WHEN visitors come to Noosa, they often ask the question: "How do you make a living in this place?"
But locals know that it's not so much about making a living, as about creating a life here.
Former restaurateur, bookkeeper and current Noosa Arts star and Jally productions thespian Carly Partridge has done just that.
After a move from Sydney to Noosa with her husband 30 years ago, the vibrant young woman carved a career as a waitress at some of Noosa's finest restaurants including Angels and the unforgettable Annabelle's in Hastings St.
With her husband she went on to set up her own restaurant Claytons, then changed to administration work and finally found her place on stage, gaining herself a reputation as one of Noosa's best known thespians.
It all sounds like a dream, but like most stories, dig a bit deeper and you will find that this naturally optimistic person has tackled and overcome serious setbacks in her life.
In the mid 90s, just before her 40th birthday, Carly's life was pushed into another direction after she broke her back in a Jet Ski accident.
It was long haul back to health, but when she was finally up to it, she took up a position as bookkeeper/receptionist for Julie Carrington at Carrington's hair and jewellery studio at Noosa Junction.
Gradually she felt up to doing more on her feet and took up tap dancing with the erstwhile Gloria Gray dance studios.
Known to students as Miss Gloria, she was renowned for her fabulous costumes and stage presentations. It was a great fit for Carly.
"I couldn't believe it," Carly recalled
"In my first show I was told I was doing a solo song and dance routine."
It worked out well and Carly discovered she had a natural talent.
But in 2000 she needed her strength to face another challenge, after an osteoporosis test led to an unexpected bone cancer diagnosis.
"But I'm over that now," Carly said.
And the illness certainly didn't quell her vivacious spirit. In 2006 Carly began her theatre career with roles in Cabaret, Mack & Mabel, That's Entertainment, The Full Monty, The Producers, Dimboola, Harry Potter, La Ronde and Ladies Night.
Three months of the year Carly also tours professionally with Jally Entertainment doing children's interactive theatre. She has performed with Jally Entertainment at the Fringe Festival at Adelaide last year with Snow White and the 7 Cool Dudes and this year with Aladdin and his Magic Ipod.
Carly retains special memories of every role she has played and the audiences have special memories of Carly.
Last year's Noosa Arts production of Cabaret proved fortuitous for Carly. It was where she met Noosa Longweekend director, theatre scriptwriter and actor Ian Mackellar.
"The two of them brought the house down with their song in Cabaret If you Could see her Through my Eyes," recalls fellow Noosa Arts actor John Woodlock.
But for those who know Carly, and especially for Carly herself, there is a quiet irony of her role as a mute in the upcoming play Fantasticks.
Indeed it's rather extraordinary for the woman with the big personality, who likes to talk, to dress up and be on stage,
"No speaking, no singing and no sound at all is a huge challenge for me," she said.
"I think the director Ian Mackellar is enjoying this immensely."
Cut-price preview: September 20 at 7.30pm. Evenings: September 21, 22, 28, 29, October 4, 5, 6 at 7.30pm . Matinees: Sundays September 23 and 30 at 2pm
Charity Fundraising night for Katie Rose Cottage: September 27 at 7.30pm Ticket Prices:
Cut-price Preview - all tickets $20; Adults $30; Concessions $26, Members and Groups $24, Children* (7 to 16) $20.
Charity Fundraising night - all tickets $35, includes a light supper at interval
Bookings: Phone sales: 5449 9343, Monday to Saturday, 9am to noon.