If you missed my spot on Meredith Gilmore’s Coast Arts radio show last weekend, you can listen online now at

As broadcast on Coast Arts radio program Sunday July 8 2018,  COAST FM 963 Gosford, Central Coast Community Radio.



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Theatrical Overview – by Karen Ractliffe



In recent months I’ve witnessed some exemplary local productions and, although I’ve already mentioned many of these in my monthly radio spots on the Coast Arts programme*, I wanted to say a few words here as well.

Endless Night Theatre Company’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead”

Several of the Central Coast’s newest theatrical companies have become home to some extraordinarily talented young performers. Among these is Endless Night Theatre Company, a group established in 2014. My first experience of their work was their striking production of “The Crucible” staged at The Art House, Wyong last year by talented young director Scot Russell. Scott continued to impress me last weekend with a production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” that was worthy of London’s South Bank. In the tradition of the RSC, he took a minimalist approach to set and staging. Clever use of simple props helped to keep the action flowing while allowing the audience to focus on the writing and performances, which were admirable. Particular credit goes to Dylan Crawford and Matt Driver who held the title roles. They held the lion’s share of Tom Stoppard’s fiendishly difficult script, delivering it with superb comic tone and timing, and they received excellent support from Jane -Ann Scott who was also a major player. But the rest of the cast proved the maxim that there are no small roles; even those with few – or no – lines still made their presence felt on stage with excellent use of physical humour. Special mention must also be made of Declan Green who stepped up in the play’s final minutes to infuse Horatio’s closing speech with utter conviction and unexpected pathos. It’s great to see new companies taking the risk of staging challenging works, and doing it successfully. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing ENTC’s next production.

For more information about the company, visit

XtrAct Drama Academy’s Mid-Year Performance

Earlier in the day I had the pleasure of watching the students of XtrAct Drama Academy presenting their mid-year performance. My late husband, Paul, always had a soft spot for XtrAct and enjoyed helping with sound production for several of their past shows. I’ve tried to continue to lend my support where I can, and I’ve always been impressed with what I’ve seen. Many of the most talented and promising young performers currently gracing the stages of our local productions began as students of XtrAct and, as I watched the show last weekend, I saw the faces of many students who I’m certain will be future Central Coast stars. Danielle-Brame-Whiting, director of the academy, has a gift for instilling confidence in young people and developing their stage presence. Her programmes and shows stretch the youngsters’ abilities and extend their talents. I’ve been impressed by the clever and imaginative plays and skits she creates, which are fun for the students to perform, and entertaining for audiences to watch, but their premises are also educational and thought provoking for young minds. Equally importantly, Danielle is always careful to reward qualities of teamwork, co-operation and kindness. I should like to applaud Danielle, and all those involved with XtrAct, for its vital contribution to Central Coast theatre and youth development.

XtrAct Drama Academy now offers regular classes at Wyong and Point Clare for students ranging from kindergarten age to 25 years old. For more information, visit

Wyong Drama Group’s “End of the Line”

Having been impressed by Wyong Drama Group’s production of “Sepia Secrets” in 2016, I was eager to see its prequel, “End of the Line”. Both plays were penned by WDG’s resident playwright, Andy Kabanoff, and are creatively based on the experience of his family during the Russian Revolution and the European wars that followed. Andy Kabanoff is a golden find for WDG – a marvelous talent as writer, director and actor. His plays are beautifully crafted, and cleverly staged to conjure an almost cinematic experience. Intelligent, imaginative, gently humorous and moving, “End of the Line” blends past and present, history and memory, and is woven throughout with lyrical threads from Russian literature. The play also utilized music and dance, creating some beautiful moments and tableaux. Andy received excellent support from his co-director, Gabrielle Brooks and the fine performances of their cast. Central Coast favourites, Ruth Jordan and Marc Calwell performed admirably in key roles, but there were also some less familiar faces that deserve credit. Special mention should be made of Samantha Winsor whose engaging and nuanced performance carried the audience through the story as she played the role of Elizabieta over several decades, from young girl to mature woman. Kudos also to the make-up, costumes, the technical effects team and stage crew who all played their part in helping the epic drama to unfold on stage. Overall, this was a real treat for genuine theatre lovers.

