Sapphires to perform in Shepparton

By John Lewis

Smash hit musical theatre show The Sapphires returns to Shepparton for two uplifting performances next week at Riverlinks Eastbank.

The show, written and directed by Tony Briggs, tells the story of four Yorta Yorta women who became Australia’s answer to Motown’s Supremes when they performed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

It was inspired by the true story of Mr Briggs’s mother Laurel Robinson, and aunt Lois Peeler from Mooroopna who toured Vietnam entertaining troops in the late 1960s.

The musical debuted with Melbourne Theatre Company in 2004 and was revived in 2010 with Christine Anu, Casey Donovan, Hollie Andrew and Kylie Farmer in the lead roles.

A movie, based on the group’s story, was the most successful Australian film of 2012.

Mr Briggs said he hoped the new production reminded people of the excitement and pride that the story brought to Australian audiences.

‘‘I hope audiences will feel a fresh sense of connection to this story and leave with a sense of joy and understanding of who indigenous people are,’’ Mr Briggs said.

The musical is based on four young women who like to sing country music and suddenly get the chance to change their tune, their clothes and their lives. Wearing uniforms of sequins, armed only with microphones, they find themselves trying to spread joy in the hell that is the Vietnam War.

Riverlinks performing arts and conventions manager Ken Cameron said Riverlinks previously hosted The Sapphires in 2010.

‘‘It was a fantastic performance and we are delighted to present this new production,’’ Mr Cameron said.

The Sapphires is on at Riverlinks Eastbank on Wednesday, May 22, at 10.30am and 7.30pm.

Tickets are available online or through the Riverlinks Box Office, phone 58329511.