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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Her Majesty's Pleasure

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Book cover Book cover Image courtesy of Wakefield Press

HER MAJESTY'S PLEASURE by Frank Van Straten (Wakefield Press $39.95)
Australia's pre-eminent theatre historian Frank Van Straten has been at it again, this time documenting the 100 year history of Adelaide's Her Majesty's Theatre, affectionately known as the Grand Old Lady of Grote Street. Originally built in 1913 and called the Tivoli, then one of many around Australia, it is now the only Tivoli theatre still standing. Starting as a vaudeville and variety house that saw the likes of W.C. Fields, Sir Harry Lauder, and Stiffy and Mo treading its boards, the venue has presented a kaleidoscope of entertainment throughout its history. From classic musicals like My Fair Lady, Camelot, The Rocky Horror Show, and innumerable ballet and opera companies, to operetta, jazz and rock 'n' roll with lots of comics, grand pageants, movies, university revues, amateur Rep., and boxing and wrestling in between. John Guilgud, Marcel Marceau, Reg Livermore, Spike Milligan, Danny La Rue, Julian Clary, Whoopi Goldberg and Barry Humphries are just some of the stars who have performed there in one-man shows. Humphries claims it's his favourite Australian theatre. He first appeared there in 1953 playing a Welsh peasant in Emlyn Williams Wind of Heaven during a University Drama Festival. Apart from Humphries, other major talents to emerge from the theatre have included; Keith Michell, Robert Helpmann, Bobby Limb, Robyn Archer, Glynn Nicholas, Paul Kelly and Glenn Shorrock. Milestones have included the premiere of the first Australian musical, F.F.F., in 1920, the premiere of Robert Helpmann's ballet Electra before the Queen Mother in 1966, and Menopause – The Musical's record-breaking run of 20 weeks in 2007. Written in the same format as Van Straten's previous work on the Tivoli, fifty per-cent of the book is photographs. And what marvellous photographs they are. They not only capture the stars and styles of the eras, but also a changing Adelaide as well. Her Majesty's Pleasure is much more than a pleasure it's a banquet of riches. Handsomely produced by Wakefield it comes with an extensive index. Peter Pinne

Read 3078 times Last modified on Saturday, 29 June 2013
Peter Pinne

Peter Pinne's musical theatre career reached a peak in 1995 when his and his longtime collaborator, Don Battye's musical Prisoner – Cell Block H The Musical opened a season at the Queen's Theatre, London and became a cult hit subsequently touring the UK in '96 and '97.

Prior to that he and Battye had written many musicals produced in Australia that included CarolineA Bunch of Ratbags, Red White & Boogie, and Sweet Fanny Adams. Their musicals for children, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Little Tin Soldier, The Shoemaker & The Elves, Jack & The Beanstalk, Beauty & The Beast, Rumpelstiltskin and Billabong Bill have become a staple of the children's theatre scene since they were originally produced at the Alexander Theatre, Melbourne.

Peter Pinne's other musical collaborations include; A Bit O' Petticoat with Ray Kolle, Pyjamas In Paradise with John-Michael Howson, and Mavis Bramston – Reloaded and Suddenly Single with Paul Dellit.

He has also had a high profile career in television where he worked for the Grundy Organization on such iconic shows as Neighbours, Prisoner, Sons and Daughters, The Restless Years, The Young Doctors, and Secret Valley amongst others. He has also worked in the U.S., Latin America and Indonesia producing television drama, game shows and sitcoms for Pearson Television and Fremantlemedia.

From 1999 until the end of 2007 Mr Pinne was the owner and president of Bayview Recording Company, Los Angeles, USA, a boutique label who newly recorded and reissued CDs aimed at the show music market. These included over twenty recordings from New York Town Hall's concert series Broadway By The Year.

Apart from scripting television drama, he also wrote, with Battye, the theme song for the series Sons and Daughters. Other music credits include the score for the award winning movie A City's Child. He is the author of the discography Australian Performers, Australian Performances, and currently writes for On Stage and Stage Whispers.

In late 2019 he released The Australian Musical: from the beginning, a definitive history of Australian musical theatre, co-authored with Peter Wyllie Johnston, and published by Allen & Unwin in association with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.