ALBURY ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE: Nice night, just like that ’64 gig

A STEP back in time was how some guests described last night’s gala concert to celebrate 50 years of the theatre at Albury Entertainment Centre.

Men donning suits and women in evening dresses filled the foyer and theatre that brought memories flooding back to former Wodonga mayor Malcolm McEachern.

Also a former theatre performer with Coronet Playhouse, he said the “magnificent” building had stood the test of time and he wouldn’t have missed the 50 year milestone for anything.

“It’s like a step back in time,” he said.

“They have certainly gone to a lot of trouble — some of the same music performers are playing here tonight.”

Mr McEachern said there was only one thing missing.

“There were some big dignitaries at the opening back in 1964, including the NSW Premier,” he said.

Among the crowd were Barry and Wendy Donnelly.

The Albury couple started the Coronet Playhouse, the first theatre company to perform at the new Albury War Memorial Civic Theatre, which was the building’s original name.

The company’s first production was Douglas Stewart’s play Ned Kelly in July 1964.

“It’s nice to be back, it only seems like yesterday,” Mr Donnelly said.

Centre manager Brendan Maher said months of planning had paid off, with 500 expected.

“We have arranged a concert featuring some of the original performers from that spectacular night back in 1964,” Mr Maher said.

“It’s a very exciting night and a proud moment in the history of the theatre.”

Pianist Glennis Carter took just two steps into the theatre before she was recognised by some old familiar faces.

Mrs Carter, now of Melbourne, returned as one of the stars of the night — performing the same work on the same piano from the opening in 1964.

This time she was joined on stage by her two daughters and grandson.

“It’s an honour to be invited back,” she said.

“Brendan (Maher) has gone to a lot of trouble to research the original program and get us back here tonight.

“It’s also exciting to see some old faces that were here at the opening.

“It’s great to see some old friends.”

Also on stage were students at Albury High and Scots school, Jan Skinner, Glenn Starr, the Murray Conservatorium Orchestra, the Regional Academy of Performing Arts and the Flying Fruit Fly Circus.