Isabella city debut a hit

The cast of Isabella the Play includes Kath Palmer (right) as Isabella Mary Kelly, and (from left) Lyn Catt, Maggie Young, David Plant, Alan Hughston, Joy Obadin, Scarlett Palmer, Walter Heagney, Alan Catt and Rose Martelli.
The cast of Isabella the Play includes Kath Palmer (right) as Isabella Mary Kelly, and (from left) Lyn Catt, Maggie Young, David Plant, Alan Hughston, Joy Obadin, Scarlett Palmer, Walter Heagney, Alan Catt and Rose Martelli.

EVERYTHING really was alright on the night for Wingham Community Theatre's city debut.

The cast of Isabella the Play packed two cars full of props and costumes and boarded a train headed for the bright lights of the Cell Block Theatre in Darlinghurst for the Sunday April 16 performance.

"Everyone loved it," declared treasurer/secretary Joy Obadin.

A crowd of around 120 enjoyed the play, including some visually impaired showgoers.

The meaning behind the unique setting of the theatre - the exact location where Isabella Mary Kelly was imprisoned - was explained to the Sydney audience via a "delightful" opening monologue delivered by cast member Allan Catt.

"It was such a beautiful beginning," said Joy.

The lead up to the play was a busy one and the cast were understandably tired but they didn't let it show.

"We gave it our best shot and we're really happy with how it went," explained Joy.

"We're going to enjoy a hard earned rest now though!" She added.

The original article below "On stage in Sydney" first appeared in the Wingham Chronicle on April 13:

On stage in Sydney

WHEN Maggie Young first penned Isabella the Play she had no idea how popular it would become.

But five sold-out performances later and Maggie can happily concede "it definitely grew legs."

This weekend Wingham Community Theatre will take the play to Sydney to perform at the Cell Block Theatre in Darlinghurst.

It will be the sixth performance of the play and the most fitting venue to date.

The play focuses on Isabella Mary Kelly, the first single female pioneer in New South Wales who settled in the Manning Valley.

Wrongly accused of stealing her own cattle, Isabella Mary Kelly was imprisoned at Darlinghurst Gaol, now the site of the Cell Block Theatre.

Leading lady Kath Palmer will walk down the very steps to her 'cell' in the play that Isabella would have walked back in 1849.

"It is so exciting to think we will be retracing the steps of Isabella," Maggie said.

Cast member and costume designer Lynn Catt is equally enthusiastic about performing in Sydney.

"We're really looking forward to it," she admits.

"The exciting thing of course is it is in the Cell Block Theatre which has such a wonderful atmosphere."

Maggie wrote the play shortly after moving to Wingham from Newcastle in 2013.

She based the play on the book The Trials of Isabella Mary Kelly by local historian Maurie Garland and said at the time she hoped her work would give a voice to Isabella whose story has often been inaccurately told.

Back in 2014 when Maggie first put out the cast call, she made it clear she wanted ordinary locals.

She was more than happy with the folk that showed up and soon Maggie had her dream cast.

Two years and five shows later, there has been only a few minor tweaks to the original line-up.

"We have a great cast and they don't need scripts anymore," said Maggie.

The play is being dedicated to Newcastle activist and former Newcastle councillor, Margaret Henry.

Maggie first cast Ms Henry in her play Tighes Hill Story in 2004, cementing a strong bond between the pair.

"She was just the most wonderful person," said Maggie.

"Margaret inspired me to write this play and she had hoped to come and see the Sydney performance."

Ms Henry passed away in September 2015 from pancreatic cancer.

Tickets for Isabella the Play at the Cell Block Theatre, Darlinghurst on April 16 can be purchased by calling Jo Obadin on 6553 0982 or 0421 280 369.

sam.brownrigg@fairfaxmedia.com.au

This story Isabella city debut a hit first appeared on Wingham Chronicle.