“Seven Little Australians” is a classic true blue Australian story by Ethel Turner written in 1893. It was adapted for stage by HYT local Joan Leslie and first performed in 2001.
It’s a story of the past – early colonial days in NSW – where old Victorian values, discipline and will power tried to control rather than adapt to the “new” Australian way of life. Experienced through children’s rebellious energy and love of freedom and independence, the story gives us plenty to think about – the love and teamwork of family bonds and the profound effect of loss, life and death on everyone.
I appreciated the young usherettes, dressed in 1890s costume, who politely showed us to our seats. The first group of girls’ conversation, setting the scene, was softly spoken and we strained to hear their important words.
With so many talented young people in the cast, the whole Woolcot family were outstanding in their roles: stern Captain Woolcot, played by Sam Ewart; Clare Grosser as the eldest Meg; Luka Bolte was a responsible Pip; Mia Bryson an energetic Baby; Alex Lang as patient Nell and the cute red-haired Audrey Vincent as “General”; with Harriett Wolf as long-suffering graceful step-mother Esther. Daniel Banham was cheeky and playful as he clearly relished his role as Bunty! And Jaimi Wilson capably played with our emotions as Judy (or Fizz).
The colourful Maypole dance was a joy to watch and we also loved the Bondi Beach Babes dance; “I Do like to be Beside the Seaside” and the Bush Dance in Act 2. Recitation of poetry “I love a sunburnt country”; and the old anthem of “God Save the Queen” with violin accompaniment were both beautifully presented by the cast.
Di Mason’s co-ordination of about 70 youth into a smooth cohesive production was magnificently achieved. Her energy and creativity was reflected in many areas – Director, Choreographer, Tutor, Costumes, Set Design and Props! Stage Manager Catherine Mills also must have had lots of patience and organisation skills.
The 300 authentic-looking costumes were borrowed, designed, sewed, organised and stored by teams of volunteers. And the use of an original wheat cutter, a family heirloom, was another reflection of the lengths HYT went to create authenticity in this fantastic production.
Although the story’s ending was sadly realistic, the success of this play is a credit to the Cast and Production Team and volunteers. It was thoroughly enjoyed by young and old in the audience.