For a review of “Sepia Secrets”, please click on WDG’s SEPIA SECRETS – A review by Karen Ractliffe

Wyong Drama Group have another production this month at The Art House, Wyong. This time it’s a musical comedy, “Nunsense”. Friends who’ve seen this show before assure me that it’s hilarious. For more information, visit the group’s website at

Jopuka Productions “WTF Short Cuts” show

Not just a short play festival, this was a full variety performance, with a comedy MC and musical entertainment between plays. And the plays themselves were excellent. I was thrilled by the contrast in tone, style and subject matter. All were thoroughly absorbing – funny, dramatic, thought provoking, moving – and consumately performed. The festival was crowned with a performance of Jamie Hornsby’s breathtaking “Because There Was Fire”, winner of this year’s Newcastle Fringe Best New Work Award. It was a superbly crafted and directed drama with truly exceptional performances from the two actors. The gripping emotional rollercoaster held the audience spellbound throughout and was rewarded with a standing ovation at the end.  It’s great to see young people producing such exciting, high quality theatre. Kudos to director Danielle Brame-Whiting, to all performers and crew, to founder Josh Maxwell and his team, and to everyone involved with the festival. I can hardly wait for WTF 2019! But, in the meantime, Jopuka have another production at the Youth Arts Warehouse this month: the topical drama, “Gaybies” by Dean Bryant. Details are on the company website at

Gosford Musical Society’s “We Will Rock You”.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket and the performance I saw was great fun, with lively direction, sharp choreography, striking costumes and star quality performances from the leads. Special kudos go to the musicians. It takes outstanding talent to reproduce the music of Queen and this band really delivered. The standing ovation they received at the end was testament to their success. Congratulations to everyone involved!

GMS have two shows at Laycock Street Community Theatre this month. First their juniors production, “The Wiz”, then the ever popular “My Fair Lady.” More information and tickets are available from’s-on



*The Coast Arts programme airs Sunday evenings, 6-8pm on Coast FM 96.3

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Tickets now on sale !



Fixed photo - sml

The original Pearl Beach Glee Club was formed in the nineteen fifties to raise funds to complete the Pearl Beach Memorial Hall and they put on a number of “Grand Concerts”.  The Glee Club Singers was re-formed in 2010 by a group of local music lovers to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the original Glee Club.  The success of the anniversary concert encouraged the tradition to continue and each year members have maintained the pleasure of regular meetings around the piano.


Building on a splendid tradition the 2018 programme will surprise and delight with a great variety of local talent performed by extraordinary musicians – young and old, amateur and professional.


Both concerts will feature Copanello, enjoy the sublime voices of Anita de Lisen and Michael James, and returning by special request theatrical and television personality the extremely talented Chris King.  The audience will be invited to join in with some catchy sing-alongs and enjoy a number of funny skits.


Saturday will showcase a slightly different line-up of special guests including winner of the 2017 Pearl Beach Scholarship, guitarist Min Ahn and winner of the 2018 scholarship, pianist and vocalist Aaron Carey. Both concerts will feature the unique and at times quirky world of the Pearl Beach Singers.


Dr John Irvine, Master of Ceremonies comments, “we are delighted to feature our very special guests and some of the best youth talent discovered in the recent Pearl Beach Youth concerts. The theme ‘Around the World in 80 Minutes’ invites you to travel with us on a magical musical journey visiting traditional and unexpected places”.



Pearl Beach Memorial Hall

Friday  24 August 7.30pm

Saturday 25 August  2.30pm 


Adults $25 – Child $10 includes welcome drink


cash/enquiries: 0487 444 537


Proceeds  go toward the Memorial Hall upkeep



Photo: members of the Pearl Beach Singers having fun.   


Information and image courtesy of Lynne Lillico


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It’s another historical moment in The Rhythm Hut history, as we celebrate a milestone huuggeee 5 years in our space in Faunce Street, Gosford.
The Rhythm Hut

From humble beginnings, to holding a huge range of music classes and artistic workshops with hundreds of students each week; to supporting local music and arts with open mics, and Deck Sessions; branching out to book launches, documentary screenings, and dance classes; raising tens of thousands of dollars for various charities; and of course holding some huge live music events with National and International artists such as Nattali Rize (Blue King Brown), Rising Appalachia, Kim Churchill, Tijuana Cartel, OKA, Wes Carr, Wild Marmalade, Katchafire, Kallidad, Sahara Beck and loads more! Now it’s time for our biggest event of the year, and we want you to help us celebrate! We have 3 x super fun acts specially picked to make one HUGE night of entertainment. And of course we’ll kick off with a drum circle in true Hut style!


Bootleg Rascal
Ghetto-Dubsters, Bootleg Rascal, from Sydney and Gold Coast are masters of hip-hop infused jams and sonic brews: blending infectious alternative rhythms with “Exquisitely raspy vocals “ ( May 2015).


The band have been touring since they formed in mid-2013 when the group of misfits first met in the back room of a seedy Sydney gig. Soon after, they hit the garage and crafted together their first ep of original material and toured – up and down the east coast – their first gig was playing Woodford Folk Festival in 2013/14.


The burrito-slingin’ dub monsters released their first full-length album,‘Asleep In The Machine’ last year. The album hones in on their mutant dublactic hip-hop sounds and hooky song-crafting. The title track single, ‘Asleep In The Machine’, was added to Triple J’s rotation list the week of its release. Triple J were also able to help them participate in ‘Like A Version’ where they did a killer cover of The Weekend’s ‘The Hills’ and an original, ‘Asleep In The Machine’.


