y The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl single work   musical theatre  
Alternative title: The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl : An Operetta in Two Acts; The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl : A Musical Play in Two Acts
Issue Details: First known date: 1844 1844
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Ballad opera (in two acts).

The lively and light-hearted story concerns a rich uncle (Sir Samuel Simile) who mistakenly believes that his nephew is going to marry a 'native' girl when the lad is in fact to marry Susan Hearty - a currency lass (white girl born in Australia). The uncle is put through a good deal of torment before being told of his error.

Geoghegan wrote The Currency Lass for Tilly Jones, a popular young actress who was also among the first citizens to be born in Australia. There is, however, no record of her ever having appeared in any of the three 1844 Victoria Theatre productions. Although now recognised as historically significant, The Currency Lass did not fare as well as other productions presented by Samuel Lazar at the Royal Victoria during the same year. More popularly received, for example, were plays such as Humphrey Clinker (farce), Twins of Warsaw, Sworn at Highgate, The Beehive (musical farce), The Executioner, Aladdin, Turning the Tables, and Geoghegan's big success, The Hibernian Father.

The fourteen songs used in the original production had new lyrics set to pre-existing tunes, as is traditionally the case with the ballad opera style (see note below). The melodies used were mostly from traditional Irish, English or Scottish songs, with the choice of material sometimes undertaken with a degree of deliberate humour. In his preface to the 1976 Currency edition Roger Covell points for example to the air 'A Fine Old English Gentleman' (the melody comes from an Irish dialect song) which Geoghegan uses to recall the supposed golden age of English gentry. Covell also suggests that the actor playing the role of Susan requires agility and accuracy in both her singing and dancing (these are sometimes required with much vigour at the same time). This is particularly the case in a pivotal scene in Act Two where she performs a sequence of five characterised songs and dances. Although many of the songs used by Geoghegan are no longer well-known, several tunes are still reasonably recognisable today - these being, 'Malbrook' (a French melody used by English-speaking people when they sing 'For He's a Jolly Good Fellow'); 'Over the Hills and Far Away' (from John Gay's The Beggar's Opera); and 'The Lincolnshire Poacher' (its melody is also used for the Australian folksong, 'The Murrumbidgee Shearer').

The 1966 Jane Street production was part of a trilogy of plays used to launch the company's season of Australian drama. The other two plays were I've Come about the Assassination by Tony Morphett, and The Pier by Michael Thomas. All three plays utilised members of the same company. The 1989 Q Theatre production, which kept the lighthearted, comic feel of Geoghegan's original, cast Aboriginal actor Justine Saunders in the role of the bigoted uncle, Samuel Similie, in an attempt to re-orientate Goeghegan's theme towards one of race. The stage also featured a ground plan of Aboriginal dots and circle motifs.

Notes

  • The Currency Lass has been described in generic terms as musical play, operetta and even opera. Although Roger Covell argues that the term musical play 'communicates a better idea today of the nature of [the work] and would have been understood in the eighteen-forties in much the same way... [particularly as] 'ballad opera' was no longer a current theatrical term' (xvi), the insertion of traditional and popular songs into a work of drama, as The Currency Lass does, invites too close a comparison to the ballad opera genre to be ignored.

  • 1844 : Royal Victoria Theatre, Sydney ; 27-28 May, 4 June. Mngr. John Lazar. - Cast incl. Mr Fenton (Samuel Simile), J. G. Griffiths (Harry Hearty), Mr James (Edward Stanford), Mme Louise (Susan Hearty), Joseph Simmons (Lanty O'Liffey), Mrs Wallace (Jenny), Mrs Torning (Miss Dormer).

    1966 : Jane Street Theatre, Sydney ; 1-15 October. Dir. Robin Lovejoy ; Des. David Copping. - Cast incl. Gaye Anderson (Susan), Martin Harris (Harry), Edward Hepple (Samuel), Beverley Kirk (Catherine Dormer), Ross Thompson (Edward), Anthony Thurbon (Lanty) Anne Bannon (Jenny).

    1989 : Q Theatre, Penrith (NSW) ; 26 August - ca. September. Dir. Egil Kipste ; Music Dir. Robert Gavin ; Music Arr. Roger Covell ; Des. D4 Design (Michael Scott- Mitchell) ; Lighting. Mark Shelton. - Cast: Laurence Clifford, Melinda Marcellos, Luciano Martucci, Michelle Pettigrove, Justine Saunders, Carman Tanti, Michael Turkic.

  • This entry has been sourced from on-going historical research into Australian-written music theatre being conducted by Dr Clay Djubal.

Contents

* Contents derived from the Sydney, New South Wales,: Currency Press , 1976 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
The Currency Lass : Introduction, Roger Covell , 1844-1976 single work criticism biography (p. xiii - xxiii)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

      .
      (Manuscript) assertion
      Note/s:
      • 2 volumes
      • Manuscript submitted to the Colonial Secretary for approval by William Knight.

