Paul Danger McLean - McSweeney
Clint Mullins - Montague “Monty” Druit
John Martin - Sherlock Holmes
Paul Trueack - Doctor Watson
Susan Oldknow - Cathy Eddowes
Deidre Quinn - Mary Kelly
Cherylene O’Brien - Annie Chapman
Shelley Pontiac - Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols
Debra Waller - Elizabeth Stride
Susan Oldknow - Lyrics
Sue Monck - Painted Scenery
Chris Burrows - Stage Manager
Tony Strutton - Music Director
Mark Hallam - Sound
Violet Rowe - Props and Wardrobe
Caetlyn McLean - Photography
AJ McLean - Video Support
Arse End of London
Everybody Loves a Mystery
“Jack the Ripper was a fabulous show. Well done to all of you - it was colourful, musical, funny but tasteful, and sad. You were all great. The concept and play were great, lyrics and music were great, and you all looked and sounded very professional. I had a few concerns before I went because the murders were so horrendous and didn't seem to fit with comedy or musical, but it really worked well and paid tribute to the women instead of glorifying the bastard who killed them. Well done guys, and I hope tonight's show is an enormous success. Have fun.”
Presented by Upstage Theatre - Reviewed 19 October 2013
Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes; both literary classics that have been reimagined and revised ad nauseam, particularly Holmes, who has recently undertaken (several) metamorphoses to a refreshed, marketable Gen-Y, portrayed by Robert Downey Jnr. and Benedict Cumberbatch. To even attempt an ever-notorious inter-textual mish-mash would be sheer lunacy, right? Cue stage right, or rather, Upstage Theatre … with the bravado of the wonderful John Martin in Jack the Ripper: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery Musical.
Written by Deidre Quinn, lyrics by Susan Oldknow, every iota of the production is an original creation. With a simple yet aesthetically pleasing set design (including a magnificent London street scene painted by Sue Monck over the course of 3 months) and authentic-to-the-era costumes by Violet Rowe (also the narrator of the evening) … the sum of the parts of this theatrical endeavour is something to be marvelled.
The tale follows the final days of the five prostitutes slain by the brutal and elusive Jack the Ripper. With timely pursuits by the repulsive and sly Pimp McSweeney (Paul McLean) and self-righteous, God-fearing Montague “Monty” Druit (Clint Mullins), we are witness to the motions of these down-on-their-luck women and their desperation to escape hardship and live in the world of the Toffs. Following the trail of mystery and murder are the witty and rambunctious duo Sherlock Holmes (John Martin) and Dr Watson (Paul Trueack). Without a doubt, the rapid-fire repartee between these two is the highlight of the production; their expertly crafted characterisation is authentic, entertaining, and natural (with some fab accents to top it off!). Martin needs a hearty pat on the back for his brisk wordplay, and Trueack’s presence and vocal timbre are trademarks of an expert actor.
The five wenches achieve what one would think impossible of a Lady of the Night; they are relatable, lovable, and empathetic. Oldknow as Cathy Eddowes and Quinn as Mary Kelly are flawless in their roles, with some of the most natural, fluidic and entertaining dialogue I have come across in a theatrical production. Cherylene O’Brien as Annie Chapman equips hilarious physical comedy. Debra Waller as Elizabeth Stride successfully balances the challenging disposition between morality and a descent into desperation (well done, Waller); and though Shelley Pontiac’s appearance as Polly Nichols was brief, she was yet another strong contender that demanded and retained attention for her skillful delivery of dialogue. Quinn wins the award for most authentic accent of the night … so authentic, that I am left to wonder if she is indeed Irish? The songs are frequent but do not smother the performance, wonderfully accompanied by Musical Director Tony Strutton.
A ridiculously fun experience from beginning to end, and an exemplary representation of a theatre company with some fairly impressive talent to showcase. Kudos, Upstage Threatre.
Reviewed by Nathan Giaccio
• Upstage Theatre Company
Venue: Arts Centre, Gawler Street, Port Noarlunga
Season: 19 October 2013
Duration: Approximately 2 hours
Tony Strutton's music score carries the show. The songs, particularly those sung by the five soon to be victims of the Ripper, are strong and gritty; these are real people with hopes and dreams to improve their lot.
There is plenty of humour. Sherlock Holmes and Watson as a fast-talking always-deducing double act are a real laugh as they lead us to ... well see the musical to find out!
Everything about this musical from local Upstage Theatre is original - the script, the score, the songs and the costumes.
A great cast and, for me, great singing that gives life to those who were dragged into those macabre events.
The concept of pitting Sherlock Holmes (an imaginary character) against Jack The Ripper (a semi-mythical figure) isn't a new one (see director Bob Clark's 1979 effort Murder By Decree, just for starters), although Upstage Theatre's original musical shot at the idea plays it out with enough intrigue, bawdy humour and surprising heart ...
Oddly, Holmes (played by director/co-writer John Martin) and Watson (Paul Trueack) only have a few scenes here as, instead, the protagonists are the Ripper's five victims in the 'Arse End Of London' in 1888, and moving in and out of their lives as music hall showgirls, prostitutes and lonely, fearful women, each of whom is allowed at least one melancholy solo tune.
An impressive work that uses the Guthries location to good effect ... proves mostly a ripper of a time.
Final Word: Ambitious.
Jack The Ripper - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery Musical is a unique concept; providing a dark story with the light and shade of 1888. Set in a Whitechapel Music Hall, London, the story develops around five women who were murdered during the autumn of 1888.
It challenges the audience and keeps them guessing "Who Can It be?" this fiend of the night?
You may ask, how are Upstage Theatre turning such a dark story of murder into something lighthearted as well given that Jack the Ripper is not a happy story, and the Sherlock Holmes stories tend to be tension filled mysteries.
The plot is to unravel the age old question of the real identity of who Jack the Ripper was. But also the story is looking into the life of the poverty-stricken victims and understanding their plight of trying to survive in the ghetto of the East End of London during Victorian times.
Songs about Whitechapel, London
From the opening song Arse End Of London the audience is drawn into a time machine back to those heady Victorian days and nights where the songs are gay enough to counteract the cold, dark surrounds of this fog-smoggy disease infested, brutal and violent city.
The totally original lyrics reflect the gaiety, the hardships, the sadness, cheeky retorts and deep melancholy of those who became caught up in the media frenzy that was the story of Jack the Ripper in the daily newspapers.
The music of Jack The Ripper - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery Musical embraces the era with snappy foot tapping sing-a-long numbers and beautiful ballads which are highlighted in Cathy Eddowes' - Cathy's Song and Mary Kelly's - Mary's Song and of course the very clever duo by Holmes and Watson singing Everyone loves a Mystery.
McSweeny the Pimp sells his song P.I.M.P. with flair and a conviction of what it truly means to be evil and sinister. Save Your Soul sung by Monty Druitt with the Salvation Army is just another reflection of life in the Victorian East End and the other side to the coin of how life is seen there.
Jack the Ripper and Read All About it bring fear into this tale of intrigue that has puzzled folks throughout the years.
This is an Intriguing story about lust and violence, murder and poverty.
Upstage Theatre decided to put Sherlock Holmes into the Ripper mystery to create a story that the thrill seeking Ripperologists and Sherlockian fans could come together!!
And the true identity to Jack was found...
But! Don't tell of his identity!
One must come to the performance to find this out!