Shopping around for stars

A TOE-TAPPING, finger-clicking, musical-in-the-making is searching for a cast of new and seasoned actors to tell the humorous story of a flesh-eating plant.

Yes, you heard correctly: Albany Light Opera and Theatre Company (ALOTCo) is back for 2018, and is putting on Little Shop of Horrors and wants you to be a part of it.

An information night will be held on January 31 at the theatre’s home turf, and director Airell Hodgkinson said the door is open to everyone.

“We don’t just sit there and go, ‘next!’; we are all warm and fuzzy and we support everyone who has a go,” he said of the audition process.

“We have lots of different people try-out too – we have plenty of people left-of-field who come in and get main roles.

“We want to encourage people to have a go, because you don’t know what it’s going to be like unless you have a go.

“What better way to start your first experience with the audition process, than with a community theatre?”

Little Shop of Horrors follows the story of a florist’s assistant on his quest for money, love and fame, with the help of an out-of-this-world plant that eats people.

Hodgkinson said the “quirky” play has plenty of roles for people, whether they want to be in the spotlight or behind the scenes.

“The original script had a cast of about eight people, so we’ve added roles to improve the accessibility to the play,” he said.

“It’s got very catchy music, a bit of rock and doo-wop and motown, and some new technical challenges with the puppets.

“The vibe of the show will be a mixture of the original film, the newer film and the musical.”

There are several roles up for grabs in Little Shop of Horrors: Seymour, the lead male character who is clumsy but the eventual hero; Audrey, dubbed “a tart with a heart”; Mushnik, the greedy owner of the flower shop and; the voice of The Plant, desired to be “James Brown meets Ray Charles in an evil way”.

If you think Little Shop of Horrors could be your next singing and acting venture, check out the ALOTCo website and Facebook page.

After the January 31 information night at 7pm, auditions will be held on February 3 and 4.

Audition songs and scripts will be posted on the Facebook page soon.

Rehearsals will be 7pm to 9pm Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and 9am Saturday mornings, and the musical is set to play throughout May.

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Holiday challenge

CHILDREN are encouraged to minimise their screen time and enjoy table-top board games and reading this school holidays, with the Albany Public Library’s most recent activity programs.

Free board game sessions are on offer to children aged five and over on January 18, 23, 24 and 25 at the library from 10.30am to 11.30am.

These board game sessions will feature the Holiday Lego Challenge, supernatural-themed board games, the chance to design a game board, and a party with Jamie the Clown.

The Summer Reading Club will also be running for the school holidays, where children aged up to 19 can log the books they read and obtain a prize for every 10 books they finish.

Youth Services Librarian Dora Adeline said the game program and Summer Reading Club were important in continuing children’s literacy skills during the holidays.

Bookings are essential for the board game sessions, and can be made online at

The Summer Reading Club registrations can be made online at, or you can pick up a form from the Albany Public Library.

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Masters teach electro magic

THE underground beat of electronica is emerging from the depths of the Great Southern this weekend at the Vancouver Arts Centre.

The Electric Dreams electronic music showcase and workshops invites people aged 16 and over to taste the talents of local musical masters and learn the tricks of the trade on Saturday, before an evening concert of electronic experimentation and dancing.

The three workshops are an opportunity for aspiring musicians to gain knowledge on how to create live performances and utilise the range of technology available to electronica musicians.

James Gentle from Brothers of Electro Defection will run the 1pm workshop and focus on sampler sequences, looping and FX pedals.

Jeremy Von Kobra from Allison Labs will take the helm at 2pm and show attendees how to create ambient music with a modular synth.

Craig Banister-Jones from Fluffy Bunnies and Teddy Bears will wind up the afternoon from 4pm and display the basics of how to create an outline of a track in preparation for a live show.

Banister-Jones will demonstrate sequencing, finger drumming and FX using Ableton Live.

The electronica performance will kick off at dusk and rage on until 10.30pm.

The 6pm concert will be held at VAC and cost $15 per person entry.

The talents of Allison Labs, Mid-Level Disturbance, Blue Rat, Brothers of Electro Defection, Tettervyk and Fluffy Bunnies and Teddy Bears will keep the beat pumping and provide an alternative Saturday night out.

Entry into the electronica workshops will cost $20 per workshop, or $50 for all three workshops, and the evening performance is just $15 a head.

Tickets for the workshops and concert can be booked through VAC on 6820 3740, arts@, or online at

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More than meets the eye

ROBOTS have taken over Vancouver Arts Centre, but the kids of Albany will be in control.

