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 1976 - 1978 DATELINE

June 1976

Rod and Aero go into Leeds Music Factory (Oxford Street, Darlinghurst) to record Lock Me Away.

July 1976

Rod takes Ciao Rudy (Aero, Garry Rowe, John Vender, David Vender and Craig Jennings) into Leeds Music Factory to record No Longer Mine (soon to become the theme song for That's The Way It Is!).

23 December 1976

Rod takes The Anti-Cringe Jazz Blues Band (Calvin, David Kinsey, Garry Rowe, Brett Anderson and Craig Jennings) into Leeds Music Factory to record Summer Days and Rag Kazoo.

December 1976

Calvin approaches Rod to write a rock and roll musical. Writing commences on journeys home from work in Calvin's Hunter Safari. Pen is put to paper at Rod's family home in Cronulla, under the influence of casks of white wine.

10 June 1977

An introductory letter is sent out to old school friends and new work colleagues in search for a cast and crew. Anna Thomas is approached to play the lead role of Suzi, and her mother Jacque DePaul is approached to be producer and choreographer.

18 June 1977

Rod and Calvin take Aero, Dave Vender, Craig Jennings, Garry Rowe, Anna Thomas into Leeds Music Factory to record three show songs:- That's The Way It Is!, Lock Me Away and He's My Man.

mid June 1977

Initial gatherings are organised with Rod carrying a cassette player with piano demos of the songs in the show. At Colin Abrahams and Kim Lambert's house in St Leonards. Rod and Cal were surprised to be pitching their show to more than twenty friends and friends of friends.

early July 1977

The first general meeting is held at Rod's home in Cronulla and 1st draft of the cast is announced.

4 July 1977

A general letter notes that "The Bar Will Be Open" - The first meeting for everyone to have a look at Newtown Rules Club. More cast members and the stage crew are announced.

8 July 1977

The 2nd general meeting at Ken, Dave Lamb and Peter Reid's house in Mortdale.

early July 1977

Aero designs first poster for the show - a left hand holding a smoking joint.

14 July 1977

Backing tracks for Cocaine, Suzi and We're Not To Blame are recorded at Leeds Music Factory. Gail Crowley sings a new vocal on He's My Man, and Scott Blick sings a new vocal on Lock Me Away. Aero, Dave, John Vender, Craig and Rod play. Calvin, Ken and Katrina attend. Shad Lyons, as always, is the engineer.

July 1977

Set designs (by Bruce Ferguson) are finalised and building commences at Ken's house in Mortdale. Enormous paper mache mushrooms are called for to be used as props by the "mushlings" in Illusions.

20 July 1977

Ciao Rudy record the band track for Lost Lovin' Blues at Leeds Music Factory.

27 July 1977

The 'mushlings' are dropped. The enormous paper mache mushrooms are scrapped. The cast is almost final, with Drew Bernhardt still listed as playing Reverend Chris.

during July 1977

Rehearsals under Jacque DePaul commence in Arncliffe (Monday nights) at St David's Church hall and South Hurstville (Thursday Nights) at St Martins Church hall. Boys and girls are taught to "step, ball, change". After rehearsal drinks are consumed at Kings Head Tavern, South Hurstville.

1 August 1977

The Monthly Report for August shows rehearsals for leads taking place at Mortdale (Dave and Anna), at Darling Point (The Druggettes) and for the band at The Hole, above the butcher shop, in Hurstville. Calvin directs the dialogue rehearsals.

2 August 1977

Calvin and Rod sign a songwriters contract with Leeds Music giving them the publishing rights to the songs in the show. This injects $500 into the production. All up, $4,500 is raised by December, thanks to the help of small businesses and raffles. Les McGuire, Sydney's Leading Butcher gives the team a leg of lamb to raffle each week. Ken Healey's father, James Healey and Co donates $300 to the show.

5 August 1977

The 3rd General Meeting is held at Gail Crowley's in West Kogarah.

6 August 1977

Saturday afternoon rehearsals start on stage at Newtown Rules Club.

