Queensland Theatre Company
Based on the Novel 'The Women In Black'
by Madeleine St John
'Ladies in Black' is a brand new premier musical created by The Queensland Theatre Company with playwright Carolyn Burns, Composer Tim Finn (yes, Tim of Split Enz (1984), Crowded House (1990 – 1991), Finn Brothers fame) and directed by Simon Phillips. Last night along with friends Michelle Boyd, Phil and Sante there was a great crowded house for the near end of the run before they ALL move to Melbourne to open the 2016 season down there. By the end I wanted to stand and cheer until the incredible charmer Bobby Fox quietened us down for a few words before we had a Q&A.
For those unfamiliar The Women in Black refer to the women who worked dressed in stylish black dresses in the big Departments Stores - Goode's in this case but drawn on parallels we all remember if we are old enough. I was unsure by certain elements at the beginning as I adjusted to their observations of Australia in the 50's which seemed a touch patronising, but this was soon swept away as the characters grew, the music continued and developed and the charm of the piece took over. It is a lot more than frivolous nostalgia as it delved into the patriarchal, somewhat racist Australia as it began to enter the real world after recovering from the war. Loss, loneliness, adjustment to change, the growing independence of women, the embracing of new culture and a whole lot of fun. It is wonderful to end an evening in triumph with everybody happy.
Music wise there were some smashing songs, some fun numbers like 'They are Bastards' and really fantastic arrangements by the inventive band led by Musical Director Isaac Hayward. He really impressed me. For me the appearance of the sensational Christen O'Leary (my sixth of her plays) as the brilliant Hungarian Magda was a huge highlight. God I would love to go to one of Magda's parties. She was real, she was fun she was a breath of fresh air to the somewhat stifled population of that time. Also a favourite was Naomi Price turning in yet another great performance with that wonderful voice as a true treasure. It is only a few weeks since I last saw her on stage when we did get a chance to give her a standing ovation. Then she was backed by the super star Luke Kennedy whom I happened to meet in the foyer last night. After following him for several years now it was such a delight to finally meet face to face as he was there with another friend Chris Kel Lett.
Cast and Creatives.
It was a pretty big cast and as they said what was originally meant to be a chamber musical took flight and became a big show that should have years of returns and travels. As one of the cast said afterwards it was great to sing and tell an Australian story in Australian idioms and not have to sing with an American accent at which point the audience cheered. I repeat the voices were impressive, the story relevant to today, the creativity a joyful celebration.
The Costume Crew with fabulous friend Leigh Buchanan
A bit of a piano rehearsal of the title number way before it took to the stage.