kingThe Therry Dramatic Society Inc was founded on 8 September 1943 by George Duke Walton (1906-1961), a graduate of Newman College, Melbourne.  With the encouragement of Archbishop Matthew Beovich, Therry’s first meeting was held in the Diocesan Catholic Education Building (now Fennescey House) at 33 Wakefield Street, Adelaide with the assistance of Monsignor (then father) Isodore Redden, the administrator of the Cathedral of St Francis Xavier.

One of the most commonly asked questions about Therry remains ‘Where did the name “Therry” come from?’   More about that later.

The first major production – J.M. Barrie’s Quality Street – was performed on 2 August 1944.   This was the forerunner of nearly 300 productions which the Society has produced since that time.  Since 1978, the Society has produced a musical and three plays each year.  Touring productions of The Way of the Cross, an excerpt from Henri Gheon’s passion play The Mystery of the Finding of the True Cross, were produced annually during Lent until 1991, since when it has been produced in alternative (non-Festival) years.

A schools drama festival was introduced in 1962 to encourage drama in Catholic schools.  This gave many secondary students their first opportunity for on-stage and back-stage work and encouraged many to become actively involved with Therry after leaving school; a rich young resource for the Society.  Seven of these students eventually became presidents of the Society, with others serving as council members.

Many prominent Australia actors and stage technicians began their careers through their association with Therry: Denis Olsen, Julie Hamilton, Don Barker, Kate Fitzpatrick, Brian Wenzel, Michael Scheid, Damon Herriman, Michael Habib, Brian Mooney and Hugh Sheridan et al.  

In the mid-1980s, Kirsti (Bradtke) Harms performed her first two starring roles with Therry: as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Guinevere in Camelot.  Kirstie remembers those productions most fondly.  Robert Stigwood was a member in the 1950s before leaving for London.  Tom Georgeson, a familiar face on many BBC television series, worked with Therry in the 1970s.   Dianne McLean is a professional stage manager in London’s West End.  Paul McKay works professionally in the entertainment industry in the UK and Europe and Dennis McKay and Theo Benton have also made their careers in Australian theatre and/or television.

Until 1984, the Society leased and rehearsal space next to the Cathedral in Wakefield Street.  From then until mid-2010, St Mary’s Church at Beulah Road Norwood, has been the Society’s home.  Therry now has its own premises (or, rather, is in the process of purchasing them) at Unit 2, 1 Regina Court, Beverley.  It is there that props, sets and costumes are stored, productions are auditioned and rehearsed, sets are built, costumes made and members meet.   

The regular Tuesday evening get-togethers at the clubrooms have ensured the Society’s strong support continues; life-long friendships have formed through a common interest in theatre in general.  Unlike many other hobbies, it’s an interest which involves people from all ages and walks of life.  One doesn’t have to be physically fit, or possess any special talent, to contribute.  Each production presents its own challenges and helpers can devote as many or as few hours as their own schedules allow.

Various performance venues have been used over the past 62 years: the Royalty Theatre (formerly Australia Hall); the now-demolished Willard Hall in Wakefield Street; The Studio (now NWS9) in North Adelaide; and currently at the Arts Theatre in Angas Street.

Therry’s loyal subscribers number more than 1800.  

Now, about the name … ‘Therry’ originates from Australia’s first Catholic priest, John Joseph Therry, who was born in County Cork in 1790 and ordained in 1815.  It’s worth noting a little about Father Therry; he was an interesting character.  Volunteering to go to the colonies to minister to the convicts, Father Therry, together with Father Conolly, arrived at Botany Bay in May 1820 as the first Catholic chaplains to New South Wales.  When Father Conolly immediately left for Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), he left Father Therry, then 30, with a parish comprising the whole of the 32-year-old colony.  Father Therry traveled the country on horseback, caring for settlers and convicts alike.  It was not unknown for him to say Mass in Sydney and then travel on horseback (and fasting) to Parramatta for a second Mass that day, regardless of the weather.

Father Therry fought for justice and better conditions for the convicts, women, children, and Aboriginals and for the education of the poor.  As was often the case during those times, this did not always endear him to the authorities.  He encouraged Caroline Chisholm in her work and built schools for the poor wherever possible.  He would endeavour to be with convicts at their executions.  On one occasion, he traveled 300 kilometres in three days to be with one man; the last 80 kilometres on foot as his horse was lame.

