Opening night of any production must be a trial for all concerned. Will we remember our lines? Will we remember our parts in the musical numbers? Will everything technical work as planned? These and many other questions were answered last Thursday night as the ladies of St Mary's parish presented themselves as Ladies for Hire.
The story is about a small Catholic church choir that finds itself homeless and hymnless after their parish priest - Father Peter (Peter Cameron) - is usurped by a younger and more zealous priest, Father Paul (Carey Knapp), who believes fun, laughter and not-so-sacred music have no place in the house of God.
The rest of the cast are the choir - Harriet (Bev Pearce), Marijka (Jayne Fields), Mary 'O' (Anne Bennett), Teresa (Lynn Whiteside), Mary Mac (Iutita Kilmister), Rebbecca (Trudy Christie) and Shelley (Kaylee Andrews) - and Marijka's wayward teenage son, Trent (Ronan Heathcote).
The first thing we see is the elaborate, stunning and cleverly executed set of the church, complete with stained glass windows, organ, flowers, padded pews, and you'd swear the big crucifix was three dimensional (it isn't). Into this beautifully lit scene comes Shelley, a teenage girl looking to join the choir.
She becomes part of the small group of singers and through her we are introduced to the choir members. After their ignominious ejection from the church, the choir rallies and rents themselves out as a singing group for parties and weddings. A mix-up in the wording of their promotional poster sees them fully booked with audiences expecting a very different type of act.
Such a scenario must be a director's dream, allowing creative freedom with something as incongruous - under the religious circumstances - as a strip scene. It's hilarious in its execution, and full marks to the sound and lighting people (Terry Lobb, Nathan Brown and Jim Ennis) who really made this scene work.
There's also a scene in a car that is not only funny, it's a technical triumph.
We enjoyed this play a lot. There were first night glitches, especially with scene and costume changes, but the plot, script and characters carried it along, giving us laughs and daring to get controversial.
Along with the story, we get to enjoy the choir's lovely singing and delightful harmonies. A credit to the musical director and the talent of the cast.
Newcomer Kaylee Andrews found her character's core and fitted into it nicely, giving us contrast to the more seasoned cast members and allowing for a selection of sub plots to run concurrently. Each character seemed well-formed and consistent, certainly enough for the audience to react with the right emotions in all the right places.
They had a strong script with which to work and a skilled group of production and backstage people to help pull it together.
Amdram people go out of their way to welcome theatre goers and make their experience an enjoyable one.
Ladies for Hire - go and see it, if there are any seats left.
The show continues at Amdram Theatre in Guyton St this Thursday (June 16), Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm.