by Kathy Dumbleton
The recent one-night sellout success of Broadway and Beyond was more than just an amazing tribute showcasing Broadway musicals performed by wonderful local talent. It was an event held in the honour of a very special member of Rockhampton’s theatre family, Sue Earle.
Sue has been a long-term member of the Rockhampton theatre industry, working behind the scenes in costume design.
Shortly after working on this year's production of We Will Rock You, Sue was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.
"Everyone loves Sue," says Broadway and Beyond organiser and performer Rhonda Janes.
"We call her the ‘vision’; she has this magic ability to see how the stage should look in her head."
When Rhonda heard the news of Sue's diagnosis, all she wanted to do was help. She put out a call to her theatre friends to arrange a show, and 26 singers and four dancers volunteered their time to be part of the sell-out show.
The night featured standout performances including a beautiful solo guitar performance of Somewhere over the Rainbow by Justin Stewart, Rhonda Janes’ vocal rendition of Send in the Clowns accompanied by Elizabeth Clarke in a contemporary dance number, and an unforgettable event closer with the Greatest Showman hit This is Me met with a standing ovation from a delighted audience.
This event was a performance with a deeper meaning for all involved.
"Sue has this amazing, beautiful, gentle nature," Rhonda says. "She will be the first to arrive
at the theatre, and the last to leave."
The show was put together in a matter of months with only six rehearsals before opening night. 360 tickets were allocated and the show sold out in record time.
The effort of all performers involved, with some travelling interstate to donate their time, speaks volumes about the way Sue has touched each of their lives.
"You build strong relationships in the theatre when you are working with people for eight to 10 weeks on a show," Rhonda said. "You share experiences and develop lifelong friendships."
While it wasn't advertised as a fundraiser to help with Sue’s illness, a significant amount was raised to assist with her treatment.
"We are a very close-knit community, and this is our way of saying thank you and get well soon," Rhonda said.