EMC:Carleton Place native presents musical comedy at Montreal Fringe Festival

Publish date: 
23 June 2011
Tara Gesner
News body: 

EMC News - Carleton Place native Julie Lyn Barber was "so excited" to bring Madwomen's Late-Nite Cabaret, her new musical comedy to the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. It was selected for presentation.

Madwomen's Late-Nite Cabaret was performed at Cabaret Mile End, located at 5240 Avenue du Parc. The festival ran from May 30 to June 19.

"We knew very early that we were selected," says Barber. "It is a lottery process, but we made it in on the early bird application."

The playwright grew up in Carleton Place where she attended school. After completing Grade 13, Barber left for college. She earned a degree in music from the University of British Columbia, before receiving a Master's Degree in Music Theatre from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. This fall, she begins doctoral studies in vocal performance at Ball State University.

"I now live in rural Indiana on the family farm of my husband (Darrin Murrell) - the perfect place to rear our two children," says Barber. "The town is Parker City."

She boasts a very diverse background - soprano, dancer, actor, director, choreographer, teacher and playwright.

"I studied ballet all my life, which is actually how I first got into musical theatre - as a dancer," says Barber.

"I love variety and I love learning new things," she adds. "As a professional theatre artist it is very helpful to be able to do a lot of different things. That way I can be involved with three shows at once - performing in one on weekend evenings, directing another during the days, and choreographing a third during weekday nights. Of course, play-writing can happen anytime and anywhere."

In addition, Barber teaches music and theatre at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.

She has won numerous awards for acting and received an Astral Career Grant from the National Association for the Advancement of the Arts to attend the Vancouver Baroque Vocal Institute.


Madwomen's Late-Nite Cabaret is a "quick-change cabaret show" that features more than a dozen characters, including Joan of Arc, Marie Antoinette, Medusa and Sybil. The cast is rounded out by "Ethel Merman" as emcee and "Lizzie Borden" at the piano.

"I play Procne, Mary Queen of Scots, Typhoid Mary, Amelia Earhart and Sybil," says Barber.

The characters sing classic cabaret songs paired with comic effect. For example, Joan of Arc sings 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes', Medusa sings 'Hair', and Sybil sings 'I Am My Own Best Friend'.

"I think the inspiration for the play was the concept of Joan of Arc singing 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes'," says Barber. "Then it became like a game to find the funniest pairings of women and songs."

Madwomen's Late-Nite Cabaret is intended as a celebration of women, and "what makes the show work is the superimposition of strong, familiar characters over really great cabaret singing."

Barber explains the show began as a companion to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. "I was with a company that was renting space by the night, so we decided to do a lighter piece that involved singing. That was in Portland, Oregon in 2000."

A big hit with the audience, she developed it further in 2006. The 60-minute script was entered in the annual juried festival, DivaFest in 2010.

"It won a spot there and was invited to be part of the Indianapolis Fringe Fest as well," says Barber. "This year I earned a spot at DivaFest for Tamlane, my 10-minute play.

Tamlane is "a cheeky re-telling of a Scottish Ballad" in which Tamlane must be saved from the Elfin Queen by his true love, Burd Janet.


"I am writing a couple of pantos for the upcoming season that will play at a number of different venues around Indiana," says Barber. "They are not at all accustomed to the panto style of theatre, so it's sort of an introduction to the style."

In August, she and her husband will be performing at the Indianapolis Fringe Festival in a production of Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs.

"I also sing with a band, Main Street Jazz, and we have some gigs in July," says Barber, "and one is at the Gennett Mansion in Indiana."

For more information about Barber, visit julielynbarber.com.