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School brings Lennie legend to life

 

THE story of a young boy and his horse accomplishing a phenomenal feat touched Australians in 1932.

Last Tuesday and Thursday, the same story moved South Gippslanders again when Leongatha Primary School performed the musical production, Lennie The Legend: 600 Miles to Sydney in Leongatha’s Mesley Hall.

Written by Roz Girvan and Janie Humphreys from Clifton Hill Primary School, the play told the tale of Lennie Gwyther, who aged nine, rode his pony Ginger Mick to Sydney from Leongatha – 1000km over 33 days – to witness the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Among those impressed by the recollection of the now famous story was Beryl Ferrier, sister of the late Lennie, who travelled from Tugun, Queensland for the show.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” she said of the production.

“It was expertly choreographed, and an absolute credit to the children and the teachers who produced it.”

Ms Ferrier recalled with a hint of sentimentality the moment Leongatha student Piper Goldsmith, who played her mother Clara in the show, approached her.

“I said ‘Hello Mum’,” Ms Ferrier quipped.

“And I kissed the children who played Lennie and said ‘Goodnight brother’.

“It was ethereal. It was like looking at a ghost. I cannot bring myself to the fact that is my brother is being portrayed. I cannot thank Leongatha Primary School enough for what they have done for the family.”

The production was also attended by Lennie’s other sister Leta Gardenal of Cranbourne, his daughter Mary Gwyther of Emerald and niece Julie Campbell of Mardan.

Ms Gwyther said of the show, “I’m absolutely amazed and so grateful the children played the parts. I think my father would be amazed that such a fuss was being made because he rarely thought about the journey when he was alive.”

The show was engaging and upbeat, with catchy music, and involved children of many ages. Narrator Thomas Burt set the scene with his captivating tone and smooth delivery.

Teacher Jess Stein, who coordinated the production, was thrilled with the show.

“The enthusiasm from the students is hard to describe, from the lead roles down to the youngest Prep. Students are buzzing and have a real sense of accomplishment and pride in their achievement.  It was a relatively quick process from beginning of rehearsal to show’s end but worth every second,” she said.
“The staff have been amazing, just rallying together and making it happen. It’s very easy for me to receive the accolades because I am responsible for the finished product, the singing, acting, dancing. However I can’ make that happen without an army behind me, organising students, moving props, braiding hair, painting faces and building picket fences.”

Mrs Stein said the tale of Lennie taught students about local and national history.

“The links the children made between Lennie, their parents or grandparents in particular who knew of Lennie and the excitement of having Beryl at the show was fabulous,” she said.

Mr Gwyther died in 1993, aged 70.

Lead role: Ashley Geary was one of several actors to perform impressively as Lennie Gwyther.

Lead role: Ashley Geary was one of several actors to perform impressively as Lennie Gwyther.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=19869

Posted by on Oct 25 2016. Filed under Arts & Entertainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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