Artist Sandy O’Doherty said Robots – Cool Fun would see local ankle-biters create their own transformers, droids or automatons from recycled materials.

“We’ll be using polystyrene foam, plastics, a little bit of metal and wood, and predominantly screwing or hot-gluing the pieces and components together to create little robot animals, robots themselves or robot wall hangings,” she said.

“There is such a range of materials to choose from, it will really be up to each kid’s imagination and how bold they can go with their robot.”

The activity is inspired by the several ‘bots made from bric-a-brac that feature in Neil Elliot’s Creations from the Man Cave exhibition that runs at the centre until January 27.

“It’s a great idea for the kids to have a look at the exhibition before they start,” O’Doherty said.

“If they haven’t, I might send them down to have a quick look because it’s really fantastic for inspiration.

“With all the kooky variety of animals and robots and morphed types of objects, the kids will be really inspired and have something to work from.”

The robot workspace will be open from 9am to 4pm on January 12, 16 and 19, with workshops running from 10am to noon on those days for children aged 8 and 12.

Call the centre on 6820 3740 to book a workshop spot.

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Real stories reveal true colours

THE chance to expand on her one-liners inspired Perth comedian and ABC radio presenter Andrea Gibbs to fly halfway across the world to be coached by some of the industry’s best.

The product of that trip, Barefaced Stories, is coming to Albany on January 19 and will give people the opportunity to have a sneak peek into real people’s life stories.

Barefaced Stories is the love child of Gibbs and her best friend, Kerry O’Sullivan, and creates an evening of entertainment via live storytelling.

The Albany edition of Barefaced Stories, set to hit the Albany Entertainment Centre stage in just over a week’s time, will feature special guests and Albany locals – all of whom will break down their barriers and tell true stories from their lives.

Gibbs said Barefaced Stories is a chance for people to come together and show their true colours.

“Humans are natural storytellers, but we rarely really open up to each other and reveal the full picture,” she said.

“Our anecdotes sometimes have an Instagram filter on them, but Barefaced is all about stripping that down and revealing the reality of life.

“Stories, whether they are happy or sad – if they are told well – have the power to bring us all together, which helps everyone feel a little less alone in the world.”

Prior to the Albany performance, Gibbs will host two workshops at the Vancouver Arts Centre this weekend to help people ‘find their story’ and learn how to craft it for presentation.

The Saturday ‘Find Your Story’ workshop will go from 10.30am to 2.30pm, and Sunday’s ‘Craft Your Story’ workshop will be from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.

“The workshops are open to everyone that is willing to answer some questions about their lives and be honest with their answers,” Gibbs said.

“I spend day one mining people’s lives for stories that are worth sharing, and then on day two we try to share them.

“The workshops are a blast – interesting, funny and challenging.

“We learn a lot about each other and have a whole lot of laughs along the way.”

Tickets to the What’s Your Story? Workshop can be booked via and tickets for the AEC performance of Barefaced Stories can be purchased from the AEC Box Office or online via Ticketek.

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Curtain’s country calling

ENTERTAINER from the outback and true blue Aussie Tom Curtain will head down to Mt Barker and Albany this weekend for three big nights of country music and live demonstrations of cattle station life.

Queensland-born Curtain moved to the Northern Territory in 2001 to work at Mount Sanford Station, and was inspired to write songs about life in the red-dirt state.

This eventuated into the creation of his current business, the Katherine Outback Experience, which includes Curtain breaking-in a wild horse, watching how working dogs are trained, meeting trick horses and a live performance from Curtain himself.

His massive success, including charting at number one on the iTunes Country Album Chart in November, has led to his Katherine Outback Experience show tour stretching across regional WA.

Curtain and his show will visit Mt Barker tomorrow at Frost Park Pavilion at 6pm.

The country party will continue at the Kalgan Stampede on Saturday and at North Albany Football Club at 3pm on Sunday.

Curtain is touring with his new album, Territory Time, and is keen to travel the country.

“I’m really enjoying hitting the road and touring the Territory Time album throughout regional WA and Queensland, to towns and communities who wouldn’t usually get these sorts of events visiting their doorstep,” he said.

“People love the show because it’s raw and real.

“There are no flashing lights or production sets.

“We provide real horse breaking and working dog demonstrations – something the general public wouldn’t usually see.”

Curtain kicked off his tour in early November in Katherine, and has moved through Kununurra, Broome, Karratha, Tom Price, Geraldton, Tamworth and Queensland, and will finish off his country spell in south-west WA.

