Talented and creative theatrical director, John Hunt who died on October 19 at the age of 78, was farewelled by family and friends at a service last Thursday (October 29).
John played a major part in both the amateur theatrical company The Castle Hill Players, and in the performance group Radio Active Live and was respected widely as a guiding light in theatre. He also founded and ran The Hills Music Box shop in Stockland Mall in the 1980s.
John joined the fledgling Castle Hill Players in 1962 and was the group’s Treasurer when members lobbied the then Baulkham Hills Council for a venue to perform their plays.
John, always a passionate and articulate speaker, helped convince the Council that the Players were worth supporting, and the Taylor Pavilion which had housed prized chickens on Castle Hill Show Day, was allocated for the use of the Players and 1966, the Pavilion Theatre was born.
John’s first production was “Love’s a Luxury” in 1964, in the old Anzac Hall. It would be the first of 27 plays and revues he produced over the following 47 years for the Castle Hill Players.
John’s contribution to community theatre cannot be underestimated. It was not only his artistic achievements, but also his contribution to administrative roles as President, Treasurer and committee member within theatre organisations that led him to be honoured with Life Membership of the Pavilion Theatre along with community awards for his contribution and commitment to community theatre. John encouraged the Castle Hill Players to produce a season brochure advertising the plays for the whole year in advance.
This resulted in forward bookings by individuals and local community groups and established the Pavilion Theatre as a destination for a great night out. It also gave schools and charitable groups the chance to raise much needed funds. John’s greatest delight was to see an appreciative audience enjoying the best that theatre could offer.
John often quoted the line from the Wizard of Oz, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” and that typified John. He was humble, compassionate and caring. His last production for the Pavilion Theatre was “Bombshells” in 2011.
Around that time, fellow member Mary Dennison came up with the idea of doing radio plays. A group of actors along with John, all of whom had been involved in the Pavilion Theatre over the years, got together to start the group Radio Active Live.
In 2013 performances began in the Ball Room of the Hills Lodge staging four productions a year. Again, so much of Radio Active Live’s entertainment success was due to John’s selection of plays and his excellent theatrical eye, getting the best out of the play and his actors.
This year was to be Radio Active Live’s eighth year of shows, but COVID 19 halted production.
With John’s passing, the Radio Active Live team are committed to continuing his legacy of excellent radio play productions, as COVID restrictions ease.
In his last days, John acknowledged he had a great life, good partners, two beautiful caring daughters and a wonderful network of friends.
~ by Helen Everingham