Ladies in Black

Ladies in Black Melbourne Theatre Company opens its 2016 season in glittering fashion with the glorious new musical Ladies in Black, a celebration of glamour, gowns and growing up in 1950s Australia.

Adapted from Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel, The Women in Black, this new production is brought to life by playwright Carolyn Burns (North By Northwest, High Society) and internationally-acclaimed director Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Love Never Dies) with original music from acclaimed singer songwriter, Tim Finn OBE (Split Enz, Crowded House).

“It’s always great to work on a brand new piece, but this one has so many ingredients that I love, that it promises to be really special,” says director, Simon Phillips. “The original novel is a rare jewel, a funny and life-affirming tale that turns small lives into a captivating page-turner and Carolyn’s adaptation perfectly and economically catches its charm and the poetry of its intertwining narratives.”

“Add to that the wonderful, witty melodies of Tim’s score – from laconic bush ballads to soaring, romantic odes to fashion and possibility – and you have a heady mix, a theatrical event with its own beguiling, twinkly-eyed style.

Ladies in Black is a modern-day fairytale set in a stylish department store – F.G. Goodes – in a city in the late 1950s on the cusp of becoming cosmopolitan. Donning a distinguished black dress, the bright-eyed, bookish school leaver Lisa is about to join the sales floor of the city’s most prestigious department store – temporarily, of course.

In that summer of innocence, a world of possibilities opens up as she befriends the colourful denizens of the women’s frocks department – there’s Patty, embroiled in her marital strife; the lovelorn and unlucky Fay; 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.

The production features over 25 original songs by Tim Finn and a stunning range of over 30 custom-designed dresses and suits by international award winning designer Gabriela Tylesova. With a dash of delicate comedy, Ladies in Black is sure to delight Melbourne audiences, having received critical acclaim and a standing ovation at its premiere in Brisbane in 2015.

Director: Simon Phillips  Cast: Andrew Broadbent, Kate Cole, Carita Farrer Spencer, Bobby Fox, Kathryn McIntyre, Lucy Maunder, Sarah Morrison, Christen O’Leary, Naomi Price, Deidre Rubenstein, Greg Stone  Musicians: Gerard Assi, Matt Hassall, David Hatch, Jo To, David Young, Paul Zabrowarny  Composer: Tim Finn  Playwright: Carolyn Burns  Musical Director: David Young  Designer: Gabriela Tylesova  Lighting Designer: David Walters  Orchestrations and Musical Supervisor: Guy Simpson  Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth  Design Associate: Hanna Sandgren

Ladies in Black
The Sumner – Southbank Theatre, 140 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
Season: 20 January – 27 February 2016 (previews: 16 – 19 January)
Bookings: (03) 8688 0800 or online at:

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Christen O’Leary features in Ladies in Black (supplied)