Home' In The City : Summer Contents Coralie Wood at Vivaldi's
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"Of course there was nothing else on
then. People use to come in droves, drink
driving wasn't in, they'd get putrid and
then they would have to come next week
to see what had actually happened in the
Things have changed a lot since the
late 70s and early 80s but Coralie Wood
OAM, one of Canberra's most well
known theatre identities, has remained a
perennial force in the industry over four
With a bulbous shock of red hair
and her famous eyelashes, she has
schmoozed with some of Australia's most
And over the years she's gathered a
vast collection of stories, which include
world-renowned comedians, famous
prima donnas and New Jersey rock stars,
all of whom have brushed shoulders with
Ms Wood at some stage.
From Sir Les Patterson and Hugh
Jackman to Cliff Richard and Rowan
Atkinson, the list of celebrity encounters
for the self-made publicist is extensive.
"When I first met [the band] Dr Hook,
one had an eye patch with a glass eye
and he got off the plane and said, 'Got
any coke babe?' And I said, 'Yeah. I'll get
"So he got into the car, 'Where's the
"I said, 'Six cans down there, what do
you want?' Well he nearly died. He took
his eye out and winked at me.''
Another tale she tells is of American
singer and actor Shirley MacLaine, who
in the late 1970s was embroiled in a well-
publicised affair with, coincidently, the
then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrew
"Shirley MacLaine was quite difficult,''
Ms Wood recalls.
"Each show has what you call a rider.
It's what they want. She wanted in her
dressing room six hard-boiled eggs and
six normal eggs. She also wanted in her
bedroom all these noises like bird noises
and fish noises and tinkling water."
And despite arriving in July, at the
height of winter, she demanded a hotel
where the windows were open.
"The tour manager, who was American,
said, 'I hope you've got the windows
open.' I said, 'Well it's the fourth of July,
how ridiculous.' He said, 'You better have
them open because she'll either throw a
chair through the window or....' And he
pulled out the window glass cutters and
said, 'or I cut the glass.'
So I rang up the hotel and said, 'For
God's sake open up those windows'."
After a ticker tape parade of
indulgent requests from Mr Peacock
and Ms MacLaine resulting in eating at
restaurants after midnight, causing grief
at two hotels into the early hours and
forcing the cancellation of a major press
conference she eventually took to the
stage the next night.
But that wasn't the end of it. Following
the show Ms MacLaine's rider stated she
must be taken to the high rollers room.
"In walks Peacock and he said, 'She's
not going'. And I thought, 'Oh I've had
you Andrew'. So I got myself up and I
stuck my big fat fingernail into him and
said, 'Yes she is, it's in the contract and
she's going.' And he said, 'Alright Coralie,
alright'. "Anyway she went along and they
were all Chinese high rollers and didn't
take any notice of her whatsoever."
But Ms Wood does concede, "She was
fabulous on stage. I mean you've got to
give her that."
Quite apart from her celebrity
babysitting, Ms Wood and her colleagues
have shaped the direction of theatre in
And in the 90s she established the CAT
(Canberra Area Theatre) Awards with
The awards recognises amateur talent
across the region.
"Now it is 15 years later and I've got
over 50 companies. I've just come back
from Albury actually, they've just joined,
and we saw a fabulous show.''
Her precipitous passion has spread
through the entertainment industry and
while she has spent much of her time
cavorting with the stars and escaping into
the world of performing arts, Ms Wood
likes to keep her feet on the ground.
"I love seeing it all come together and
just sitting there,'' she says.
"I love musicals best of all. It is just
fantasy I suppose. Then I go home and
wash the dishes."
"I love musicals
best of all. It is just
fantasy I suppose.
Then I go home
and wash the
actresses to wild
Coke, Coralie Wood
has rubbed shoulders
with the best of them.
BY MARK SAWA
Photographer: Holly Treadaway
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