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Star Quality at Garrick Theatre

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at:
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There's nothing more divine than scrambled eggs
Sir Noel Coward's short story Star Quality, was published in 1951, a wickedly observant story about theatre veterans putting on a show.

In 1967, Coward reworked it into a play, but the result made little impact. Actor/director/writer Christopher Luscombe immediately perceived the problem as being one act too many, eighteen speaking parts and innumerable locations.

Luscombe's triumph is a sparklingly sophisticated adaptation about to be staged at WA's oldest community theatre, Garrick Theatre.

Photographer Michael McAllen working with Kath Jones (seated) and Marsha Holt (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)

The plot is fairly well-trodden - a theatre company putting on a show. Think Curtain Up, On Monday Next, Noises Off, Critic's Choice, the Little Grimley sagas and so on.

What gives Star Quality its edge is Noel Coward's long and intimate association with the stage and its stars. Stars such as Gertrude 'Gertie' Lawrence, who he first met when he was fifteen. According to Coward she "gave me an orange and told me a few mildly dirty stories, and I loved her from then onwards."

It's not impossible that the female lead from Star Quality, Lorraine Barrie, a bitchy but outrageously talented actress, is based on Gertie.

Star Quality is the story of a new young playwright Bryan Snow (Alan Gill), having his first play, Dark Heritage, directed by legendary director Ray Malcolm (Alan Morris) and starring Lorraine Barrie (Kath Jones). Starting by being thrilled Hayden rapidly finds himself in the middle of a battleground of warring egos.

L to R: Ray (Alan Morris) and Hayden (Alan Gill) rehearsing for Star Quality with Marsha Holt in the background (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)

Directed by community theatre doyenne, Lynne Devenish, the Garrick production has attracted some talented actors, both experienced and newly on the boards.

As well as those already mentioned, Susan Meikle, Alan Shaw, Ben Lowther, Chris Kennedy and introducing Monty as Bothwell, Lorraine's pampered pooch.

Bothwell (Monty) brings the star to Star Quality

The reason Lynne selected Noel's play was two-fold 'I have never done a Coward play and I was attracted to its sparkle and truly witty dialogue. At one point Lorraine refers to another actress as "All gong and no dinner" - very Coward and very funny.'

Star Quality opens at Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street, Guildford on Thursday the 2nd May and runs until Saturday the 18th.

Tickets cost $25 for adults ($22 concession). Bookings are now open and may be made through TryBooking here or by ringing Elaine on 9378 1990 or emailing

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Why? Crisp, witty, dialogue in a sparkling comedy.
When: 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Phone: 9378 1990
Where: Garrick Theatre, 16 Meadow Street, Guildford, WA
Cost: $25 Adults ($22 Concession)
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