Coffs? own Kath and Ken
By BELINDA SCOTT
SPEND an hour with Kath and Ken Morley and you're sure to come away chuckling. Because this couple, who have both been singers since they were children, can't help being entertaining. And their generosity has meant that their pleasure in music, come- dy and theatre is spread throughout the Coffs Coast and enjoyed by some of those with least to enjoy in their lives. Keyboard player, music teacher, arranger and singer Kath and her singing spouse Ken, with his impeccable comic timing and stagecraft, with fellow musician Juanita Hunt, make up the profession- al variety musical group the Metro-gnomes, playing for weddings, dances, theme parties and functions. The trio is also about to cut its first CD. But as members of the 14- member group the Harbour Light Entertainers; as them- selves and even through the
Metro-gnomes, the couple take music to nursing homes and hospitals, public halls and community events on a volun- tary basis, giving pleasure and raising funds for dozens of different organisations with their songs and musical come- dy routines. The Harbour Lights, as they are generally called, ar- range, produce and perform full variety show programs of songs, musical routines and comedy sketches, using mini- mal scenery and props, but up to four changes of cos- tume. The group of 14 friends, which includes four married couples, sing, dance and clown their way around the district, enjoying the social side of their rehearsals and performances as much as the satisfaction of its fundraising successes. The group is a party on the hoof, Ken says 'none of us smoke and only some have a few beers, but we're addict- ed to singing and having fun'. Not content with that,
Kath and Ken also do front-of- house work at the Jetty Theatre for the CHATS theatre group and the Musical Comedy Company and Kath is regularly snaffled by groups wanting a musical director for a theatre production or an event like Carols by Candle- light, while Ken's tenor voice is in demand for shows. They barely have time to catch their breath between engagements and have recent- ly had to close their charity performance books for 2005, having run out of available dates. From now until Christmas, they are booked for 17 charity and community events, a pro- gram which will see them performing one or two shows every weekend. The pace will quicken as Christmas approaches, rising to three shows a day during November weekends when they add the Upper Orara Melodrama to their schedule. The couple are currently rehearsing the melodrama, where Kath is the musical di-
rector and Ken is in the cast, driving about 100km a week to at- tend rehearsals for the show, which raises funds for the small Upper Orara Public School.
They have played for hostels, retirement centres and nursing homes, Legacy bowls days; senior citizens social groups, Lions Club Bonville Seniors Citizens Christ- mas luncheon, Walcha's Relay for Life; Manchester Unity's Centena- ry; RSL sub-branch functions; An- zac Day and Remembrance Day services; Coffs Harbour's Carols by Candlelight; fundraisers for community halls; the order of the Eastern Star; Diabetic Association; Sawtell Art Group; Camp Quality; the National Servicemen's Associa- tion dinner . . . the list goes on and on. Such voluntary work (the Har- bour Lights recently calculated their combined rehearsal and per- formance hours equalled one per- son's full-time job for more than six months annually) is not with- out considerable cost in monetary terms as well as in the generous contribution of time and talent.