We're a society obsessed with the exterior. We honour reality TV stars for their antics on screen but struggle to name a person in the field of science or technology who are just as popular. We post Instagram pics of our best selves, often times with a filter. In a similar manner, we accept bandaid solutions to some of our most complicated problems, and believe hashtag activism shows our full support for issues important to us.
What Violet, the Tony Award-winning musical now playing at Hayes Theatre Co, teaches us is what we've always been taught - that beauty is only skin deep, and true beauty is in a person's soul.
Fitting, then, that the world in which Violet happens to be set in is the American South in the 1960s, a time when segregation was still in force and the Civil Rights movement fought to challenge the widely-held belief that the colour of a person's skin determined their place in the world.
Violet (Samantha Dodemaide) is a young woman on a mission to rid herself of a horrible scar on her face, which she sustained from a childhood accident. She travels from her tiny hometown of Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma in search of a TV evangelist to heal her. Along the way she meets and befriends two soldiers, a black man named Flick (Barry Conrad) and white man Monty (Steve Danielsen). It's through the relationships she develops with each man individually that Violet learns about inner beauty and self acceptance.
The story is told with charm, humour and some truly heartwarming moments, and incorporates some pretty amazing songs from musical genres like blues, soul and even gospel. These are sure to get you swaying in your seat and toe-tapping throughout the whole show.
The cast did a great job - Dodemaide, Conrad and Danielsen in the three main leads were strong in their performances, as were their supporting cast members Damien Bermingham as Violet's dad and Luisa Scrofani as Young Violet. Special praise goes to the chorus members, for their amazing voices and really bringing the charm and feel of Southern music to life. From the first scene on the bus as Violet makes her way off the farm, to the final song (Bring Me to Light), they embraced the spirit of the story so well. Whilst not being a huge part of the storyline, a favourite scene of mine was the gospel choir performance.
If the storyline doesn't get you, the music surely will. As mentioned, genres used are blues, soul, gospel (little bit of bluegrass), and the band, under Musical Director Lucy Bermingham, really knew how to bring the house down. I'm not gonna lie - I Spotify'd soul music on the way home because of it.
If you've only ever seen musicals staged in Sydney at larger venues like the Lyric Theatre or the Capitol Theatre, then here's your chance to catch an uplifting, wonderfully performed musical in a smaller venue like the Hayes Theatre in Potts Point. Violet is a brilliant musical and one you need to catch before the end of its run.