"Well written and researched, Sally also directed and performed in the production which included new and more experienced actors giving a nice balance to the play ... performed at Mt Martha House, once again an ideal venue for a small cast in an intimate setting."
- Andrea Ford, Stage Whispers
'Till The Boys Come Home began life as a theatrical play, written and directed by Sally McLean, produced by Incognita Enterprises under the title of P.S. I Love You and performed to sold out houses in 2004.
The play was performed at Mt Martha House - the perfect venue for the performances, due to it's association with the military during and beyond WWII. The venue was appropriated by the military in 1940, and served as a barracks for the RAAF and an R&R venue for American Servicemen until 1945. The military purchased the building in 1950 and during it's last years of service to the Australian military, it served as a WRAAC barracks (Women's Royal Australian Army Corps.).
Due to generous local sponsorship, the play was fully staged and performed using original uniforms, furnishings and props and a full display in the foyer of the venue was created showcasing 1942 with music, newsreels, photos, individual stories, ephemera and memorabilia from the time, to set the scene for the audience before the play commenced.
This was so well received that the display remained at Mt Martha House for the general public as a semi-permanent display about Melbourne during the War after the performances, with several school groups visiting to hear talks from Sally McLean about this period of history, illustrated by the various items collected during her research.
"A very satisfying evening with emphasis on authenticity with costumes, furnishings and radios ... A very successful evening with a great audience appreciation."
- Peter Kemp, Stage Whispers
The original cast were made up of actors who had studied with Sally McLean at her acting studio, based on the Mornington Peninsula. The cast list was as follows:
Alesha Bellairs as "Mary"
Debra Byrne as "Anne"
Jane Forsyth as "Katherine"
Lorna Lowe as "Margot"
Sally McLean as "Elsie"
Frank Maloney as "Andrew"
Harry Paternoster as "Frank"
Kadar Pavdel as "Bir Bahadur Thapa"
Kathleen Ronchi as "Emily"
Jodie Spencer as "Janet"
Special Guest Artist, Alan Fletcher as the voice of "John Curtin/ABC Radio Announcer"
Director/Writer/Producer: Sally McLean
Stage Manager: Julian Duggan
Lighting Designer/Operator: Paul Hawthorne
Front of House Manager: Marg Woodlock-McLean
Various local businesses supported the production through sponsorship, including providing tea and cakes after each performance for the audience to mingle and chat with the cast and crew.
These were the businesses who made this initial production possible:
Production Partners: Mt Martha House, Mt Martha Community Contact Inc., Paul G. & Jan Hawthorne Lighting and Emjay Projects
Major Programme Sponsors: Alexander Technique Bayside, Ranch Motel and Toms Party Food
Standard Programme Sponsors: Alpha Computers, Beachside Photos & Cameras, Big Chair, Mr Browns Nursery, D & R Paper Distributors Pty Ltd, Dominion Hill, Farrell's Bookshop, The Framer's Workshop, Gluten Free Foods, M.K. Duck & Co., Mornington Antique Centre, Mornington Disposals, Mt Martha Newsagency & Tattersalls, Mt Martha Travel, Nepean Music, Peninsula Herbal Dispensary and Sailaway Music
The production also attracted a fair amount of press attention, with articles appearing in The Age, The Mornington Leader, The Peninsula Journal, The Mornington Mail, Stage Whispers and The Herald Sun, among others. Sally McLean also did numerous radio interviews, the most notable being ABC Radio 774 with Derek Guille, ABC News Radio with Phil Kafcaloudes and 3RPP-FM with Diana Whaley.
The run was so popular that there was a waiting list for audience, but sadly budgets and time would not allow an extension of the run to accommodate all the interest.
Fast forward to 2017. The work is being adapted and expanded into a TV series, being produced by Incognita Enterprises under the title 'Till The Boys Come Home with an expanded local and international cast and an expected release date of early 2019.