Ladies in Black Review: An Iconic Moment for Brisbane

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Three words: Ladies in Black. It's more than just traditional musical theatre, it's a frock fest from heaven's wardrobe.

Step back in time to the 1950s where fashion, culture and social prejudice were still evolving. This extraordinary piece is a stylish story of friendship, lust worthy dresses and the women that wear them.

From the adaption of Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel, The Women in Black, this new production is brought to life by Australian screenwriter Carolyn Burns and internationally-acclaimed director Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Love Never Dies) with original music from acclaimed singer songwriter, Tim Finn OBE (Split Enz, Crowded House).

The cast of 11 delivered an exceptional performance where you can't help but fall in love with the characters. They are honest and truthful and it's near impossible not to get drawn into their world as they go through the emotional rollercoaster of life.


We of course acknowledge the faces behind the scenes who worked tirelessly to create the on-stage perfection.

"[This production] was a huge undertaking in 5 weeks, this is actually a 3 month job. It's a very large and detailed show," said Head of Wardrobe, Vicky Martin.

Martin said the team had been working right up to the minute. "It was quite stressful and phenomenal to see it all come together."

With the period being set in the 50s the wardrobe crew had to take inspiration from this iconic time to ensure every element was authentic. From the shoes, to the wigs - every decision had to be made with meticulous attention to detail.

Ladies in Black also features a stunning range of some 30 custom-designed and created dresses and suits, representing one of the biggest wardrobe projects for the company since 1999. There are three full stage revolves in the show, 400 lighting cues, a six piece band on stage at all times, and more than 60 costume changes.

Brisbane's opening night had guests rise to their feet to congratulate the faces in-front of and behind Ladies in Black with a standing ovation.


In its entirety, it is theatre with depth. The reminiscent visuals and familiar storyline will transport you back in time. Laughter will fill the air and smiles are present as each audience member falls in love with the history, innocence and glamour that is Ladies in Black.

The production is already confirmed to open the Melbourne Theatre Company’s (MTC) Season 2016 in January next year, another coup for QTC.

Executive Director, Sue Donnelly from Queensland Theatre Company said, "All of the staff has been remarkable. I hope that in a couple more years, we do another musical."

"I'm really moved by this, I love this show."

Tickets are available at or by calling 136 246

In Brisbane now until December 06, 2015

About Ladies in Black

With a dash of delicate comedy, Ladies in Black is a modern-day fairytale set in a stylish department store - F.G. Goodes - in a city on the cusp of becoming cosmopolitan and crossing the threshold between the stuffy repression of the 1950s and the glorious liberation of the 1960s. Donning a distinguished black dress, the bright-eyed, bookish school leaver Lisa is about to join the ranks on the sales floor of the city’s most prestigious department store – temporarily, of course. Her domineering dad intends to railroad her into a career as a secretary, but Lisa has grander schemes in mind.

In that summer of innocence, a world of possibilities opens up as she befriends the colourful denizens of the women’s frocks department – there’s Patty, embroiled in her marital strife; the lovelorn and unlucky Fay; and the exotic, compelling European refugee, Magda, mysterious mistress of the model gowns, who takes Lisa under her wing. From the Christmas rush to the chaos of the sales, these women stand shoulder to padded shoulder and together learn lessons in life, love and longing – and at the end, it’s not just the fancy frocks that are forever altered.