Hilary Cole shines in her one woman show O.C. DIVA at the Hayes Theatre
Hilary Cole shines in her one woman show O.C. DIVA at the Hayes Theatre

Since her arrival in Sydney last year talented young diva Hilary Cole has impressed theatre music afficianados with stand-out performances in the leading role of two productions, CARRIE and THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, both by the highly regarded Squabbalogic Theatre Company.

In the last week of the CHAPERONE season, back in early April, the Hayes theatre offered her a three Sunday night spot, as the space had suddenly become free. Keen to further her career, Hilary jumped at the opportunity.

The result is her show O.C.DIVA. I caught up with Hilary in the week before opening and she revealed that it had been quite a journey getting the show up. There had been a lot of pressures involved; a very narrow time frame to work within, Hilary had never written a piece for performance before, and as an actress she has always felt comfortable playing different characters but playing herself would be something all together different.

One would never have suspected any of these behind the scenes pressures after seeing Hilary’s accomplished opening night performance.

The show started with piano player, and music director Steven Kreamer, on stage and introducing the young diva who came out on stage in a slinky, silvery backless gown.

During the hour long set, Hilary performed some twelve songs including four Stephen Sondheim songs, as well as songs by contemporary pop artists such as Beyonce and PINK. She was in fine voice. My personal favourites were here poignant, telling renditions of Georgia Stilt’s The Wanting Of You, Stephen Sondheim’s Losing My Mind from the musical Follies, and a lovely, version of Bill from the musical Showboat. Hilary gave the song a personal touch, ‘dedicating’ the song to the peaceful, uncomplicated relationship that she is sharing with her current partner.

Another highlight, on a much lighter note, was a hilarious impersonation of American entertainer Bernadette Peter’s rendition of Sondheim’s classic ‘Being Alive’, complete with plenty of facial and vocal contortions.

During the show Hilary revealed glimpses into  her own story and personality: She has always wanted to be a singer. She carries in her head a large database of songs that she can turn to, if she needs to. When she is singing, that is when she feels the best.

Like many others she is a huge fun of Tolkien’s Hobbit trilogy. As per the show’s title, she has an obsessive personality which she often finds herself tangled up in. One of her big obsessions is the Rubik’s cube which she has been doing for many years, even when she is waiting at auditions. It helps her to relax. (Not quite the effect that it has one me!). She can solve the puzzle of the cube in just one minute.

Hilary ended the show on an appropriately clever note, returning to her favourite cube: ”No matter how mixed up the cube gets, one can always solve it.’

Verdict. I must admit to a bias. I love the genre- With these pieces, one gets the best of the worlds…seeing a talented artist perform their shtick and, as well, one gets some insights into the person behind the artist

There are two more performances of O.C.DIVA at the Hayes Theatre, 19 Greenknowe Avenue, Darlinghurst – this Sunday evening at 6.30pm and then the final performance on Sunday 29th June at 8.30pm. Well worth a visit!