9 August 1977

The Drug Referral Centre in Manly is formally approached - would they put their name behind our show? Yes, they did!

early August 1977

Ken Healey is busily ordering set materials from Thatcher and Oberg and MacPhersons.

mid August 1977

The final cast member, Craig Franckom is named as Reverend Chris. The average age of the entire company of 41 cast, band and crew is 20 years old.

mid August 1977

Stephe Churm designs the bill poster for the show - the left hand holding a smoking joint. Designed in black and white.

mid August 1977

T Shirts are printed by Team Tops in Kingswood and bumper stickers are printed through Robert Wing by Adept Name Plates. Letterheads are printed through Carol McNally by Jerry Hayes.

16 August 1977

Elvis Presley dies aged 42.

25 August 1977

The Monthly Report says "15 weeks to lift off". There's disquiet in the ranks as some of the chorus members are "pulling the chain" at rehearsals. Some aren't even turning up!

26 August 1977

The 4th General Meeting is held at Quill's home in Blakehurst. The band plays and 200 people turn up. The PA is supplied by Kate Wentworth Rogers of Bellevue Hill. The meeting moves over to party!

27 August 1977

Cast and crew meet at Newtown Rules to clean out the backstage area to make way for dressing rooms. The girls' dressing room is in the small area off to the left of the stage and a ladder is put in place, this being the stage access for the boys whose dressing room is on the mezzanine level of the club.

late August 1977

The Druggettes' song, Calvin's "Breakfast At Nite" is dropped from the second act of the show by Rod and Jacque causing consternation in the ranks.

late August 1977

Ken, Stephe Churm and the boys in the band move a 500lb piano into The Hole. Lives are almost lost on the rickety stairs that lead to The Hole on the 1st floor.

early September 1977

General Meetings are changed to Saturday nights - i.e. more parties!

mid September 1977

Ciao Rudy play at Cahill's South Seas Restaurant in Darlinghurst with Anna, Garry, Katrina, Dave Lamb and others joining in on vocals. The wine-bar is packed with cast, crew and friends for the rage.

27 September 1977

Costumes by Billy Robinson are underway - The "Coppers" popster costumes are finished.

early October 1977

Rod meets American impersonator Danny Shaw, through entrepreneur Bill McColl, who records the opening voice over in the show, "Well kid, that's the way it is!"

7 October 1977

An extra ordinary Meeting is held at Ken's house in Mortdale for those in the cast taking part in the forthcoming fundraising night at Maroubra Seals Club.

8 October 1977

A Sheet Party is held at Ken and Peter's house in Mortdale for Anne Louise, Vicki and Peter's birthdays. The band plays in the backyard.

11 October 1977

Recording of Illusions at Leeds Music Factory.

mid October 1977

Final dates for the show's performances are set. Opening on Thursday 8 December, then on 9th, 10th, Monday 12th, Thursday 15th, 16th, and Saturday 17 December.

15/16 October 1977

The stage crew move into the club to start set construction proper.

15 October 1977

The 5th General Meeting is held at Calvin's house in South Hurstville. It is a Tequila Party.

22 October 1977

The 6th General Meeting is held at Danish Delight Restaurant in Sans Souci. An impromptu party ensues afterwards at Quill's. Many a rage has been had at Quill's house but with his parents due back from an overseas trip - this "venue" has to "close down".

27 October 1977

With funds running low, John Campbell of the Artists Answering Service helps organise a fund raising night at Maroubra Seals Club (with thanks to John MacCormack and Marlene Atchison). Billed as a "Sneak Preview" some of the cast perform a truncated production of That's The Way It Is! to a packed auditorium. Colin Abrahams handles the attrocious in-house sound system. As Anna performs Roachy, I'm Sorry schooner glasses fly across the stage and a fight breaks out at the bar. More ugly scenes follow with a brawl outside the club at the end of the night. 600 tickets are sold raising $1,200 for the December season.

