The groundbreaking Australian musical The Hatpin by James Millar and Peter Rutherford earned much praise when it premiered at the Seymour Centre in Sydney in 2008, and now it makes a return via the amateur theatre circuit.
The Hatpin is based on the true story of Amber Murray, an 18-year-old single mother who lived in Redfern in 1892. The Hatpin celebrates her fight to give her son a better life.
In an era when birth control was unavailable, abortion violent and illegal, employment scarce and financial support for single mothers non-existent, Murray – like many young mothers in the same position – was urged to advertise her baby in a newspaper trading column. Professional child-minders Charles and Agatha Makin answered the advertisement and accepted a small payment each week in return for their service of care.
The Hatpin follows Amber Murray’s tireless efforts to reform her life for her son in the face of terrifying and wicked adversity and her struggle to be in a position to reclaim him.
The case of Amber Murray and her son Horace led to great reforms for the plight of the single mother and was largely responsible for the establishment of the 1902 Child Protection Act.
With nominations for Best New Australian Work, plus two nominations for Best Actress at the 2009 Sydney Theatre Awards, the original production featuring Barry Crocker AM, Peter Cousens, Caroline O’Connor and Melle Stewart thrilled audiences at the Seymour Centre in 2008 before taking London and New York by storm.
From April 9-17, Riverside Lyric Ensemble will bring the amateur premiere of this unbelievable tale to the Lennox Theatre at the Riverside Theatres in Parramatta.
The production features Sarah Blackstone as the strong-willed Amber Murray, Penny Dunn as Amber’s bubbly friend Harriet Piper, Michele Landsdown and Christopher Hamilton as the conniving Agatha and Charles Makin, and Erin McMurdo as their sharp-eyed daughter Clara.
Directed by Craig Stewart with Peter Hayward as musical director, this production is guaranteed to thrill and move a whole new audience.
Of the original production, AussieTheatre.com‘s Joanna Erskine said: “The Hatpin is a revelation in Australian theatre. Anyone in the audience on opening night could tell that the standing ovation was not just for Millar, Hardwick, Rutherford and the cast. It was a proclamation of a stellar new Australian musical that is finally hitting the big stage and isn’t afraid to tackle some pretty dark issues. It was the heralding of a new age in which we have something to play against the domination of Broadway, a show about our history (no matter how murky) and a show to be proud of.”
The Hatpin opens at the Riverside Theatre on April 9. Bookings: (02) 8839 3399.