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Hornsby Musical Society

Mr MATT KEAN ( Hornsby ) ( 5:07 ): I note that you found it hard to hear my call to speak, Mr Assistant Speaker, so you may not appreciate what I am going to speak about: the role that music plays in people's lives. I think we all agree that music plays a vital role in most people's lives and that we have all been caught humming songs from Oklahoma or Chicago at some point in time. I know the member for Macquarie Fields is a particular fan of music theatre. This year I was blown away by an unforgettable rendition of Guys and Dolls, which is why today I pay tribute to the Hornsby Musical Society.

In 1958 the Hornsby Musical Society was formed by a group of enthusiasts who staged concerts in St Peter's Church in Hornsby and then St John's Church in Gordon. The performances back then had a very different appearance, and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas—I know they are a particular favourite of the Assistant Speaker—were the flavour of the day. From those humble beginnings the Hornsby Musical Society has grown to become one of Sydney's premier amateur musical societies. The society later moved to Asquith Boys High School where its members performed no less than 40 times between 1972 and 1991. The cast and crew performed timeless classics such as Showboat and The Student Prince alongside modern legends such as Man of La Mancha and West Side Story. The society's involvement in the community had a profound impact as it was not only the society but the boys' parents and staff of Asquith Boys High School who made improvements to the school hall for both general and community use.

By association, members of the school community were able to improve their essential stagecraft and technical skills whilst having fun and building vital relationships for life. In the early 1990s the Hornsby Musical Society once again shifted its home base to Abbotsleigh Girls School. The move brought great success in 1995, with the society's stellar production of Les Misérables. A bumper budget of $96,000 and use of the school's grand auditorium established the Hornsby Musical Society as having created one of the best Sydney amateur productions to be hosted in a facility as large as the one at Abbotsleigh. The production was so successful that Jeremy Secombe, playing Javert in Les Misérables, moved to the United Kingdom soon after and is now playing the same role in the London concert version.

Despite the many successes of the Hornsby Musical Society, the group was again left homeless the following year when the Abbotsleigh venue was no longer available. In the following years the society had to endure life bouncing between different homes and halls while facing ever-increasing competition from other musical groups, bodies and associations. The lack of a permanent home became an ongoing problem, but that did not stop the musical society's talented men and women bringing joy to the local community. In 1998 the society introduced the mid-year play to maintain its special place within the community's calendar, to enable those actors who did not sing to have their voice heard and to allow more directors to share their visions. In 2005 the society found a new home at the Hornsby RSL Club, and it has been there ever since.

The Hornsby Musical Society is an invaluable resource as a creative outlet for all people, young or old. It involves not only actors and singers but also those behind the scenes such as directors, producers, set designers, costume managers, accountants, marketers and even the audience. Over the years many have come to realise that their passions and dreams can be their reality. Brian Stacey, the musical director for Australia's long-running Phantom of the Opera, was a founding member. Andrew Bevis of the society's alumni went to London and played Marius in Les Misérables in the West End before going on to land the lead role in London's Romeo and Juliet. Phyllis Horne, another life member of the society, has directed more than 35 productions and coordinated the costume department for more than 40 years, until 2006.

Although the world has moved on and life has changed, the society's dedication to excellence and hard work remains clear. All these achievements, however, would not be possible but for the efforts of a special few throughout the years. I acknowledge former president Paul Shelden and former vice-president Phillip Youngman for their years of dedication and countless hours of volunteer service. New president Sue Rowe is continuing the society's fine tradition in the Hornsby shire alongside her fellow committee members Rick Porteous, Sue Reed, Erica Penollar, Julianne Horne and Lauren Oxenham. They have helped inspire some of the society's most successful recent productions, including Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, Sing Your Dream Role and Gypsy. I thank the many different contributors who have made those productions so memorable—Tim Selby, Mark Daniels, Liesel Reville, Michelle Millgate and Alyssa Porteous. Having attended the society's most recent production of Guys and Dolls, I can honestly say that the acting and singing is amongst the best in Sydney. It is fantastic that in Hornsby we can boast about having one of Sydney's premier amateur musical societies.

Today I pay tribute to those who have made our community laugh and cry, and I look forward to attending many more incredible productions in the future. I also encourage the local community to attend the society's upcoming musical The Wedding Singer. I know the member for Tamworth would love to see it. This production promises to be another great show. I wish the best of luck to director Andrew Castle and his star cast: Jerome Varlet-Green as Robbie, Timothy Selby as George, Robert Johnston as Sammy, and Rosemi Hart as Julia. They will be supported on stage by other talented cast members Chloe Horne, Boshko Maksimovic, Sue Rowe Hurndell, Yasemin Tounjel and Rhiannon Winchester. I wish them many more years of success.

Mr KEVIN ANDERSON ( Tamworth ) ( 17:12 ): I commend the member for Hornsby for speaking about the Hornsby Musical Society in his private members' statement. Musical societies in New South Wales play an important role in the entertainment scene, particularly in regional New South Wales. We must remember that their members are volunteers who give up their time, for which we thank them. The Tamworth Musical Society is one of the most professional amateur musical societies in New South Wales. It recently produced Mary Poppins, which was a sellout. The cast are now in rehearsals for Wicked—The Untold Story of theWitches of Oz. Again, the volunteers put in countless hours of effort for our enjoyment and entertainment. I thank the member for Hornsby for alerting the House to that fact.

To see the full Hansard Transcript, click here.