GOOSEBERRY Hill singer-actor Sarsi Elsberry is appearing in the WA premiere of a musical following the lives of women in a British prison, as part of Blak Yak Theatre’s latest offering this winter.
Bad Girls – The Musical is based on the UK TV series featuring female inmates in the fictional Her Majesty’s Prison Larkhall, exploring their relationships in a variety of traumatic circumstances.
It is the story of new, idealistic Wing Governor Helen Stewart and her battles with the entrenched old guard of Officer Jim Fenner and his sidekick Sylvia Hollamby.
A love story develops between Helen and charismatic inmate Nikki Wade.
The musical is written by the authors of the TV series, Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus, with music and lyrics by Kath Gotts.
Elsberry plays Shell Dockley, a character she describes as the epitome of the show’s Bad Girls title.
“She is one of the few characters in the show who has a life sentence and, from that alone, we can see she has been through and done things that most would find bitchy, to say the least,” she said.
“Overall, Shell is someone who looks after herself, for herself – and God help anyone who gets in her way.
“She has little-to-no redeeming qualities, which is what drew me to her originally, but I’m finding it quite a challenge to stay true to how bad she really is.”
Performing since she was eight, Elsberry started at KADS Theatre in The Jungle Book, After 8 and Connect Four before joining the Kalamunda Youth Theatre Company – now known as Climbing Vine – to appear in Pandora’s Box, Night Terrors and Tribe.
The former Kalamunda Senior High School student also acted in The Waiting Womb and Ruby Moon while at school and performed in AIDA at Marloo Theatre, then went on to study at the WA Academy of Performing Arts.
Elsberry’s theatre and drama studies continued at Murdoch University where she performed in a number of productions including The Vagina Monologues, No Exit and Extra Ordinary People.
Other performance work includes short films, radio and the rock album The Diments.
“Bad Girls – The Musical appealed because the music is a work of genius and it was an opportunity to work with an amazing cast and crew,” Elsberry said.
“It also has a unique plot and a pretty much all-female cast – and the opportunity to play such a bitchy character is always fun.”
Bad Girls – The Musical continues director Lorna Mackie’s love of alternative musicals.
“I relished the opportunity to direct a show primarily about women,” she said.
“It explores a number of subjects such as violence, manipulation and more but from a very human perspective.
“While the show has its grand moments, it never loses sight of the human component.
“The show also has a truly beautiful score with witty and funny music.”
Bad Girls – The Musical plays at 8pm on July 29, 30, August 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 with a 2pm matinee August 7 at the Chrissie Parrott Arts in Maylands.
Book at www.blakyak.com.au.