Laurel Martyn created The Sentimental Bloke for her company, Ballet Guild, in 1952. It premiered in Melbourne at Ballet Guild's Studio Theatre, 420 Bourke Street, on 14 March with Martyn as Doreen, Geoffrey Ingram as the Bloke (Bill) and Harry Leitch as Ginger Mick. During that initial season Tamara des Fontaines also danced Doreen and Reg Bartram appeared as Bill.
Based on C. J. Dennis' poems The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke Martyn's work had an original score by John Tallis and designs by Charles Bush after Hal Gye's original larrikin-cherub illustrations for the Dennis poems. Shortly after its inaugural performance Martyn had to withdraw the ballet as another composer, Albert Arlen, had bought the rights to produce a show based on the C. J. Dennis verses. Arlen's rights did not extend to television, however, and in April 1963 the ballet was reworked and newly designed for ABC Television. It featured Jack Manuel as Bill and Carolyn Harrison as Doreen.
The Australian Ballet premiered its version of The Sentimental Bloke, with choreography by Robert Ray, on 8 May 1985 at the Sydney Opera House. It featured the music of Albert Arlen, freely arranged, adapted and orchestrated by John Lanchbery. This production was based on Arlen's interpretation of the Dennis poems as featured in the musical play The Sentimental Bloke by Arlen, Nancy Brown and Lloyd Thomson. It was designed by Kenneth Rowell and lit by William Akers. The original cast included Steven Heathcote as Bill, Christine Walsh as Doreen, Mark Annear as Ginger Mick, Elizabeth Toohey as Rose, David McAllister as Mr Smithers and Edna Edgley as Mar.
Bibliography:Geoffrey Ingram, 'Dancing the Bloke', Brolga, 4 (June 1996), pp. 33-36, and other articles in Brolga 4, a special issue in honour of Laurel Martyn.
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A selection of press articles from various Australian newspapers relating to Martyn's career, including articles on her involvement with Ballet Victoria, Children's Dance Theatre and the Australian Ballet's production of The Sentimental Bloke.