Pictures via Ladies in Black
I was lucky enough to attend the opening night of Ladies in Black by the Queensland Theatre at the Canberra Theatre Centre last night and I found myself, almost surprisingly, astounded by the production. Don’t get me wrong, I love musicals, but most are quite corny and seem to “try-too-hard”, so in a way it’s like my love of trashy American TV – a guilty pleasure. But Ladies in Black was different. Yes, there’s some cheese, but the Australian attitude of not taking oneself too seriously shone through, as well as its ability to approach some pretty difficult issues, and it won my heart.
Set in 1959 in Sydney, the story follows Leslie, a young woman who is seeking to apply for a summer job at Sydney’s most respected department store while waiting for her school leaver’s results. The musical explores her difficulties in expressing to her father her desire to attend university, a male-dominated institution, and reconciling the differences between her conservative family and
the world she encounters at the department store, as well as problems her colleagues find in relationships and the gender-roles that men and women play in the family setting. The production presents these difficult topics in a light-hearted manner, but there’s definitely a take home message for everyone.
Above: “He’s a bastard”
The acting, the singing, the costumes, the choreography are all beautifully executed and it’s very easy to get lost in the time and place of the musical. Above all, however, Ladies in Black is true blue Australian comedy – with numbers like “He’s a Bastard” and lots of hilariously flawed characters with outrageous Aussie
accents, the production celebrates its setting in 1950s Sydney refreshingly. And if anyone has ever worked in retail over the Christmas sales (like I have ), it’s remarkably relatable. If it’s anything to go by, my boyfriend was laughing quite a lot of the time – and he doesn’t like musicals.
Ladies in Black is only in Canberra until 2 April, so take some girlfriends (or drag your partner along, like I did) and grab a ticket from the Canberra Theatre Centre website. I might even see you there for another performance.