A Few of Our Favourite Things

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

We all have favourite things, some carefully tucked away in the bottom drawer, others proudly on display. A special few of us pursue our favourite things with fervour. In celebration of the much-loved musical The Sound of Music, which comes to QPAC in March 2016, Story asked QPAC staff to share a few of their most cherished possessions. 

QPAC Museum curator : Christopher Smith 
“The QPAC Museum has well over 80,000 items in the collection; to select favourites is hard, like having a favourite child. The items chosen belonged originally to an array of talented artists who have shared their stories with QPAC. Dancer and soubrette Peggy Ryan, aerialist Olga Varona, actor, author and musician Denis Melksham, ventriloquist Malcolm McPhee and designer Bruce Auld, all remind me of the many thousands who continue to dedicate their lives to the performing arts in Queensland.”
Ginger the ventriloquist dummy
Malcolm McPhee who made Ginger, worked under the stage name of Walter Vernan and Ginger was originally called "Jerry".  McPhee and Jerry/Ginger entertained the troops in World Wars I and II, and toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s.
Peggy Ryan’s travelling trunk & Olga Varona's sequinned leotard
Peggy Ryan's travelling trunk - Before the days of airline weight limits an essential item for any touring artist was a sturdy travelling trunk. This one belonged to dancer, soubrette, magician's assistant, and dance mistress Peggy Ryan. Coming from a theatrical family, Ipswich-born Peggy toured with her family before she herself started to perform. In the 1940's she joined the Cremorne Theatre ballet, progressed to soubrette and Ballet Mistress there and at the Theatre Royal. She worked with all the famous comedians of the day, toured Australia & New Zealand, and played in vaudeville and pantomime. Peggy also performed with WW2 Forces Entertainment Unit. Olga Varona's sequinned leotard - Queensland-born Olga Varona was an acclaimed aerialist who started her career in circus before becoming a vaudeville headliner. With her husband and manager Archie Collins, Olga headed to the UK after WWII and toured for a decade, performing with some of the biggest names in variety, and was chosen be part of the 1947 Command Performance at the Palladium in London. Olga’s long red hair and elaborate costumes, all made by herself, were a feature of the act.
Trombone in case
This tenor trombone and its case belonged to George Jones who performed in the orchestra pit at the Cremorne Theatre in its early days, circa 1920s.
Denis Melksham hand bells
Wooden box containing 8 tuned brass hand bells.  Wooden handles of each bell is painted a different colour. Denis Melksham, who passed away in 2015, was a long time member of the Maryborough Players, as well as being an accomplished clown and musician. In various outrageous costumes for many years he lead the annual festival parade through the streets of Maryborough. Denis also collected touring, circus and vaudeville memorabilia from the Maryborough region, as well as writing, directing and acting in plays, musicals and pantomime.
Cremorne Theatre photograph, 1923
Framed photograph of the Humphrey Bishop Troupe on stage including Billy Maloney, with cane, Leila White, in the middle, and Grace Savieri, along with the band in the orchestra pit, at the Cremorne Theatre.
Isabel Kemp
QPAC's lovely CRM manager Isabel shares her favourite things.
Isabel's favourite things
“In one handful, I can travel the world. My small box of pins transports me to the places I’ve seen, events I’ve loved and the people I’ve shared them with. It started as a practical souvenir purchase when I was 14 years old and has since become a quest. This isn’t a collection, these are my stories.”
Isabel's favourite things - Pins
From Disneyland to New York, Corfu to Kingaroy, Isabel’s pins are her favourite reminder of the places she’s travelled and the memories she’s made.
Brett Howe
Our artistic director of Out of the Box festival Brett Howe shares his favourite things.“Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. You could say that these collections are my way of connecting to that energy. Oh, and I love to play.”
Brett's favourite things - Star Wars Characters
With Stormtroopers, AT-DP Walkers and Banthas, it was hard for the QPAC Story team not to get carried away in the world of play!
Brett's favourite things -    T-Shirts
A true kid at heart, Brett’s collection of over 200 Star Wars t-shirts is a true mountain.
Credits: Story


Queensland Performing Arts Centre

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