31 October 1977

The 7th General Meeting is held (location unknown) and Peter Reid calls for help making 2,000 paper flowers for the Illusions scene. With 6 weeks to go reheasals are stepped up. Quill is noteably thanked for the use of his parents' house. Colin announces we will have a 16 track mixer used recently in Supertramp's tour of Oz.

late October 1977

Lex Marinous on 2JJ Brekkie with Leckie interviews Calvin and Rod.

early November 1977

Publicity starts to roll with the help of Ingrid Berg - who donates her services for the Newtown Rules Club season.

12 November 1977

The 8th General Meeting is held at John Richardson's house in Kyle Bay.

mid November 1977

With pressure coming from all fronts, Jacque temporarily resigns from the show. This action rocks the company. A meeting is called and she agrees to return on 21 November.

21 November 1977

Full rehearsal at Newtown Rules with set and props.

28 November 1977

Full rehearsal with set, props and lights.

late November 1977

A $17,000 sound system moves into Newtown Rules. Supplied by Mike Rika and wired up by Colin Abrahams.

late November 1977

Bill posters designed by Stephe Churm start going up around Surry Hills telegraph poles.

Saturday 3 December 1977

Full rehearsal with band at South Hurstville.

Saturday 3 December 1977

The Final General Meeting is held (address unknown).

Sunday 4 December 1977

First newspaper publicity in "Sunday", Di Arthur's column, "Scene Around"

Monday 5 December 1977

Full rehearsal with set, props, lights, band and sound.

Tuesday 6 December 1977

No rehearsal. Stage crew final adjustments.

Tuesday 6 December 1977


Tuesday 6 December 1977

Mac Cocker on 2JJ interviews Rod.

Wednesday 7 December 1977

Full dress rehearsal.

Thursday 8 December 1977

Gala Premiere of Newtown Rules Club season.

Thursday 8 December

The Sun, "CAL MAKES IT ROCK" column by John Hanrahan.

Friday 9 December 1977

Tonight's performance is videotaped.

Saturday 10 December 1977

After the performance a party is held to celebrate John Vender's 21st birthday.

Monday 12 December 1977

Extra Gala Performance for entertainment industry.

Saturday 17 December 1977

The final performance is followed by a party at Newtown Rules Club. The final performance is taped on 1/2" by Colin Abrahams. It is also Carol McNally's birthday.

January 1978

Talk of a second season of That's The Way It Is! gains momentum. A new venue is needed. Some cast and crew have had enough, and replacements need to be found. Rod writes some new tunes for a second production, For A Lifetime, One Eyed Marijuana, Answers Don't Come Easy Not To Me, Love's A Funny Game and a new theme song.

mid January 1978

Figures for the Newtown Rules Club season are in. Door takings for the seven nights totals $5,700. After production costs The Drug Referral Centre receives $1,800. (Newtown Rules Club make over $6,000 from the bar sales).

23 January 1978

A General Meeting is held at Calvin's where it is announced that rehearsals for a second season will commence on 7 February.

February 1978

Encore Magazine - Andrew Urban's review of Newtown Rules Club performance.

early February 1978

Calvin and Rod hope they've found a backer in St George Permanent Building Society. The budget for the new six week season is $15,000.

4 February 1978

A meeting with solicitor Phillip Smiles is organised and Cal and Rod receive advice on the "business side of show biz". The cast will need to join Actors Equity. A co-op needs to be set up, percentages worked out, etc...

6 February 1978

The first Monthly Report for 1978 reads that the show will go on at The Independent Theatre on Miller Street, North Sydney - now known as The 269 Playhouse. The theatre is an empty shell, run down and unused for years. The new operator, John Howitt hires the premisis to Calvin and Rod for $500 per week. The theatre needs painting, seating, a total workover. Dave Kinsey and his boys will crawl through the ceiling laying hundreds of metres of lighting cables. The coffee shop and lolly bar are scrubbed. Scaffolding is marched in by mushrooming hippies. The next three months' preproduction sees cast and crew members sleeping in the theatre between long stints of building, bashing and rehearsing. In early weeks crew are kept alive by banquets of food brought into the foyer by Leigh Jayne and others.

