Geraldton heroine Beryl Mills & her tale star on Queens Park Theatre stage

Headshot of Lisa Favazzo
Lisa FavazzoGeraldton Guardian
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Amy Fornum (centre) as Geraldton star of yesteryear Beryl Mills with castmates, Cal Silverstein, Morgan Cowling and Ruby Voss.
Camera IconAmy Fornum (centre) as Geraldton star of yesteryear Beryl Mills with castmates, Cal Silverstein, Morgan Cowling and Ruby Voss. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/The Geraldton Guardian, Lisa Favazzo

This weekend, Queens Park Theatre audiences will remember one rebellious teenager from a Walkaway farm more than 100 years after she first graced the pages of the Geraldton Guardian and made a splash on the world stage.

Creators of the much-anticipated Miss Westralia promise a witty peek into the past which acknowledges the grit and spirit of its muse, 1926 Miss Australia winner Beryl Mills, presenting her as much more than a “perfect wife”.

The musical theatre production offers contemporary insight into the ever-morphing expectations of women in Australian society.

I Love This PHoto from Westpix. IN THE MONTH OF JUNE, 1926, WESTERN AUSTRALIA'S BERYL MILLS IS PLUNGED INTO THE SPOTLIGHT AND INTO A SASH, WITH HER SELECTION AS THE FIRST MISS AUSTRALIA. THE 19-YEAR-OLD BEAUTY WAS BORN AND GREW UP ON A SHEEP STATION NEAR GERALDTON.,
Camera IconI Love This PHoto from Westpix. IN THE MONTH OF JUNE, 1926, WESTERN AUSTRALIA'S BERYL MILLS IS PLUNGED INTO THE SPOTLIGHT AND INTO A SASH, WITH HER SELECTION AS THE FIRST MISS AUSTRALIA. THE 19-YEAR-OLD BEAUTY WAS BORN AND GREW UP ON A SHEEP STATION NEAR GERALDTON., Credit: Unknown

Miss Westralia’s Sydney-based co-writer Madeline Clouston spent time in Geraldton researching the city while working on the script.

“(I was told) gossip moves fast and that there is a lovely sense of community,” she said.

Clouston said the lighthouse, the wind, and the humble local rag would feature in the show, with two out of three getting dedicated musical numbers.

We think that (Beryl Mills) being from Geraldton is what made her so special. Beryl’s go-getter attitude probably came from the fact she helped out with everything on the farm,

said Clouston.

Local outfit Euphorium Creative director Jody Quadrio said the organisation spent three years working with Western Sky Projects and the Queens Park Theatre to breathe life into the heroine and her tale.

“To see her story told now by professional stage actors on stage is an important moment for our community to celebrate our history and the important role women like Beryl play in it,” she said. “We should all be proud of Beryl and her contribution to the advancement of women in society.”

Geraldton Historical Society members will decorate the venue’s foyer with memorabilia.

Adorning the foyer will be posters by Geraldton Indigenous artist Nola Gregory from the Because of Her, We Can campaign, which reflects on the women of yesteryear who paved the way for the achievements of women today.

The Queens Park Theatre will host a red carpet event on Friday night — complete with prizes for the best-dressed guests — and a high tea matinee session the following day.

The show will tour the regions, visiting Merredin, Kalgoorlie- Boulder, Ravensthorpe, Narrogin, Harvey and Beverley in the weeks to come.

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