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The Galloping Grandmas take their final bows (1993)

December 27, 2012

90's Flashback

And so ends an era

Flashback to Variety Today 1993


DECEMBER 10 last year (1992) should have been the end of an era as far as Brisbane and the south-east corner of Queensland were concerned because it was to have been `positively the final performance’ of a group of ladies who had become affectionately known as `The Galloping Grannies’.

They have, during the past eight years, brough great pleasure to thousands of theatre-goers as well as themselves, not to mention their donation of thousands of dollars to the Royal Children’s Hospital in the State’s capital. However, so great was the demand for tickets at the Rialto Theatre that the manager and producer of the `girls’ farewell appearance – Neville Jones – had to hurriedly arrange one more performance on the folliowing Sunday, December 20, to accommodate those who had been left out at the Box Office on the previous Thursday.

This time the `final appearance’ was just that and to a fantastic and emotional reception the `Girls’ took their final curtain call before their enthusiastic audience which included their original producer and mentor, Wilson Irving AM, whose failing health had stopped him from completing the job he had started. Neville Jones did not let his predecessor down.

Apart from being a slick production with a well thought out mixture of experienced vaudevillians, the addition of a number of up and coming youngsters were included which must have given heart to many of us `oldies’ who fear that `vaudeville’ has become just a memory.

The Girls’ costumes, all made by themselves, were of exceptionally high standard and the whole show was done with enthusiasm and urgency that has always been so necessary to the Art of Music Hall.

Among the various performers were some well known names such as Brian Tait (Mr TV), Margaret Hennessy (Australia’s Vera Lynne), Michael Azar (Melodies and Memories), Janet Mackenzie (Theatre Royal Soubrette), Bill Brady (Tivoli Comic and now, incidentally, Mayor of Leichhardt) and Dorothy Farmer (Queen of the Xylophone).

Among the younger generation was a tap-dancing act, Robert Emblem, who not ohnly did a delightful segment of rapid numbers which left the audience breathless but later teamed up with an equally dexterous-footed young lady, Rebecca Jones, in a tap dancing routine which stopped the show. The latter named had already danced with another young dancer, Kane Bonke.

To conclude the bill was the popular young entertainer, Tom McCahon, who accompanies himself at the piano and is no stranger to Queensland audiences. He not only gave them 20 minutes of good entertainemnt but induced them to participate in singing along with some of the very old favourites.

The Kath McGrath Trio was a good foundation to the entire show and provided an excellent backing. Neville Jone’s participation in the show along with his `dizzy fingers’ at the piano adds to his credit along with his prowess as a producer.

Finally, what is there to say about the stars of the show – The Galloping Grannies? They performed wonders with their ageing bodies just as they have always done, their keenness and talent continues to shine through and their costumes were superb. They will be sadly missed.

Thank you Peggy Ryan, Mavis Donovan, Delores Rose, Jean Lane, Robin Pitceathly, Dawn Pitceathly (sadly no longer with us), Joan Pitceathly, Colleen Ryan and Joan Wilson (widow of Buster Fiddes). I suspect that we will never see the likes of you all again!

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