11 February 1978

Most cast and crew attend an Aquarians Party at Ken's house in Mortdale for Rod, Aero, Anna and Kim Lambert. The band play with many guest singers.

mid February 1978

Cal and Rod travel to Newcastle to view the Civic Theatre and the Newcastle Workers Club auditorium as possible venues for the show. Hugh Collitz, of the CMLA (Civilian Maimed & Limbless Association), also takes the boys to television broadcaster NBN where they screen the Newtown Rules Club video to executives from radio station 2NX. Cal and Rod feel special, as Hugh Collitz foots the bill for the overnight room in a downtown Newcastle motel.

22 February 1978

The second Monthly Report reads that St George Building Society have dropped out! Rehearsals will go on without a prospective backer. The office and kitchen in The 269 are now operational. A passer-by with clown face and fire sticks drops in - Kym Newman - and never leaves. Rehearsals are underway for a St George Leagues Club performance on Monday 20 March. Cast changes are underway - Scott Blick left to join the Philharmonic Choir (but has agreed to do the leagues club show). Barry Collier and Craig Irwin leave to be replaced by Rod Starr and Colin Berkinshaw. Colin's sister, Rhonda gets a role in the chorus, then breaks her leg the next day. A few other cast roles still to fill - and John Vender opts out for Uni studies. And there's talk of the show going to Newcastle, through Hugh Collitz of the CMLA.

March 1978

There's lots of activity, meetings and arguments trying to establish fair percentage splits of expected net door receipts. A final budget of $12,000 is settled on. Because of the size of the theatre (vs the Newtown Rules room) sets have to be extended, lights and sound have to be redesigned and a band pit has to be built. Dates are set - a six week season 4 May - 10 June with performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, plus a Saturday matinee.

17 March 1978

Anna appears on Network 10, The Maggie Eckardt Show singing Roachy I'm Sorry, accompanied by Rod on piano.

20 March 1978

That's The Way It Is! performed at St George Leagues Club in support of The Echidnas' roast of John Campbell. An audience of 900, mostly industry folk, hears songs from the show. Vicki O'Neile performs Love's A Funny Game, a new song intended to replace She's Still His World in the 1978 production.

23 March 1978

Calvin and Rod have found a backer in Dineil Management and sign today. David Peart and Geoff Widdowson saw the Newtown Rules show and offer $12,000 to the boys.

23 March 1978

Glenn Vinson and Colin Clissold join Dave's lighting crew. Auditions for a new Roachy continue - Brian Sumner and Mark Gable are on the short list (but neither become Scott's replacement). Wayne Beckett and Wendy Lapham from Western Australia join the crew. Wendy and Stephe Churm team up to operate the Coffee Shop in The 269 Playhouse foyer.

29 March 1978

St George and Sutherland Leader, "WRITTEN BY TWO LOCALS" reviewing the St George Leagues Club preview show.

late March 1978

Publicity starts to role with Ingrid Berg hired for six weeks of her services.

5 April 1978

A letter from Calvin and Rod to Leeds Music reads that Brian Phillips, Christo Hayes, David Cohen, Cathy Scott and Terese Moran have joined the cast.

6 April 1978

A General Meeting at The 269 Playhouse gets hot when the topic up for discussion is percentage breakdowns of net profits for the cast and crew. Cal and Rod are flanked by their new backers.

early April 1978

Calvin and Rod take Ciao Rudy and The Druggettes into Leeds Music Factory to record Out Of It. Christo sings a new vocal on Lock Me Away and Dave Lamb and Anna sing a vocal track on For A Lifetime / Suzi. The intention is to release a 7" vinyl (including Rod's Crazy Existence to round off the 4 track EP). The single is never printed.

