BOMBSHELLS (Australia/UK) by Joanna Murray-Smith, directed by Simon Philips, with Caroline O'Connor. Brigantine Room, York Quay Centre (235 Queens Quay West). April 25-29 at 8 pm. Rating: NNNNN
This year's World Stage may be a solo event, but Caroline O'Connor's bringing a quartet of women with her from England.
She'll play all four of them in Joanna Murray-Smith's Bombshells, morphing from an uncertain bride-to-be to a frantic mother, from an older widow who rediscovers one of life's pleasures to a teen at her school talent show.
"The range may be wide, but they're all aspects of women's strengths and weaknesses," says O'Connor from her London home, her ebullient personality radiating over the phone.
"At one performance, after finishing the crazed mother, I heard one woman say, 'My God, I'm exhausted.' I heard that another, a new mother, started lactating."
No surprise that O'Connor has such stage power. She divides her time between Australia and London, though Broadway audiences saw her as Chicago's Velma Kelly; she's just done a London run of the musical On The Town, playing the outspoken taxi driver performed by Lea DeLaria in a recent New York revival.
Later this year she returns to Australia to premiere a show about Judy Garland, and her film work includes Moulin Rouge and De-Lovely, in which she sang an Ethel Merman number.
Bombshells premiered as a six-character piece in Melbourne, but two segments were dropped when it played the Edinburgh Fringe.
The sellout show did well up against 1,500 other pieces. Only one other production - One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, with Christian Slater - sold out the entire festival. O'Connor won a Fringe First award, various best-actor prizes and in London picked up an Olivier Award nomination.
"I get to sing a little, dance a little and play women from 15 to 57 in this exhausting piece of work. I've learned that it's the hardest thing to do a one-woman show - there's no backup, no one to help you if you get lost."
This year's World Stage festival proves that one isn't the loneliest number. Subtitled Flying Solo, it features more than 20 one-person productions from around the globe. For the first time ever, the whole fest takes place at a single locale - Harbourfront Centre. And you can’t beat the $25-or-less ticket price. Here’s NOW’s spotlight on some of the best of the fest.
The World Stage Flying Solo festival, a three-week international theatre, visual arts and literary fest presented by Harbourfront Centre at various venues on Queens Quay West. (See NOW's related listings sections for specific events.) Runs to May 1. Mainstage shows $25; Kafka And Son $15; International readings $8; some events free. 416-973-4000, www.harbourfrontcentre.com/worldstage.