Marie Clark Musical Theatre History
Marie Clark (née Hannaford) was born in Woodside in the Adelaide Hills in 1902 to a musical family, and began learning the piano at age 7. She soon turned to accompanying, firstly for her sisters who were string players, and later for ABC radio and local musicians, as well as international artists such as Dame Joan Sutherland. Marie had a real talent, but she decided to turn down a music scholarship in England, instead marrying her sweetheart, John 'Jack' Clark, in Adelaide. She continued to teach, accompany and perform in Australia, and entertained the troops in WWII with singing and accompanying other performers. After the war, the couple moved to Broken Hill, where Marie established herself as accompanist to the local men's choir.
They moved back to Adelaide in 1960 and settled in Tea Tree Gully. Marie's passion for music and teaching prompted her to start a singing group, which she directed and accompanied. Her group performed regular concerts in the community, and Marie always donated the proceeds to various charities such as Legacy, Red Cross, local churches and veterans. Marie's work in the community did not go unrecognised. In 1983, she was presented with a Rotary Award, and in 1984, she was named Tea Tree Gully Citizen of the Year.
As well as variety concerts, the group also produced musicals, beginning with Gilbert & Sullivan's Trial By Jury in 1961. The single-act musical must have been successful, as they performed it again in 1974 as the first official performance of the newly founded Marie Clark Singers. Since 1974, Marie Clark Singers has performed at least one musical every year, beginning with Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and moving to classic shows such as Brigadoon (winner of a Theatre Critics Award for Best Amateur Musical, 1987), South Pacific and Oklahoma! More recently, the company has turned to more modern musicals such as Forbidden Broadway (winner of a Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, 2012), Young Frankenstein - The New Mel Brook Musical (winner of Curtain Call Awards for Best Amateur Musical and Best Ensemble, 2014), and Jekyll & Hyde (winner of a Curtain Call Award for Best Male Performer, 2017). Now trading under the name Marie Clark Musical Theatre, the company describes itself as a progressive, non-professional theatre company that strives to nurture young talent and produce high quality musicals for the community.