Gladys Moncrief
- Memories

Our Glad — The Opening of the Athenium Theatre, Junee

Gladys Moncrief
Gladys Moncrief OBE — Australia’s Queen of Song
People were turned away from the Dress Circle as a crowded Athenium theatre waited for the curtain to go up for the first time on Thursday evening of the 10th October 1929.

Messrs J.E. Hoad MLA; K. Hoad MLA, and Mr Patrick Cummins, owner and builder of the fine brick building, prevailed on stage; with Mr K. Hoad declaring the Theatre open, and commending the enterprise of the Commens family in erecting such a fine edifice –- a credit to Junee.

The management of the Theatre was under the name of Laurentus & Cummins, the latter the son of the builder, the eldest businessman in Junee and the wealthiest resident.

Less than two months later the “Queen of Australian Stage” Miss Gladys Moncrieff with her supporting staff of 90 players, performed at the Athenium Theatre in John Fuller’s “Rio Rita” on 3 December 1929. This was Miss Moncrieff’s first production since arriving home from overseas; and it was presented at Junee on the same scale as in Sydney and leading metropolitan theatres in Australia.

“The ‘frockery’ was beautiful and the splendid lighting effects helped to make each scene more beautiful and brilliant.”

Miss Moncrieff received an enthusiastic and spontaneous reception when she entered the stage, later singing the “River Song”. Australian Fred Moore as “Captain Jim” played opposite Miss Moncrieff. In addition to possessing a delightful singing voice, Mr Moore was a fine actor.

Meanwhile, Railway officials were kept on their toes. Arrangements were made to run trains at special concession fares to Junee to accommodate as many theatre goers as possible. A special train was arranged from Wagga, and passengers from “The Rock” and intermediate stations travelled by the “Albury Mail”, returning from Junee at 11.10pm. The South West Mail conveyed passengers from Ganmain and district at special rates, returning from Junee at 11.30pm.