When Ladies In Black first opened, leading lady Sarah Morrison admits she was caught up in the magic of being in her debut leading role.
“I didn’t really sit back and go, ‘Wow, what a privilege!’,” Morrison said.
Sarah Morrison plays the central character of Lisa Miles and when Ladies In Black returned to tour this year, Morrison was much more aware of the privilege it is for a performer to originate a role.
Ladies in Black won the 2016 Helpmann Award for the Best New Australian Work and was nominated in numerous other categories.
“This show manages to make extraordinary out of the ordinary, which I think is what makes it so relatable … you’ve got a book that was written in the early 90s, about the 50s, being performed in 2017, yet there’s a seamless continuity through those decades,” explained Morrison.
The beautiful score is written by Tim Finn, and although Morrison admits she loves many of the songs, her favourite is probably ‘The Fountain’.
“It’s the first insight you see into Lisa and her passion for poetry – and she kind of goes off into her own little world. It’s a very eerie and beautiful song, but I think there’s a lot of heart in that song. You really see what she’s about. She’s by herself and she’s not putting on her pretence of pleasing mum and dad and you really see what she wants.”
Audiences have embraced the musical.
“It truly is an Australian story. Everyone comes to the theatre to escape and the fact that there are so many happy endings is really nice … People walk out of the theatre just laughing and smiling.”
Morrison explained she has had many audience members talk to her at stage door after the show and share their own experiences of not being allowed to go to university or being sent to secretarial college.
Ladies In Black is not just a show for older audiences who remember the bygone era. Sarah Morrison feels the musical is also relevant for young girls.
“Girls can be heroes too. I don’t mean to sound overly feminist, but for me, and for young girls coming to see Ladies in Black, it’s so important to have these girls up there who have simple dreams. The big idea about the show is courage and courage is completely different for everyone.”
The musical is based on the book The Women in Black by Madeleine St John. Morrison encourages fans of the musical to read the book.
“I would absolutely encourage people to read the book, because it just takes it to a whole other level – there is so much going on.”
Ladies In Black is playing in Canberra until Sunday 2nd April.