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The true, dark story, of Amber Murray
The Hatpin is an Australian musical, written by WAAPA graduates Peter Rutherford and James Millar, and is making its Australian debut at the Old Mill Theatre in South Perth.
Set in Sydney in 1892, The Hatpin is inspired by the true story of Amber Murray, as single mum of just 18 years of age. In order to find work, Amber gives her young son Horace into the care of Agatha and Charles Makin, with tragic results. The dark themes of the production make it challenging, both emotionally and musically for the performers, and is an interesting journey for the audience.
Apon entering the theatre, the audience sees young Clara Makin (played by Madeleine Shaw) sitting on a lone stool reading a book. Leading into the overture from the hidden orchestra, lead by Paul Lawrence Olsen, the audience is taken back in time via the beautifully hand painted backdrop, painted by Tim Prosser, and the photo montage created by Danni Close.
While the stage of Old Mill isn't large to start with, and part of it taken by the hidden orchestra, the staging works very well with a cast of less than 20, but this does lead to a slight lacking with chorus singing.
Danni Close, Hayley Currie, Sarsi Elsberry and Sarah Cosstick
All the cast were well placed with the character they played, with standouts of Madeleine Shaw, with the production's title song, Danni Close as one of the other mothers 'in trouble' who most connected with her emotions, and Adam Salathiel, who brings authority to the role of Justice Stephen. Andrea van Bertouch and Angelino Schintu work well together as Agatha and Charles Makin. While the technical singing required for the role of Amber Murray suited Sarah Cosstick beautifully, the physical portrayal of a young desperate 18 year old woman was in my opinion somewhat difficult for her to achieve.
Despite it's sinister and dark storyline this is definitely a production worth seeing for fans of theatre, musicals or even Australian history. The Hatpin is on now until July 26th. Details can be found on Old Mill Theatre's website
Amendment to the above article;
The Australian premier of this production was held by Neil Gooding Productions under the banner of Magnormous, the Old Mill Theatre production of The Hatpin is actually the West Australian premier.
Apologies for the mix up