Following its previous critically acclaimed seasons in Brisbane and Melbourne, Queensland Theatre’s Helpmann-Award winning musical, Ladies in Black is preparing for its premiere in the city in which the story is based, at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre from early January.
Ladies in Black will then return for an encore season in Brisbane from 28 January, before another encore season in Melbourne from 25 February, before making its way to Canberra from 27 March 2017.
From the adaptation of Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel, The Women in Black, this acclaimed production has been brought to life by Australian screenwriter Carolyn Burns and internationally-acclaimed director Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Love Never Dies) with original music from legendary singer songwriter, Tim Finn OBE (Split Enz, Crowded House).
A stylish story of fashion, friendship and 1950s Australia, the world premiere of Ladies in Black took place in Brisbane in November 2015 with the frock-fest signalling a stunning and triumphant return of musical theatre for the company. In July, Ladies in Black won the coveted Helpmann Award for Best New Australian Work and was nominated for another five awards.
The show features over 20 original songs written by Tim Finn, and a stunning range of some 30 custom-designed and created dresses and suits. The genesis of Ladies in Black actually happened at the Brisbane Airport – Tim Finn was famously looking for a book to read, bought The Women in Black and on reading it, was compelled to call Simon Phillips and plant the seed for a stage production. On the plane, he started writing the music. The rest is history…
Revisiting the role of Lisa, the young starry eyed school-leaver is rising star, Sarah Morrison. Sarah studied Opera at the Queensland Conservatorium after high school, and then moved to Victoria to follow her first love in musical theatre. In this her first pivotal role, she has won acclaim and ovation.
The brilliant Bobby Fox, who wowed audiences playing Frankie Valli in the smash hit Jersey Boys, returns as Rudi (otherwise known as the ‘Continental’) along with the multi-talented and award-winning artist Carita Farrer Spencer who will play Mrs Miles.
Music and stage star Kathryn McIntyre will play Myra, while accomplished Greg Stone (Once, The Glitch) again takes on the dual roles of Mr Miles and Stefan. Joining him is Kate Cole (Sweet Charity, Grounded) who again takes to the stage as the characters Miss Cartwright and Joy.
New to the cast for the Australian tour is leading lady of stage and screen Natalie Gamsu (Strictly Ballroom) who will play the character of Magda, while Helpmann Award nominee for Once, Madeleine Jones, will play Patty. Taking the role of Fay is acclaimed actress Ellen Simpson, while multi-award winning actor Trisha Noble will play the dual roles of Miss Jacobs and Mrs Crow. Rounding out the cast is WAAPA graduate Tamlyn Henderson (Les Miserables, Redfern Now) who will play the character of Frank.
With a dash of delicate comedy, Ladies in Black is a magical modern-day fairytale set in a stylish department store – F.G. Goode – in a city on the cusp of becoming cosmopolitan: Sydney is crossing the threshold between the stuffy repression of the 1950s and the glorious liberation of the 1960s. Donning a distinguished black dress, the bright-eyed, bookish school leaver Lisa is about to join the ranks on the sales floor of the city’s most prestigious department store – temporarily, of course.
Her domineering dad intends to railroad her into a career as a secretary, but Lisa has grander schemes in mind. In that summer of innocence, a world of possibilities opens up as she befriends the unlucky Fay and the frustrated Patty; and the exotic, compelling European refugee, Magda, mysterious mistress of the model gowns, who takes Lisa under her wing.
From the Christmas rush to the chaos of the sales, these women stand shoulder to padded shoulder and together learn lessons in life, love and longing – and at the end, it’s not just the fancy frocks that are forever altered.
“Tim Finn’s debut musical delivers a beautifully universal message with an Aussie accent.” – Limelight Magazine
Director: Simon Phillips Featuring: Kate Cole, Carita Farrer Spencer, Bobby Fox, Natalie Gamsu, Tamlyn Henderson, Madeleine Jones, Kathryn McIntyre, Sarah Morrison, Trisha Noble, Ellen Simpson, Greg Stone Musical Director: David Young Orchestrations: Guy Simpson Designer: Gabriela Tylesova Lighting Designer: David Walters Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth Book: Carolyn Burns Music and Lyrics: Tim Finn
Ladies in Black
Sydney Lyric Theatre
Season: 3 – 22 January 2017
Playhouse – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Bank (Brisbane)
Season: 28 January – 19 February 2017
Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street, Melbourne
Season: 25 February – 19 March 2017
Canberra Theatre Centre, London Circuit, Canberra
Season: 27 March – 2 April 2017
For more information, visit: www.ladiesinblack.com.au for details.
Image: Original Cast of Ladies in Black – photo by Rob Maccoll