You can purchase tickets to Curtain’s WA performances online at

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Ballroom blitz for twirling trio

A SILVER medal and two call-backs have left three emerging Albany ballroom dancers with smiles on their faces after returning from a Perth competition in early December.

Albany Ballroom Dance Studio students Grace Franzinelli, Lorna Ings and Kara Ings participated in the Dance Masters International Australia Christmas Pageant on December 3 at the South Perth

Civic Centre, and their studio principal Donna Foster couldn’t be happier with the girls’ results.

Ten-year-old Grace participated in the bronze star and bronze standard grades, performing the waltz, quickstep, samba and jive.

She placed second in her waltz and quickstep sections.

Twin eight-year-olds Lorna and Kara performed in the grade two slow rhythm, evening three-step and jive sections, receiving a call-back for their talented moves.

The three youngsters were among more than 100 people from across the state vying for gold in the popular Dance Masters competition.

“It was a really long day, but the girls stuck to it and they danced beautifully,” studio principal Donna Foster said.

“I am very proud of Grace’s medal and Lorna and Kara’s call-back. They were all amazing.”

Ms Foster said Dance Masters competitions were held about six times a year, but the smaller group of students and long-distance travel often restricted the dance studio to visiting Perth only once a year.

“I’d love for more people to join us, so we can take more students up there,” Ms Foster said of the Perth competitions.

For those interested in learning a few new moves, Ms Foster at Albany Ballroom Dance Studio can be contacted on 0407 980 010.

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Masters of the dance floor

ALBANY ballroom power couple Jim Watmore and Helen Gee have twirled and dipped their way into the dancing hall of fame after triumphing at the Australian Dancesport Championship in Melbourne.

Mr Watmore and Ms Gee are now the current Australian Masters 3 Dancesport champions in C-grade New Vogue dance style, and in B-grade Latin dance.

The pair, both in their early 60s, also achieved fifth in the B-grade standard class, fourth in the open Latin class and made it through the first round of the open new vogue and standard classes.

They were ecstatic with their wins and are already gearing up for next year’s competition.

“Helen and I couldn’t be any happier with our performance,” Mr Watmore said.

“Becoming master champions hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”

The performance at Hisense Arena was the couple’s first competitive visit to Melbourne, and they are keen to return next year to continue their gold streak.

“With approximately 40 couples in the Masters 3 field alone, the competition was fierce right from the word go,” Mr Watmore said.

“Helen and I were the only Masters 3 competitors from WA, with a high concentration of couples coming from Victoria and New South Wales.

“It was invaluable experience to be competing against so many couples from other parts of Australia and we relish the challenge of going back next year to defend our titles.”

After just one week’s rest, the seasoned dancers were right back into training with their coach, Joy Hearn, to whom they dedicated their fantastic result.

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Collective crafts by harbour

ALBANY is again being spoiled for choice this Christmas with a pop-up gift gallery appearing at the Albany Entertainment Centre.

Make A Scene Artists Collective has brought together a variety of Great Southern artisans to give them the opportunity to showcase and sell their art, in a scheme known as The Harbourside Project.

Photography, crafts, ceramics and glass art are among the diverse range of gifts in the gallery, and they have arrived in town just in time for Christmas.

Borden artist Jill O’Meehan is an installation artist and is responsible for the colourful jellyfish hanging above the pop-up gallery under the AEC main stairwell, near the View restaurant.

She is selling her jewellery, prints and crochet Christmas decorations as part of The Harbourside Project.

“The pop-up gallery is great, because it creates intense interest over a short period of time,” Ms O’Meehan said.

“It’s a good atmosphere here, especially as it’s somewhere different.

“It gives people the chance to support local artists and buy original artwork for a gift.”

The Harbourside Project will be open until January 7, keeping the hours of 10am to 3pm, Tuesday to Sunday, and will be closed from December 24 to 27.

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Fiery crack for new year welcome

THE new year will kick off with a bang in Albany this year with an array of family-friendly activities planned, as well as a busy schedule of nightlife fun for those wanting to welcome in the new year in town.

From 4pm, the Anzac Peace Park will be busy with live entertainment and performances from local talents, including aerial performers Natural Wings and Jamie the Clown.

Food vendors will also be at the Anzac Peace Park to encourage families to come down for a picnic.

The family fireworks will commence at 9pm and the traditional fireworks will see in the new year at midnight.

Vantage points for the fireworks include the Anzac Peace Park, Stirling Terrace and the town footbridge.

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