The Burdekin Theatre, Ayr – Flashback to 1997

Thousands visit each year

On With the Show's

Flashback to 1997

WHEN you are next travelling to North Queensland along Highway One - the Bruce Highway - don't hesitate to call into the Burdekin Theatre. Thousands of visitors do so each year!

Once you have looked at, and photographed (which you will) the brilliant Stephen Walker sculpture of `The Living Lagoon', situated just as you enter the Theatre forecourt, make your way across the plaza to the Theatre itself.

It is guaranteed that you will spend perhaps up to an hour playing at `spot the starts' in the `Gallery of Stars' in the Theatre's Starlight Foyer.

Visitors find it difficult to quite comprehend just how many top international artists and, needless to say, virtually all of Australia's major stars who have appeared at the `Biggest Little Theatre in Australia' or `The Jewel in the Crown', as the Burdekin Theatre is known. But they have ... and a visit to the Theatre will tell you why, in a community of only 18,500 people, it has been a major success story.

Not only is the building a superb venue with a current estimated value of $12 million, but the surrounding grounds, with well manicured lawns and native flora are a joy to walk through or enjoy a picnic.

Masks Café caters for all events via its ultra-modern kitchen and caters for Dinner Theatre and Theatre Restaurant Shows. Masks is also open before and after each live show and at the intervals, to cater for patrons who enjoy a light snack to have with their favourite drinks from the well-stocked Foyer Bar.

Conference and seminar catering is a speciality and Masks Café is operated by the Friends of the Burdekin Theatre.

A visit to the Ayr section of the Complex would not be complete without your exploration of the Library building, the entrance to which is located opposite the stage door of the Theatre. A superb stained glass window is a creation of beauty and you are certain to wonder how the skilled craftsmen devised a method of erecting the pine-wood ceilings.

Although the Theatre does not have organised tours, its staff who are extremely proud of the venue will be happy to show visitors around the complex. And just who are the stars that have played at the `Biggest Little Theatre in Australia' and what are the top-line productions that have appeared? Obviously, since 1982, there have been quite literally hundreds and hundreds of artists and the best way to see them all is to visit the foyer where not only do the photographs signed in the Theatre abound, but also signed playbills and posters.

Just to whet your appetite, here are just a selection: The Queensland Ballet, Australian Ballet and Dance North, Queensland Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras; classical soloists Roger Woodward and David Helfgott, Australia's world famous pianists; Queensland, Melbourne and Western Australian Theatre Companies plus many of the more `commercial' production companies featuring overseas stars from popular television series - Ronnie Corbett, Val Doonican, Des O'Çonnor, Don `American Pie' McLean and Freddie Fender from the UK and the USA respectively; Opera Queensland and the Lyric Opera and so the list goes on!!

When it comes to Australian stars ... it is easier to say who hasn't been at the Burdekin - but to give you an idea it has hosted Gina Jeffreys, James Morrison, Slim Dusty, Rolf Harris, Jon English, Graeme Connors, Col Joye, Julie Anthony, The Four Kinsmen, Kevin `Bloody' Wilson, Simon Gallagher, Tommy Emmanuel, Rodney Rude, the Delltones, John Williamson and so many more.

The theatre has also played host to companies from Russia, Africa and many European countries. Community musical productions are a major part of the Theatre's operations. With budges of up to $50,000 per show, the stands are easily compable to any other Australian non-professional company's presentations and indeed some fully professional companies.

Shows over the years have included Lionel Bart's Oliver, Wizard of Oz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Hans Andersen and The King and I. Some of the show tour to other North Queensland theatres, following the Burdekin Theatre's presentations.

So, you are all invited to visit the Theatre, easily identified by the large illuminated sign in Queen Street, Ayr, North Queensland on the Bruce Highway. See for yourself ... the Biggest Little Theatre in Australia.

Memorial Hall at Home Hill

THE beautiful Memorial Hall at Home Hill, only 11 kilometres south of Ayr and 100 metres off the Bruce Highway in Ninth Avenue, is controlled by the Burdekin Cultural Complex Board Inc. This part of the B.C.C.B. Inc. Complex is extremely popular in featuring major balls, fashion shows, cabaret and dance nights and the fully air-conditioned venues are indeed `multi-purpose'.

The main hall is extremely modern with a flat floored ballroom and cabaret area, with a seating capacity at tables of up to 500 patrons. Concert style, 1000 patrons can be accommodated and modern dressing rooms are available. There is a front of house stage curtain, plus back drops, however, unlike the Burdekin Theatre, there is no `flying' facility for major shows.

A smaller hall is available for theatre restaurants, cabarets and weddings. In fact, both the main hall and smaller hall are the most popular wedding venues in the Burdekin region. A meeting room for up to 30 people is also available for hire.

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