Madeleine Jones has come a long way since the days she would put on a show in her lounge room, charging the grown-ups 20 cents admission.
The Katoomba native is currently wowing Sydney audiences in Australia’s latest home-grown smash hit musical, Ladies in Black.
Starting its season last Tuesday as part of the Sydney Festival, “audiences have just loved” it, Jones told the Gazette ahead of opening night on Friday, January 6.
Set in a 1950s Sydney department store, loosely modeled on David Jones, Ladies in Black follows the dreams of a young school-leaver and the friendships she develops among her female co-workers of the store’s gowns and hosiery department.
Tim Finn of legendary groups Split Enz and Crowded House penned the show’s more than 20 original songs.
“It’s such an Australian show and then because it’s a Sydney show as well there’s something about it that the audience feels a real sense of almost pride and ownership of,” Jones said of the early audience reaction.
The former Blaxland High School student plays Patty, a woman struggling in passionless marriage but forced to put on the appearance of the ‘perfect wife’.
“That has been the real test for me – finding those differences in her character,” she said. “She’s a person who has almost four sides – [there’s] how she is by herself, how she is with her husband, how she is at work, and we also get to see her with her mum and her sisters. You get a really well-rounded idea of this woman and the different faces she puts on to the world.”
Playing a lead role in a major musical isn’t a new experience for Jones who starred in the Australian production of the Broadway smash hit Once in 2014-2015. She was nominated for a Helpmann Award for her performance in its Melbourne season
“Once was such a gift of a show,” she said. “Sometimes these roles come along and they’re just perfect. The whole team was excellent. It was pretty wild seeing yourself on [advertising on] trams and on the backs of taxis... It was a wonderful show.”
Her performing talents were honed in school and amateur productions in the Blue Mountains, including roles with now-defunct company Out of the Blue’s productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Tommy. Even earlier, she took to the stage at Blaxland High School in musicals Back to the 80s and Fame.
“I’ve been performing in one way or another for as long as I can remember,” she said, “be it in piano concerts at the Opera House when I was little or putting on shows with my next door neighbour in our lounge room and charging 20 cents for mum to come in the door. It’s almost been a natural progression until now.”
With local audiences lapping up Ladies in Black, Jones hopes its natural progression could be on the world stage.
“I would love for it to go international,” she said. “The songs in themselves are definitely not ‘stuck’ in Australia and the coming of age story is something that everyone can relate to.”
Ladies in Black is on at the Sydney Lyric Theatre until January 22. Details and bookings: http://www.sydneylyric.com.au/ladies-in-black/