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August 12, 2003

That deaf, dumb and blind kid is one mean survivor

From: Sydney Morning Herald, Australia - Aug 12, 2003

By Tim Dick
August 12, 2003

Nine-year-old Bethany Goodlet has learnt the hard way that showbiz is not always easy.

Her chance to shine in a new version of the 1960s rock opera Tommy was thwarted in June when the show's venue fell through. The Penrith Panthers' Evan Theatre cancelled the show's season following a fire and scheduling clash with a boxing match.

"I was very upset, because we'd been practising for six months and it was very upsetting to let all that go," she said. "I went up to my room and started to cry."

The show's director, David Hollywood, said: "During that time the kids were really emotional and unable to sleep. We were at the final dress rehearsal when it got canned."

Now the show has been rescued, with not one but two new venues.

Tommy will open on August 21 at the Springwood Civic Centre in the Blue Mountains, before moving to Parramatta's Riverside Theatre a fortnight later.

Other people are also pitching in, offering to help with banners and flyers, and moving props. "People came from everywhere offering all kinds of support," Mr Hollywood said.

The show's producers, the theatre group Out of the Blue, funds itself through ticket sales and sponsorship. Mr Hollywood said it did not qualify for any government support because "we're not marginalised enough".

"It's just an amazing thing that we've lasted for five years. If we can get through this season of Tommy and still be standing, I'll be jumping up and down."

Mr Hollywood said the musical, which tackles issues such as child abuse and bullying, was "full on".

For her role, Goodlet had to cut her hair to look like the four-year-old Tommy she plays, and has had to keep it short for longer than she first thought. "But my teacher told all my friends that they weren't allowed to tease me," she said.

With the bad comes the good, and the extended rehearsal period has meant she is now "really good" at delivering her line: "Happy Birthday Mum." Next week, she'll deliver it for real - at last - to an opening crowd that includes her own mother and father.

Copyright © 2003. The Sydney Morning Herald.