You may almost be forgiven for thinking that Channel Nine's Married at First Sight is ground-breaking entertainment. But nay. Local theatrical society, The Beaudesert Amateur Players, under the creative directorship of Abby Hood, pipped Nine to the post with their own staged mock wedding in 1943.
In aid of the Fighting Forces Welfare Fund, The Australian Comforts Fund and The Red Cross Society, each player in the humorous marital farce was a local chap with a healthy sense of self, resplendent in full dress and makeup.
Following a hearty rendition of Me and My Gal by Tom Bourke, the scene was set by Valma Lucas as the marriage of "the most influential, immaculate, irresponsible, illiterate, inebriated and insipid families...of Marmaduke Eesasquirt (played by Mr Ernie Wishart) and Anastasia (Mr Rollie Houston), daughter of the Honourable and Mrs Blimey Whattabeaut."
Netting a respectable £75, the play was yet another rollicking success for charity, Abby Hood, and his company of comedic thespians.
Born in Gympie in 1898 and with a penchant for the humorous, Albert Henry (Abby) Hood was president of the Beaudesert Town Band and a prolific actor, producer and director, responsible for many local plays from 1931's Private Secretary (which raised £80 for the Beaudesert Convent Fund) to 1952's The Sunshine Girl, which contributed 350 pounds towards St Mary's swimming pool.
Glowingly complimented by the Beaudesert Times resident theatre critic, despite their amateur status, The Players were professional in their commitment to each performance and had audiences "rolling with laughter". Regular performers included Bob Doyle, Kathleen Plunkett, Harry Morse and Eileen Barnes.
As WWII forced fit, young players to take up arms and take off to distant shores - and with the latest war effort spawning renewed charitable causes - the show, as they say, must go on, and a new set of players stepped up to the stage. The regular musical interlude - usually provided by local singers, musicians and dancers - suddenly incorporated overseas musical talent from United States servicemen stationed at the Detention and Rehabilitation Centre near Beaudesert.
From his arrival in Beaudesert in 1930 and when not treading the boards, Abby Hood held down a day job as the licensee of the original Logan and Albert Hotel. In October 1934, three months after the hotel had been destroyed by fire, he and his wife Lilian purchased the free-hold title from David Dunn, vowing to rebuild in brick in a modern architectural style. As reported in The Times, their actions showed "unbounded faith in the town and district".
As the cultural hub of Beaudesert, the Technical Hall played host not only to Abby and The Beaudesert Players. It was the site of dances, musical recitals and cabaret evenings, provided amusement for local residents and raised much-needed funds for a plethora of contemporary charitable causes.
Before the advent of the more culturally-insular TV set, streaming services and Netflix, communities readily banded together to both entertain and to be entertained, to see and to be seen, and to enjoy both a splendid night on the town and to support absent friends, family, and total strangers. And that, in itself, was a jolly good show!
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.