Old Spice Club Cabaret 1992

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Brown’s Mart Theatre, Darwin

From rap to tap, the Grey Panthers took us on a journey through song and dance through the decades. They challenged views we all hold about seniors. Whether they are singing songs such as  ‘Ladies of the Town ’ and ‘It’s Not Unusual to Want Sex at 65 ’, roller-skating across the stage, spinning on their backs on the floor or presenting a high energy performance of ‘Shout ’, this debut full length cabaret shook up those preconceptions. Performed April 29 - 30, May 2 - 3.

Directors Notes 

Eleven weeks ago we had our first rehearsal for what has become 'The Old Spice Club Cabaret'. Each Friday over these weeks David, Sarah, Merrilee and I met with the sixteen women who are the cast in today's performance. With candour and openness these women shared with us their attitudes about living as older women and recalled past and present experiences from their lives. Yet underlying our discussions was the question "Who would be interested in hearing about what I used to do and what I think now?"

As the project unfolded, this group of women ranging in age from 57 - 77 years have demonstrated with style, their abilities and determination to learn and take part fully in the present. The most outstanding quality that I have witnessed during our time together is the energy that these women have to enjoy living, with a quiet self assurance.

And what fun we had! - Joanna Barrkman

Creative Personnel

Director: Joanna Barrkman
Choreographer: Sarah Calver
Assistant Director and Choreographer: David McMicken
Musical Director: Merrilee Mills
Designer & Stage Manager: Anda Petrapsch
Lighting Design & Operation: Anne Maree Garcia

Cast

Performers: Inger Andersson, Kath Baldwin, Ruth Blandy, Adie Bruce, Julie Dowson, Audrey Gorring, Glad Morris, Marie Porter, Lila Prochazka, Greta Quong, Marjorie Reynolds, Joy Soullier, Frida Staats, Hanna Stamm, Audrey Svara, Jean Young Smith

The Band: Geoff Alexander - Clarinet & Saxophone, Colyn Blerton - Double Bass, Richard Macks - Piano Accordion, Merrilee Mills - Piano, Clarinet & Keyboard, John Spellman Snr- Keyboard & Cello

Scenario

Act One
Dressing Up As Oldies
Joy – Oldies Are Worth A Lot
Undressing – Throwing Away The Old
Second Wind Tappers: Tea For Two
Joy And Kath: Mandorah
Audrey And Frida: Weird Boyfriend
Julie Monologue As The Waitress
The Bric A Brac Singers: Medley:
Lambeth Walk
Sewing Circle
Silver Lining Dancers: Begin The Beguine/Ballroom
Cleaners: Glad And Marie - Side By Side
Act Two
Tea Ladies: Glad And Marie – Underneath The Arches
Working Women Chant
Super Spectrums: Jitter Bug And Jive - Shout
It’s Not Unusual
Ladies Of The Night: Julie, Adie And Marje
What Society Thinks I Am, What I Think I Am
Rap Dance
It’s Not Unusual Encore

Thankyou

ABC Radio, Andrea Britton, Jane Carpenter,Channel 8, Darwin City Council, Darwin Theatre Company, Alison Dowell, Kim Gleeson, Dino Hodge, David James, Matthew James, Tessa James, Nora Lewis, Alyson Mills, Kath Mills, NT News, NT TLC & Mayday Office, Tessa Pauling, Pensioners workshop, Jill Pilkington, Gillian Rose Schwab, Sue Ross, Jude Swift, Tracey Village, Kylie Thomas, The Beaufort Hotel, Victoria Whelan, Yoris Wilson, Tain Yard, 8 Top FM, 24 Hour Art

1992

Dance Development Office: David McMicken

[Under Brown’s Mart Community Arts – Executive Officer Ken Conway]

Photos: 

Further Reading

The history of the Grey Panthers

Media Response

"… laced with youthful enthusiasm. ... swept aside traditional stereotypes and given new light to a new side of old age … the humour is always quick, and there is no room for prudes on stage or in the audience."  Marney White.  Northern Territory News

Audience Response

"They enter quietly into the red, lush and gilt décor of entertainment like a child in glee and before our very eyes age into crochet and cross-stitch, bonnets and crafted-flowers and the trembling signs of Granny’s doom. It’s a sleight of many spirited hands, because there is little of the granny in these surprising older women. Brushing away cobwebby stereotypes, tapping images of senility well under foot, The Old Spice Club Cabaret bristles with wry comic energy and charms its audience. As a group of women they are feminist by force, left or leaving behind their menfolk, though they quickly assure us that male company is theirs for the taking, visiting “John” first thing in the morning, chatting with “Arthur”- it is day in and day out, even rubbing shoulders with “Al”-zimers from time to time. In song, dance, and skit, the razzle-dazzle of cabaret is thus spiced by steel edged tenacity, which conveys the wisdom of experience and their robust appetite for more.

The show “Lambeth Walks” through time, turning with nostalgia before rapping the kids off the streets with “Ladies of the Town”. Its vision is expansive and generous, cherishing the past but excited by the rhythms of the future, which is a philosophy for any age, both collectively and individually, to re-examine more, perhaps, than we tend to do. Nothing in the performance, however, is so serious as it ambles “Underneath the Arches” or rocks and rollicks its way through “Shout”, but the younger amongst us must inevitably come to the question of “why is this show so appealing?” On reflection, part of the answer is this comprehensive vision, and part too the women in their multiple aspects - hopeful young slips of girls anxious and ogling a prospective partner, working women driving trucks during the war, farming, interminably battling the mop and the kitchen and vital female sexuality; “It’s not unusual to have sex at 65”. Such twists take irreverent swipes at age, or at least our cultural perspective of what “the Oldies”, should and should not do. We come patronisingly to give the “old Girls” a chance, and women, strong and gentle, seduce us and hopefully stitch up some of our ragged attitudes.

Along with the vigour and enthusiasm of their performance, two images strike me as the essence of The Old Spice Club Cabaret: the juxtaposition of the women’s energy and colour against the distinguished yet stolid support of the male musicians, and the curious grace of the women toiling together over a patchwork quilt. When they turned the cloth around to reveal their handiwork, I felt the urge to amend their motto, MAKE DO AND MEND THE WORLD, to ASPIRE LIKE US AND MEND THE WORLD. I know their hearts are too unassuming to flaunt grand statements, but visit their cabaret and the statement they make is grand, thanks to the girls, women, ladies and grannies of our time, and those artists who trusted in the elderly integrity of those young hearts." Maggi Phillips

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