No Stranger

Essential Theatre PresentsA Stranger in TownA Musical Fable
27 October – 13 November ?fortyfivedownstairs Bookings HYPERLINK “”, 9662 9966
Written by Christine Croyden // Directed by Alice Bishop // Actors & Collaborators Amanda LaBonte, Sophie Lampel, Jamie McDonald & Drew Tingwell //Original Score and Musical Direction by Matt Lotherington
Essential Theatre will present A Stranger in Town: A Musical Fable at fortyfivedownstairs this October.  Exploring universal themes of immigration, belonging, love and the battle between escaping or facing up to your past, this new Australian work was inspired by recordings of the musical diaries of Artistic Director Sophie Lampel’s grandfather Otto Lampel, which were given to her when she was 19.
Otto Lampel was a Czechoslovakian Jew born in Prague in 1909, who fled before the start of World War II to London, the sole survivor of his family. Otto married twice, wrote music and performed at the Royal Albert Hall.  In the late 1940’s he travelled to Canada where the original musical diary of his life, part spoken word, part song, A Stranger in Town,  was performed live over 16 weeks in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Montreal Studios. Using these recordings as a basis, Essential Theatre has created a fictional tale exploring some of the significant themes in Otto’s diary.
Seventy years on, Otto’s musings provide a valuable insight into the thoughts and experiences of an immigrant of post-war Europe and his hopes of a new beginning.  
Sophie Lampel said “When I was given the tapes of the recordings I felt such a connection. It was a link to my family history and to my desire to be a performer.  My father is a gifted public speaker and performer and to think that his father was also a performer made me feel there was some sort of genetic link in the chain. I am fascinated by the fact that my Grandfather Otto was born in Prague in 1909, my father was born in France in 1939 and I was born in Moe in 1974. That is quite a journey.”
Otto Lampel led a rich and intriguing life. He spoke nine languages, travelled widely, worked for the Belgium Government as a consultant in international affairs and was even rumoured by the family to have been MI6. In the bibliography of renowned children’s author Eleanor Farjeon there is a whole chapter dedicated to Otto and his “charm, talent and smooth manners.” 
Founded in 1997 by Artistic Directors Amanda LaBonte and Sophie Lampel, Essential Theatre is an independent Australian company best known for Shakespeare in the Vines, national tours of Shakespeare’s comedies to some of Australia’s finest wineries.

Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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