when we learn to see and think straight."