Father Therry was a poet, a musician, a writer and a mystic – a man of action and a man of prayer.  His impetuosity often landed him in trouble, but his genuine care and love of people was acknowledged and appreciated.  He was honoured with the title ‘archpriest’ in 1858 in recognition of his work with and dedication to the people of Australia.  He died in 1884 and is buried in the crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.

During his visit to Australia in 1986, the Holy Father Pope John Paul II knelt at the grave of Archpriest John Joseph Therry in respect for this wonderful man who devoted his life to his church.

The Therry Dramatic Society is proud to bear the name of this holy and dedicated priest, a name chosen by George Walton when he first founded a dramatic society in Melbourne in the late 1930s.  After commencing a similar society here in Adelaide in 1943, he went on to Perth and established a third branch there.   Since the mid-1950s, Adelaide’s branch has been the sole ‘Therry Society’.

George Walton was another remarkable character.  According to reports, he was full of fun and the joy of living and had that rare and indefinable quality of being able to influence and enthuse those with whom he came in contact (a bit like Claire Leahy, Therry’s longstanding council member and current Vice-President who has been a member for 60 continuous years).

In his book Fifty Years of Therry, author Bernard Moriarty (late husband of recently retiredTicket Secretary, Joan) devoted a chapter to George Walton.  For those who have a copy on their bookshelves, it’s worth a read.   It notes George’s attendance at meetings until at least 1950.   

In its eighth decade, Adelaide’s Therry continues from strength to strength.

On Saturday, 15th September, all at Therry were delighted to be awarded the 2011-12 Adelaide Theatre Guide Curtain Call Award for Best Musical for its June 2011 production of Crazy For You.

Brady Lloyd, who played the role of Bobby, was pipped at the post for Best Performance (Male) and our November 2011 comedy, The Cemetery Club, just missed out on being award Best Comedy.

Our congratulations are extended to the entire production team:

              Therry President Jill Bartlett accepts the award

Jill Bartlett Therry President


David Sinclair

Musical Director

Mark DeLaine


Linda Williams

Set Designer

Craig Williams

Lighting Designer

Steve Tilling

Stage Manager

Patsy Thomas


Sandra Davis


Heather Jones and Jan Farr

Sound Designer

Tim Freedman (Allpro Audio)

and their supportive teams, not forgetting the cast of principals and chorus, the back-stage crew, the musicians, front-of-house helpers and everyone involved in this fantastic production.

David Linda Marj 

David, Linda and Mark on stage at the awards ceremony

As Therry President Jill Bartlett said in accepting the award, this was a particular honour because there were simply so many great musical productions in Adelaide last year.

In early 2012,Crazy For You, also won The Theatre Association of South Australia's Musi-CAL Award for 2011.

Breaker Morant won Best Show (Amateur) at the 2011 ACColade Awards (Adelaide Critics Circle), announced in December 2011.

The previous year, 2010, Therry won the Adelaide Critics Circle Award in the category of Amateur Group: Best Show for its June production of the murder mystery musical Curtains – an Australian premiere.



To the delight of everyone involved in the production, Therry won the Adelaide Critics Circle Award in the category of Amateur Group: Best Show for its June production of the murder mystery musical Curtains – an Australian premiere.

Congratulations to all involved in this show.  As President, Jill Bartlett, said in accepting the award in December 2010:

“There is something that we all have that is more valuable than money.  Everyone in this room has it; everyone in the world has it, all in equal measure.  It is time.  If you lose money, spend money, waste money, you can earn more, win more, inherit more – even steal more money.  But when you give your time, you cannot win more time, inherit more time, make more time or steal it from someone else."

Curtains was nominated as Best Show, Musical (Amateur) for the Adelaide Theatre Guide's 2010 Curtain Call Awards.

In addition, Sue Wylie (who played the role of Carmen Bernstein in Curtains) and Myfanwy May (Phoebe Firth in Therry’s March production of Haywire) were both nominated as Best Performer, together with Megan Humphries for Northern Light Theatre’s production of Spamalot.

Our heartfelt congratulations to all three ladies. 


There were shrieks of delight when it was announced that the award was won by the indomitable Myfanwy May.  Well done, Vannie.  You are a star!


Vannie with her award