Back in 1964, a small group of people voiced the need for a musical comedy group in Wollongong. As their enthusiasm grew, a name for the Group was needed. Founder member Dallas Blake perceived the idea of Arcadian, pertaining to “Arcadia” (L.Arcadius), a place of happiness. Thus the ARCADIANS was born and our first production – The Boyfriend was staged in June, 1964.
The early days of the Group saw properties housed in garages and rehearsals conducted at a variety of venues. In March 1979, the Group was at last able to rehearse in its own hall, on land in Tarrawanna donated by BHP and subsequently purchased by the Group.
This was our home until 30 May, 1997 when we purchased the Corrimal Community Hall and Library complex, with the aim of developing it into a state-of-art theatre, giving us the unique position amongst other amateur theatre groups of owning a performance space, building a new home of our own, and becoming an integral part of the cultural environment of Wollongong’s northern suburbs.
In February 1997, we were listed on the National Cultural Register, enabling corporations and members of the general public to receive tax exemptions for their donations to the Group.
Over the years, the Arcadians Theatre Group has been a proud and active contributor to life in the Illawarra. Our Group was instrumental in the development of the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and in 1993 we celebrated 30 years of entertaining the people of the Illawarra with the biggest grossing non-metropolitan season of Les Miserables. 20 years later we celebrated our 50th anniversary by staging the Illawarra premiere of The Phantom of the Opera. This successful sell out season was highly acclaimed has and galvanized the Group to continue to bring excellent theatre to the Illawarra.
Many charities and groups in the area have benefited from donations raised by our members, and we continue to provide opportunities for performers, musicians and technical crew to practice and enjoy their craft. Some of our members have gone on to highly successful theatrical careers – most notably Australia’s original Phantom of the Opera, Anthony Warlow.
Performing in a range of venues, with a membership of around 200 – 250 made up of general members, The Arcadians Children’s Theatre, the Arcadians Minstrels and the Arcadians Lamplighters Male Voice Choir, we plan to continue the Arcadians tradition well into the 21st century.