8 April 1978

A Return To Newtown Rules party featuring the band plus The Steve Johns Trio, Dave Lamb, The Amazing Acid Brothers, Ocean Cafe and Johnny and The Hitmen rages all night. The city punkers arrive for Johnny and fights break out at the side and rear of the club.

10 April 1978

Handbills designed by Dennis Collins are printed featuring the Sydney Harbour Bridge and our joint-holding hand.

mid April 1978

Press advertising commences. More bumper stickers and T shirts are printed. Tickets and new colour programs are underway, printed by Cloister Press in Alexandria.

mid April 1978

Weekend sojourns to Araluen become a habit - "Araluen, half way there, let's go!" A way to escape the show, the core group of (mainly) boys make the 5 hour trek south to Araluen's glorious goldtops.

17 April 1978

The third Monthly report reads that Dave's lights arrive in the theatre this week, the stage is clear of junk, and rehearsals in the theatre commence on 27 April. The band pit is ready and the boys have moved in. All cast have signed Actors Equity forms.

21 April 1978

Vicki O'Neile is recorded in The 269 with the band singing Love's A Funny Game.

22 April 1978

The band records eleven minute Illusions jam and Basin Street Blues at The 269 with Brian Clarke guesting on saxophone.

late April 1978

A Current Affair's Paul Makin interviews Cal and Rod in The 269 Playhouse. The interview includes the filming of If The Coppers Could See Us Now, performed live by Paul, Colin, Rod Starr, Anna, Rhonda and Ciao Rudy. During Makin's interview John Howitt objects when Rod states that the cast and crew painted the theatre - John Howitt insists his drama school students assisted. Paul Makin spits the dummy - and calls the whole interview off. Ingrid Berg has to save the story with some post-interview schmoozing.

late April 1978

Bill posters start going up around city telegraph poles.

early May 1978

Radio interviews done with Jimmy Hannan (2UE) and Mike Gibson and Mike Moore (2SM).

Wednesday 3 May 1978

The Manly Daily article appears about the show opening tomorrow night.

Wednesday 3 May 1978

Full dress rehearsal at The 269.

Thursday 4 May 1978

The Gala Premiere - with Kym Newman spewing fire over passing vehicles on Miller Street, a full house, and rain storms beating on the tin roof, That's The Way It Is! opens for a six week season at 269 Playhouse. Stephe and Wendy have the Coffee Shop operating.

6 May 1978

John Richardson turns 21 and a party is held in the rehearsal rooms on 1st floor of The 269 after the night's performance. John Howitt arrives pissed-off mid-party threatening to throw us out of his theatre. Ultimately he is calmed by various members of the crew.

10 May 1978

Daily Mirror, "HORROR SHOW"

15 May 1978

The Sun, "BEING CRUEL TO BE KIND" review by John Hanrahan.

15 May 1978

Nicki Brown of 2MBSFM interview and half-hour chat with Calvin and Rod.

19 May 1978


mid May 1978

Chris Winter on 2JJ interviews Calvin and Rod.

mid May 1978

One Saturday performance has no audience at all! A general meeting is called in Stephe and Wendy's Coffee Shop. No audience - no show, until one voice pipes up, "I've got a ticket!" The question goes up, "Should we put the show on for ONE patron?" Not when it's learnt it was a freebie given to him by Kym Newman. Dion, the ticket holder, became a friend to many in the crew and settled for seeing the show on another night!

21 May 1978

Sunday Telegraph, review by Norman Kessell.

22 May 1978

Daily Telegraph Green Guide, "BOYS NEXT DOOR ROCK ON"

24 May 1978

Daily Telegraph, "THE CATCHY WAY IT IS" reprint of Norman Kessell's review

24 May 1978

Variety Magazine (USA), "THAT'S THE WAY IT IS!" review by Norman Kessell on 12 May performance appears in US trade magazine.

24 May 1978

Katrina has a car accident and The Druggettes will be two for next weekends performances.

25 May 1978

Daily Mirror, PS column, "SICKIES" - a cast member has hepatitis!!

