Saturday, May 18th, 2013
COMEDY, corruption and sexy 1940s charm come to the Old Mill Theatre this June in the play Born Yesterday.

Written by Garson Kanin – responsible for many Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn films – it follows the uncouth, corrupt and rich junk dealer Harry Brock and what happens when he brings his showgirl mistress Billie Dawn to Washington DC.

After realising it was a mistake, Brock hires a journalist to educate Billie so she stays out of the way, which proves to be another misstep.

Billie becomes aware of Brock’s corruption and interferes with his plans to bribe a congressman into passing legislation that would allow his business to make more money.

After being a major Broadway success, Born Yesterday was adapted into a 1950 film with Judy Holliday who scored an Academy Award for playing Billie.

The play experienced successful Broadway revivals in 1989 and 2011 and was again made into a film in 1993 with Melanie Griffith, John Goodman and Don Johnson.

Director Noel O’Neill said Born Yesterday appealed to him because of its themes of corruption within a comedy.

“I like the comedic brute force and ignorance of the Harry Brock character and the Pygmalion-esque quality of Billie Dawn,” he said.

“For those that don’t know, Pygmalion is a George Bernard Shaw play the musical My Fair Lady was based on and Billie has a similar Eliza Doolittle transformation.”

Born in Ireland, O’Neill moved to New York in his late teens and studied acting with Lee Strasberg and Herbert Berghof, appearing in many off-Broadway productions including One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Of Mice and Men.

Since moving to Perth 12 years ago, he has appeared on stage and directed and written numerous shows for the Old Mill and KADS Theatres, Graduate Dramatic Society and the Irish Theatre Players.

O’Neill has won numerous awards for writing, directing and currently lectures for the WA Academy of Performing Arts and Perth Actors’ Collective, also writing and directing the Old Mill Theatre’s most recent show No Bed of Roses.

“The main challenge with Born Yesterday is taking the actors back to the 1940s and early 1950s because the characters are the sort we rarely see today and the dialogue is different,” he said.

“The play also demands lots of energy from the actors because they are all very well-written character roles.”

Born Yesterday plays at 8pm, May 31, June 1, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15 with a 2pm matinee June 9. Tickets are $25, $20 concession – book on (08) 9367 8719, [email protected] or online at

The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on Mends Street, South Perth, opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post.


by1: Britni Leslie is showgirl mistress Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday this June.

by2: Corrupt junk deal Harry Brock (Adam Peterson) realises taking his showgirl mistress Billie Dawn (Britni Leslie) to Washington DC was a mistake in Born Yesterday.

by3: Journalist Paul Verrall (Robert Ross) has the task of educating Billie Dawn (Britni Leslie) in Born Yesterday.

by4: Corrupt junk deal Harry Brock (Adam Peterson, left) comes to blows with his showgirl mistress Billie Dawn (Britni Leslie, right) in front of hotel maid Helen (Valerie Dragojevic).

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Old Mill Theatre

South Perth's Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to be operating out of one of the most historic buildings in South Perth. It was opened in 1899 as a Mechanics' Institute Hall. The South Perth Council purchased the building in 1913 and renamed it the Mends Street Hall. The council still owns the building, and supports our use of it.

The building first became a home of theatre in 1948, when the South Perth Dramatic Society moved in. The name Old Mill Theatre was first used in 1958, and the company was incorporated in 1959. In 2009, the theatre celebrated its 60th anniversary.

A number of significant changes to the building have occurred over the past few years, with major extensions completed in 2002. An understage tunnel, which links two backstage dressing rooms and enables easier access from one side of the stage to the other, was completed in 2008. Bathroom facilities have also been installed backstage as part of this project, which was wholly self-funded.

The Old Mill Theatre is fortunate to have strong support from its local council, the City of South Perth. The city undertook major renovations to the exterior of the building in 2008 and the theatre is looking better now than ever before.
Noel O’Neill
P: 0419 954 353


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