The ADMS 2012 production of The Hatpin

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The ADMS 2012 production of The Hatpin takes you on a moving journey of great friendship borne out of tragedy. 





Directed by George Torbay with musical direction by Bruce Menzies, The Hatpin is based on the true story of Amber Murray, a young single-mother living in Sydney in 1892, who advertised for someone to care for her baby to save his life and became embroiled in one of Australia’s most notorious criminal trials. At a time when the rights and welfare of women were largely non- existent and the right to vote still some ten years away, The Hatpin is dramatic musical theatre that revolves almost entirely around women. Poverty, vulnerability, fear, anger and ultimately compassion, friendship and justice are just some of the complex emotions and themes portrayed in The Hatpin, with bonds of motherhood and sisterhood underlying the story.

The depth of talent in the Armidale community is again on show in this production. The downtrodden but courageous Amber Murray is played by Caroline King, in her second major role for the ADMS. Having completed her HSC at PLC in 2011, Caroline is undertaking a gap year and working as a medical receptionist to build towards her future study in voice and musical theatre.

“Amber’s strength and perseverance to bring to light the injustice of her situation I found compelling and intriguing,” said Caroline.

In her first major character performance with the ADMS, fans of local bands The BobCatz and Al Heeney R&B Band would be familiar with the vocals of Carol Elder, who establishes the character of the free spirited Harriet Piper.

Harriet befriends and supports Amber in the impending court case, but this relationship also underlies the emotional needs of Harriet herself. “Harriet is pretty tough on the outside, but soft on the inside. A lot of us have to be a bit like that at one time or another,” said Carol.

Amber’s plight was shared by others, and the roles of three such mothers are played by Mollie Galvin, Jodie Perry and Anita Brown.

Mollie is in Year 11 at NEGS and recently performed at Opera in the Paddock. Mollie said she feels “for the sense of protection and desire to give a child the best you can” that her character Rebecca uses as the rationale for her actions.

A newcomer to Armidale and with young children of her own, Jodie Perry also feels for the anguish and guilt experienced by so many single mothers in those times unable to care for their infants. The Hatpin is the first musical role for Anita Brown, an accomplished stage actor who plays Marianne Leonard and said: “My character’s recollection of her child’s birth and the stigma of being an unmarried mother still moves me to tears.”

The Hatpin also introduces ADMS newcomers, Emily Stocker and Emily Roberts, playing respectively Agatha Makin and her daughter Clara.

“Agatha is truly evil – a deeply manipulative woman who views others only in terms of what she can extract for her own benefit,” said Emily, who added, “I would like all audience members to know that I am actually really quite lovely!”

For Emily Roberts, who also completed her HSC last year, this is by far her most challenging role. She said: “Trying to understand the emotions and then the amazing moment of revelation in the final court scene is just one of my many favourite moments in this incredible show.”

Don’t miss these amazing women in The Hatpin. This acclaimed musical drama will leave you breathless.

Opens 11 May to 26 May at the Michael Hoskins Centre, TAS.

Tickets at Dymocks (Ph 6771 4558) or online from

Story – Warren Bartik.            Photography – Terry Cooke.

This story was published in issue 60 of New England Focus

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