Half a century since its beginnings, the Arcadians theatre company shows no signs of slowing down.
The Corrimal-based group formed in 1964, making it older than the Crown Street Mall, the University of Wollongong and Wollongong City Gallery.
From a travelling group staging shows in clubs and halls, through various homes around the region, to their current base in Corrimal, the amateur group has become an indelible part of the Illawarra’s arts community.
“The talent in this community is phenomenal. The Illawarra is such an untapped source of theatre talent,” Arcadians president Liza Allen said.
From its children’s theatre groups right up to its oldest member at 90 years of age, Arcadians is renowned for giving opportunities to any who show an interest. Ms Allen has watched whole family groups pass through the ranks, and said the most rewarding part of her job was watching performers grow from minor parts in junior productions to starring roles in famous stage shows – including renowned musical theatre performer Anthony Warlow.
“There is this real sense of continuity among the group,” Ms Allen said.
“It crosses generations. There are 18-year-olds working with 60-year-olds, but it’s all this mutual respect.”
The Arcadians’ golden jubilee will be officially marked in September with a production of Phantom of the Opera at the IPAC. This weekend, however, marks the opening of Arcadians’ latest production, the Mel Brooks musical Young Frankenstein.
“The rights to perform it haven’t been around very long, and I’ve always loved the movie,’’ director Lisa Thrift said.
The play, centred on the grandson of Victor Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein novel, is the first Ms Thrift has directed in her 20 years with Arcadians.
The show runs from March21 until April5.