25 May 1978

The fourth Monthly Report reads, "With two weeks of performances complete gross door takings are $2,214." The Saturday matinee isn't working but an extended season is being discussed. Rod Starr has hepatitis and Peter Lambert returns to the cast. Dave Kinsey has finished building his fog machine and is ready for tonight's performance.

26 May 1978


26 May 1978

After the show, the company throws a 21st Birthday Party for Calvin in The 269 rehearsal rooms.

late May 1978

Gail Crowley is ill and Leigh Jayne steps in for a performance of Toni Wilson's He's My Man.

early June 1978

Dave Lamb arrives for Saturday night performance with laringytis. Dave's understudy, Rod, is put into a panic. Prior to curtain, Dave admits he was joking.... and the show goes on!

1 June 1978

Frontier Times, "THAT'S THE WAY IT IS"

1 June 1978

The Australian, "IN AT THE DEEP END"

6 June 1978

Heavy negotiations are underway on the extended season proposed. All cast and crew are given the option. Calvin and Rod receive notes from supporters and detractors in the company. The whole thing could collapse. Houses are poor and Dineil's 50% gross returns have not been reached. Gail Crowley leaves to be replaced by Sheridan Jobbins. Brian Clarke leaves to be replaced by Annabelle Sheehan (violin).

9 June 1978

The performance is videotaped by students from AFTRS. Denise Keniry directs the student cameramen. Colin also records the performance on 1/2" tape. Paul Velkou is sick so Kym Newman performs One Eyed Marijuana.

10 June 1978

End of the six week season at The 269. A four week extension commences. Diniel's returns to date are reinvested in the show, to cover theatre rent, stage, lights and sound hire, etc... for the extra four weeks.

12 June 1978

Daily Telegraph Green Guide, "THE RIGHT GIRL BUT THE WRONG THEATRE" - article about Anna.

12 June 1978

Current Affair interview with Paul Makin is aired. Mike Willesee sums up the story saying, "some youth trying to do the right thing!!"

23 June 1978

Daily Mirror, "AND HER GHOST MAY BE HEARD" - story about theatre ghost, Ursula with photo of Stephe Churm.

26 June 1978

The Sun, "ROCK MUSICAL CITY-BOUND" article about Penrith's Q Theatre production heading to the city, the 2nd musical recently to do so, TTWII! being the first!

7 July 1978


Saturday 8 July 1978

The final performance. Colin tapes the raging last night performance on 1/2" tape. A full house and the hint of LSD in the air. When the show finishes, the theatre is stripped of its seating and an all night rage ensues.

mid July 1978

The final figures for the 10 week season show that the season cost $18,000 to stage. Calvin and Rod are left with a bill of $4,500 which is paid off over the next three years.

September 1978

Dolly Magazine, "SO, THAT'S THE WAY IT IS" article featuring photos of Rod, Calvin, Sheridan Jobbins, Rod Starr, Leigh Jayne Welsh and Colin Berkinshaw - great article only four months too late!

5 October 1978

People Magazine, "INDEPENDENCE - LOOK OUT TIM RICE AND ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER...." - Ha! Funny article!!

6 October 1978

Ken is painting Ingrid Berg's office when she learns one of her clients has passed away. Johnny O'Keefe dies of heart failure, aged 43.

8 December 1980

John Lennon is shot dead, three years to the day from when That's The Way It Is! opened at Newtown Rules Club.

8 December 1982

5 Year Reunion is held at Newtown Rules Club with guest comics Saturday Brander, Jock Allen, George Smilovici, Ric Carter, Calvin DeGrey and Ciao Rudy playing.

8 December 1987

10 Year Reunion is held at Paddington Green Hotel. Archival videos of the show are screened.

8 December 1997

20 Year Reunion Dinner is held at Rod's house in Stanmore.

Sunday 8 December 2002

25 Year Reunion is to be held at the Kings Head Tavern function room at South Hurstville.

  the 1977 company | the 1977 songlist | the 1978 company | the 1978 songlist | photo gallery | publicity archive | archival music

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