A Brief History of the GSODA Junior Players

1965 - 2014


GSODA Junior Players first production in 1965 - Red Riding Hood

 


The Junior Players was the brainchild of Mrs. Dorothy Squire and Miss Noeline Jennings (sadly both of these ladies are no longer alive). Being active members of the Geelong Musical Comedy Company, they realised the need for a similar group specifically for young people.

With much lobbying and hard work, they encouraged members of GMCC to enroll their children for the first production “Red Riding Hood”, staged in the GAMA Theatre in 1965,  with a cast of 39, aged 8-16 years.


This production proved so successful the company went from strength to strength and by 1967 there were 85 members.

The aim of the company was to teach these young people the skills of theatrical performance and to also have a ready supply of youngsters for the many child roles in Musical Productions. This happened the following year when the GMCC chose the “King and I”. The entire Junior Players Company shared the juvenile roles.

The company performed two shows per year, one a Concert for parents and friends, the other a Full Musical Production, usually a Pantomime, performed for the general public in December.

“Red Riding Hood” was staged at the old GAMA Theatre (now known as the Alcoa Studio), as were several Concerts, but the Plaza Theatre was the Junior Players main performing ground until it’s demolition in 1978. For a period of three years until 1981, productions were staged in local school halls.
A new era was born with the completion of the Geelong Performing Arts Centre in 1981.

The company under the umbrella of GSODA Inc is managed by a Committee made up of parents and friends, many of whom are former members of the company. Members are now aged 11-17 years and the maximum membership is 65.
All new Junior Players members complete a three school term workshop, then audition to fill vacancies created by resignations, or those reaching “retiring” age of 17 years.

Currently the “major” Musical is performed in June of each year and a “variety/concert” style show is designed and performed in November each year. Both performances are in the Geelong Performing Arts Centre, the major show in the larger Playhouse Theatre and the “variety” show in the smaller Drama Theatre.

Production staff for each show are experienced and qualified in their respective fields and give their time voluntarily. Parents and friends work together to build and paint sets, sew costumes and all the other jobs necessary to produce a show.
Financially we rely on the public to support our shows, to cover both production and administration costs of the company.

Many past GSODA Junior Players have gone on to have professional careers in Stage, Television and film, to name but a few; Gary Deakes, Kate Turner, Martin Croft, Helen Adams, Gail Lee, Debbie Fraser, Kirralee Badham, Peter Coleman-Wright, Darylin Ramondo, Shane Lee, Gayle, Linda and Shelly Cocking (Chantel), Cindy Lee, Stuart MacDonald, Andre Jewson and of course Guy Pearce.

It is generally believed that The GSODA Junior Payers is the oldest children’s theatre company of its type in Australia.

 
Snow White - performed in 1966
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