Barbara & Barry bring love and laughter to regional WA

Barbara & Barry bring love and laughter to regional WA

Jon Solmundson

Retro love gurus Barbara & Barry brought a vintage touch to regional WA this past month as their Sweet, Sour & Saucy cabaret show swept through 15 communities presented by Shows on the Go with Act-Belong-Commit.

Barbara & Barry charming the audience in Jurien Bay. Photo: Janie Davidson.

The duo traversed the Wheatbelt, Goldfields-Esperance, Great Southern, South West and Mid West regions as a part of the Shows on the Go program, also hosting 11 workshops and travelling a total of 4,283.5 KMs in just under 5 weeks.

Their Sweet, Sour & Saucy show is as diverse as it gets. Part-cabaret, part-improv and part-throwback radio show, Barbara & Barry serenaded audiences with a series of classic numbers about romance, marriage and the bumps on the road one encounters along the way.

Before the tour began in the Wheatbelt town of Beverley, Barbara & Barry held a workshop for a dozen eager singers at the Beverley Station Gallery, guiding them in developing their vocal technique, improvisational skills and creative expression.

Barbara & Barry lead a group of Beverley residents in a singing workshop. Photo: Janie Davidson.

In Esperance, the show brought members of the local community together and encouraged everyone to be part of the show by donning their finest frocks and suavest suits – with a little help from the local op shop’s vintage section – each of them vying for a photo shoot with a local photographer. The fabulously dressed winner of the competition – who certainly earned victory with her illustrious attire – was generous enough to offer her prize to a young girl in attendance.

The finest frock winner in Esperance poses with her prize, Barry and two other attendees from the show.

Residents from Kojonup and Katanning had a chance to get a little closer in the middle of the tour. The Kojonup Southern Singers – a longstanding choir group in the area – travelled east to attend Barbara & Barry’s workshop, before gathering a convoy of Kojonupurians to attend that evening’s performance at the Katanning Town Hall, where they expressed their admiration for a refreshing performance, Barbara & Barry’s penchant for old songs and “some saucy percussion action.”

Participants were equally receptive at a workshop the day in Northcliffe’s Painted Tree Gallery, where a group of 14 enthusiastic singers honed their craft under the tutelage of Barbara & Barry, summing up the experience as exhilarating, inspired, fun and happy. The ways in which workshop participants encouraged one another and found their voices through collaboration and engagement prove how strong connections with family, friends and the broader community are essential ingredients to maintaining mental health.

Monique Boucher, Country Arts WA’s Performing Arts Touring Officer, attended the performance in Harvey on 19 August, singing the praises of the duo’s formidable performance.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It was wonderful to see so many people out on a Saturday night laughing, singing and having such a great time together. The atmosphere was brilliant in the cabaret style seating, with people sharing snacks, stories and laughs with their friends, partners and families. The love theme was evident with the heart-shaped cards from Act-Belong-Commit scattered on the tables for people to fill in their own love stories. The night culminated in a local Harvey couple reigniting their love onstage with Barbara and Barry, after being married over 50 years. Totally loved the whole night!

Meanwhile, in Narrogin: the audience hold up their love story cards at the packed-out Narrogin Town Hall. Photo: Janie Davidson.

The Shows on the Go program is presented by Country Arts WA and Healthway, promoting the Mentally Healthy WA campaign message, Act-Belong-Commit. Though Barbara & Barry’s cabaret show certainly highlights the differences one can have in a relationship, the underlining story is one of trust, love and commitment – after all, Barbara and Barry are a real-life couple when they leave the stage. The positive outcomes of the workshops throughout regional WA,

Having strong connections with friends, family and the wider community is an essential ingredient for staying mentally healthy’

Attendees were encouraged to share their love story on a pledge wall that traveled from town to town, expressing appreciation for the loved ones in their lives that make it easier to get through hard times – be it partners, parents, kids, extended family, pets, friends or the local community.

Love stories from Coorow. Photo: Janie Davidson.

Residents from each town came out in droves to tell tales of romance, family and friendship – some sweet, some hilarious and all heartwarming.

Love stories from Northcliffe. Photo: Janie Davidson.

“Had a crush on a boy in year 5, now we have been together for 11 years with 2 beautiful kids. Muka Love.”

“We met at a regular school dance I was 12 he was 15, he called me Blue and 43 years later we are still true.”

“I married the boy next door (200km away), still married 27 years later with 2 adult children.”

“Met my husband at a play. He’s never been to another one until today. Celebrating 30 years this year. PS: All of Me is our song.”

An audience member places her love story on the wall in Jurien Bay. Photo: Janie Davidson.

“My grandma is my rock. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for her.”

“I ran out of fuel in Sandstone and am married to the station hand I met there… It’s been 16 years!”

“A loved one who makes me happy is my 91 year old grandmother. Still makes me laugh!”

Barbara, Barry and a staff member from Narembeen pose with the Share Your Love Story cards. Photo: Janie Davidson.

Shows on the Go returns in 2018. To stay up to date, head to the Shows on the Go page.

If you’re looking for tips on how to stay mentally healthy and active in your local community, visit the Act-Belong-Commit website.

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