      Holdings

      Held at: State Records, NSW
      Note:
      Holding details : Colonial Secretary Correspondence ; play enclosure (44/4164) ; covering letter (44/4164 in 4/2653.5) ; play at (SZ51 A and B) ; microfilm copy of play (SR Reel 29) ; photocopy at City (COD108).
      .
      (Manuscript) assertion

      Holdings

      Held at: University of Queensland University of Queensland Library Fryer Library
      Local Id: b20807326 H0620C
      Note:
      Handwritten annotations throughout

Works about this Work

Australia Crossed-Over : Images of Cross-Dressing in Australian Art Elizabeth McMahon , 1997 single work criticism
— Appears in: Art And Australia , vol. 34 no. 3 1997; (p. 372-379)
McMahon discusses the way in which 'from the early colonial period, transvestism has been deployed as a central motif or conceit in Australian visual art, photography and film, as well as in ballads, literary narratives and drama (p.374).
The Melodrama of Defeat: Political Patterns in Some Colonial and Contemporary Australian Plays Veronica Kelly , 1990 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , June vol. 50 no. 2 1990; (p. 131-143) The AustLit Anthology of Criticism 2010; (p. 20)
Delightful Success That Pivots on a Twist of Casting Bob Evans , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 28 August 1989; (p. 14)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
G(u)ilt-Edged Theatre Suzanne Olb , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Review , September no. 16 1989; (p. 21)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Intriguing But Mawkish Rosemary Neill , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 28 August 1989; (p. 11)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
y Australia on the Popular Stage 1829-1929 Margaret Williams , Melbourne : Oxford University Press , 1983 Z922827 1983 selected work
Untitled David Gyger , 1977 single work review
— Appears in: 24 Hours , vol. 2 no. 3 1977; (p. 51)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Between-Scenes Reading Elizabeth Riddell , 1976 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 26 June 1976; (p. 28)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Books: Pictures and Plays Helen Van der Poorten , 1976 single work review
— Appears in: Theatre Australia , August-September vol. 1 no. 1 1976; (p. 52)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Books 1976 single work review
— Appears in: Theatrescope , no. 2 1976; (p. 26)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
y The Making of Australian Drama : A Historical and Critical Survey from the 1830s to the 1970s Leslie Rees , Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1973 Z498506 1973 single work criticism
Many-Sided Dylan Madeleine Haydon , 1966 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 15 October vol. 88 no. 4519 1966; (p. 56)

— Review of I've Come About the Assassination Tony Morphett 1966 single work drama ; The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre ; The Pier Michael Thomas 1970 single work drama
The Experiment in Jane Street H. G. Kippax , 1966 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 3 October 1966; (p. 7)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Yuk and the Assassins Keith Thomas , 1966 single work review
— Appears in: Nation , 15 October 1966; (p. 17-18)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
New Colonial Play 1844 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 30 May 1844; (p. 311)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
New Colonial Play 1844 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 30 May 1844; (p. 311)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Many-Sided Dylan Madeleine Haydon , 1966 single work review
— Appears in: The Bulletin , 15 October vol. 88 no. 4519 1966; (p. 56)

— Review of I've Come About the Assassination Tony Morphett 1966 single work drama ; The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre ; The Pier Michael Thomas 1970 single work drama
The Experiment in Jane Street H. G. Kippax , 1966 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 3 October 1966; (p. 7)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Yuk and the Assassins Keith Thomas , 1966 single work review
— Appears in: Nation , 15 October 1966; (p. 17-18)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Delightful Success That Pivots on a Twist of Casting Bob Evans , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 28 August 1989; (p. 14)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
G(u)ilt-Edged Theatre Suzanne Olb , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: The Sydney Review , September no. 16 1989; (p. 21)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Intriguing But Mawkish Rosemary Neill , 1989 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 28 August 1989; (p. 11)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Between-Scenes Reading Elizabeth Riddell , 1976 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian , 26 June 1976; (p. 28)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Books: Pictures and Plays Helen Van der Poorten , 1976 single work review
— Appears in: Theatre Australia , August-September vol. 1 no. 1 1976; (p. 52)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Books 1976 single work review
— Appears in: Theatrescope , no. 2 1976; (p. 26)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Untitled David Gyger , 1977 single work review
— Appears in: 24 Hours , vol. 2 no. 3 1977; (p. 51)

— Review of The Currency Lass ; Or, My Native Girl Edward Geoghegan 1844 single work musical theatre
Australia Crossed-Over : Images of Cross-Dressing in Australian Art Elizabeth McMahon , 1997 single work criticism
— Appears in: Art And Australia , vol. 34 no. 3 1997; (p. 372-379)
McMahon discusses the way in which 'from the early colonial period, transvestism has been deployed as a central motif or conceit in Australian visual art, photography and film, as well as in ballads, literary narratives and drama (p.374).
The Melodrama of Defeat: Political Patterns in Some Colonial and Contemporary Australian Plays Veronica Kelly , 1990 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southerly , June vol. 50 no. 2 1990; (p. 131-143) The AustLit Anthology of Criticism 2010; (p. 20)
y The Making of Australian Drama : A Historical and Critical Survey from the 1830s to the 1970s Leslie Rees , Sydney : Angus and Robertson , 1973 Z498506 1973 single work criticism
y Australia on the Popular Stage 1829-1929 Margaret Williams , Melbourne : Oxford University Press , 1983 Z922827 1983 selected work
Last amended 12 Oct 2016 15:59:16
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