Nicky Bomba
“I’m always aware of the active energy of a crowd. Believing in the moment and kind of steering that spontaneous beast can result in something really special. Absolute positive vibrations.”


You’ve seen the KING of percussion play with John Butler Trio, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, and Bustamento. He’s played to packed stages at Bluesfest, Glastonbury and Montreal Jazz Festival, and now he’s ready to return to rock good ol’ Gosford!


Nicky has built a solid reputation in the music industry via many projects including conducting the 30pce Melbourne Ska Orchestra to playing drums on John Butler’s award-winning ‘Sunrise over Sea’ to be the Artistic Producer for the Multicultural Arts Victoria “Visible” project.


The live performance still holds sacred for Nicky who is eternally committed to creating a sense of community and unity whenever he plays. It is not uncommon for Nicky to go off on some magical tangent in order to really connect with an audience. Flying by the seat of his pants is something Nicky welcomes.


Rosie and the Quest

Rosie and The Quest is a six-piece soul project from the Central Coast, NSW. They draw inspiration from the strong future soul movement that has been developing in Australia for the last five years. Rosie and the Quest are looking forward to the upcoming release of their debut single ‘I Can Do This’, recorded and produced at The Nest Studios by Declan Kelly and Drew Bisset, and touring in 2018.



WHAT: The Hut’s 5th Birthday

WHEN: Saturday 18th August 6.00pm

WHERE: The Rhythm Hut, 135 Faunce St, Gosford
TICKETS: – EARLY BIRD – $30 + bf – On sale Wed 20th June – midnight Tues 10th July / $15 + bf kids 13 & under (limited tickets available)

– PRE SALE – $35 + bf adults / $15 + bf kids 13 & under (limited tickets available)

– DOOR (if available) – $45 adults / $25 kids 13 & under

MORE INFO: Lou 0420 682 258 or


Information and images courtesy of The Rhythm Hut publicity

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High Tea in The Forest

The Forest of Tranquility will resume High Teas in the Forest of Tranquility in the warmer months (as it is too cold to have them during winter). The high teas are held on the Last Sunday of each month from September to April from 2pm until 5pm. (We do have a special one for Mother’s day in May from 11am until 2pm). The $35 per head includes a guest artist, mellow music, a sculpture exhibition, a walk in the forest and a 10 mini treat High Tea with a great selection of herbal and black teas. We hope you can come and join us for a high tea in the next season.

For more information, please visit

Information courtesy of Emilia Krumm for The Forest of Tranquility.

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Shorethyme Annual Abstract Exhibition


Information and image courtesy of Shorethyme publicity

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Children’s Chorus to appear in Madame Butterfly at The Art House

Conservatorium Children

This winter, The Art House is giving 20 Central Coast children the opportunity to appear on stage alongside the stars of Opera Australia’s Madame Butterfly when it comes to The Art House this August. The Central Coast Opera Children’s Chorus, led by choir leader Phillip Rees, will learn the pieces from Puccini’s opera over the coming months and will perform on stage with Opera Australia’s singers and chamber orchestra.

Directed by John Bell and sung in English, Opera Australia’s Madame Butterfly follows the story of a U.S. Naval officer B.F. Pinkerton who is ashore in Japan and enchanted with its beauty and freedoms. He decides to take a wife, and when the gorgeous geisha Butterfly arrives, he is transfixed by her charms. She falls hopelessly in love, and a passionate marriage begins.

The choir will be taught by Opera Australia’s Children’s Chorus Leader in the week before the show, who will work with the children, who are aged 8-12, to put the finishing touches on the pieces and teach them wider understanding of opera and live performance.

The Conservatorium are thrilled to be involved in this production”, Said Patrick Brennan, Artistic Director of Central Coast Conservatorium. “This is a great opportunity for the Central Coast Opera Children’s Chorus and we are looking forward to seeing the choir represent the Central Coast on stage with Opera Australia.”

On the day of the show, the choir will rehearse with the Opera Australia chamber orchestra and opera singers before their stage debut on Monday 20 August in front a full house.


“We’re so excited to be able to offer this opportunity to these talented local singers”, The Art House executive director Anne-Marie Heath said. “Appearing in a world-class opera at their local theatre will be an incredible experience and one we are sure they will enjoy”.

Opera Australia’s Madame Butterfly, with the Central Coast Opera Children’s Chorus, will be coming to the Central Coast for one show only as part of The Art House Presents program. For tickets and more information about the show, visit: or contact The Art House box office on 4335 1485.

The Art House Presents

Madame Butterfly – Puccini

An Opera Australia Production

SHOW TIME: 2 hours 20 minutes

DATES: Monday 20 August 7:30PM

Tickets $25-$55

From / 02 4335 1485

Information and image courtesy of

Emily Miller | 02 4335 1485 |

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