For 40 years, a remote South Australian town has been brought to life with the local vaudeville troupe. 

But with most members of the Whyte Yarcowie Vaudeville Troupe pushing 80, the group will perform its final show next month.

“It will be pretty sad because you know, 40 years is a long time … it’s half my life,” founder of the troupe, Judy Lewis said.

“I’m 80 now, and I’m gorgeous for 80.”

The  Whyte Yarcowie Vaudeville Troupe has travelled the state to perform.(Supplied: Whyte Yarcowie Vaudeville Troupe)

Some of the group’s members have changed over the years, but others have remained for the full 40 years, including Pam Staker, who makes the costumes.

“There’s a few [members] that have gone on to perform in the sky.  We’ve lost a few, a couple of pianists. We’ve lost our lighting man,” she said.

“We’ve carried on, and the kids grew up, and they thought the troupe would finish when the kids grew up.

“They can sing, dance, perform and do comedy. They’re very self-sufficient blokes.”

Ms Lewis’ son Ben Lewis, 42, had his first performance in the vaudeville troupe at age three.

“I was terrified of it,” Mr Lewis said.

“But in terms of the colour, and all of a sudden when it wasn’t just rehearsal, that was fun.”

As a young man, Mr Lewis was involved in comedy and skits between the dancing performances from the troupe. He remained a member until age 16.

Judy Lewis performing on stage in the  Whyte Yarcowie Vaudeville Troupe.(Supplied: Whyte Yarcowie Vaudeville Troupe)

He said there was not a place in regional South Australia where the troupe did not perform.

“It’s been to some of the craziest places, from a street opening when it’s been resurfaced, to old halls, to basketball stadiums where they’ve built a stage out of pallets, old shearing sheds,” Mr Lewis said.

Now an artist himself, Mr Lewis said the troupe helped him gain people skills.

“It crossed a lot of eras, living out there alone where we had a manual switch phone to vaudeville,” he said.

“It’s crazy … I don’t really know a world without Mum doing the vaudeville troupe.”

Mr Lewis will travel from Queenstown in Tasmania to Jamestown for the final performance in mid-April.

How it all started

Ms Lewis said in 1984, the postmistress was organising an event for Heritage Week in nearby Terowie and asked her to put together a musical performance.

“So my kids and Pam and John Staker, farmers here in Whyte Yarcowie, and their kids, we put on a musical show for them,” she said.

Beautiful costumes, old music and a lot of laughter is the secret to the group’s success.(Supplied: Whyte Yarcowie Vaudeville Troupe)

“After that, we were asked to perform somewhere else and somewhere else, and it got bigger and better …  and it’s gone on for 40 years.”

Ms Lewis said the secret to the group’s success had been the beautiful costumes, old music, and making people laugh.

“We did a lot of comedy and laughter is the best medicine,” she said.

“Come on, and you make people laugh, and they love it.”

The final variety show will happen at Jamestown Memorial Hall on April 13 and 14.