The Hatpin

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The Hatpin
The Hatpin CD.jpg
Original cast recording cover
Music Peter Rutherford
Lyrics James Millar
Book James Millar
Productions 2008 Sydney
2008 NYMF
2011 Melbourne Magnormos
Awards 2009 Sydney Theatre Awards

The Hatpin is a musical theatre production inspired by the true story of Amber Murray who in 1892 gave up her son to the Makin family in Sydney, Australia. Written and developed in 2006–2007, by James Millar (book and lyrics) and Peter Rutherford (composer), The Hatpin opened at the Seymour Centre in Sydney on 27 February 2008. The original Australian production starred Peter Cousens, Caroline O'Connor, Barry Crocker, and Melle Stewart.[1]

The Hatpin made its US premiere on 15 September 2008 at the American Theatre of Actors in the Chernuchin Theatre as a participant of the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Caroline O'Connor followed The Hatpin overseas to reprise her role of Harriet Piper, as did Gemma-Ashley Kaplan, who returned to play Clara Makin.[2]

In 2011 The Hatpin made its Melbourne premiere with Magnormos at Theatre Works, St. Kilda directed by Shaun Kingma with musical direction by Sophie Thomas. The cast included Samantha Morley as Harriet Piper, Philip Gould as Charles Makin, Sophie Collins as Agatha Makin, Emma Jones as Clara Makin, and Gemma-Ashley Kaplan who this time played the role of Amber Murray.[3]

The West Australian premiere of The Hatpin took place at South Perth's Old Mill Theatre in July, 2014 (


The Hatpin is the true story of a single mother, Amber Murray, who advertised her baby in a newspaper trading column in the hope of saving his life. Baby farmers take the child in return for regular support payments, but in fact murder the child. Eventually the evil couple are arrested and tried for the murder of several infants - leading to one of the most moving criminal trials in Australian history. Using the moral support she gains from her friendship with the free spirited Harriet Piper, Amber fights the injustices of circumstance and tragedy to find hope and strength.

Original cast[edit]

  • Melle Stewart as Amber Murray
  • Caroline O'Connor as Harriet Piper
  • Michelle Doake as Agatha Makin
  • Gemma-Ashley Kaplan as Clara Makin
  • Peter Cousens as Charlie Makin
  • Tyran Parke as Edward Cleary
  • Barry Crocker AM as James Hanoney/Justice Stephen
  • Jennifer Peers as Minnie Davis
  • Octavia Barron-Martin as Marianne Leonard
  • Jodie Harris as Rebecca Rigby
  • Nick Christo as Thomas Williamson/James Joyce

Musical numbers[edit]

  • Overture - Orchestra
  • Hymn - Cast
  • Twisted Little Town - Cast
  • Puddles - Amber
  • Work - Cast and Harriet
  • Bad Fruit - Amber and Harriet
  • Knock Knock Knock - Cast
  • Enough - Amber
  • Gathering Sirens - Cast and Amber
  • Steal Away - Charlie
  • The Hand of Courage - Amber and Harriet
  • These Things - Cast
  • Digging Up - Cast and James
  • So Much More Than Me - Amber
  • Why Did I Give Him Away? - Cast and Amber
  • Sail - Harriet and Clara
  • Something Like Being a Mother - Harriet
  • Natural Causes - Cast
  • The Hatpin - Clara
  • The Verdict - Cast and Justice Stephen
  • Holding You - Amber and Harriet
  • A Tiny Glow/Sail Reprise - Cast

A cast album was released in 2008 by Neil Gooding Productions with the support of Kookaburra: The National Musical Theatre Company.[4]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2009 Sydney Theatre Awards[5]
    • Best New Australian Work (nominee)
    • Best Actress in a Musical - Michelle Doake (winner)
    • Best Actress in a Musical - Gemma-Ashley Kaplan (nominee)


  1. ^ Brett Casben (1 March 2008). "The Hatpin". Australian Stage. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Hatpin Review". 17 September 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  3. ^ Kate Herbert (20 May 2011). "Review: The Hatpin, Magnormos". Herald Sun. Retrieved 29 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "The Hatpin / music [by] Peter Rutherford ; book & lyrics [by] James Millar.". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  5. ^

External links[edit]