Sunday Mail Adelaide 21/06/2009
The Carpenters from Kempsey- Dunstan Playhouse June 19

In short: Top Of The World. 4/5 Stars

IF Richie Benaud and Pasty Bisco want to know where their hair is, their follicles are starring every night in this superbly silly show. Darren Mapes has the perfect Richie rug and Susie Dunn the ideal Patsy long mop on their heads. They also have a wonderful hit on their hands. Mapes and showbiz veteran Linda Nagle have created a fabulous show that could do with a much longer season here.

Mapes and Dunn play a hicktown brother and sister act - Darren and Sharon - who say they're from Kempsey, but their voices are from heaven. Mapes is very funny as dazzling Darren, a terrific pianist, and the ideal foil to Dunn's gawky, squawky Sharon.
Their patter is hysterical, but the voices are unbelievable. Dunn may actually be channelling the golden vocals of Karen Carpenter.

 

Story for Arts Hub Newsletter June 2006
The Carpenters From Kempsey by Darren Mapes

I first started a different version of this show almost 7 years ago. It was called The Carpenters Once More. This was more of a straight tribute show. We dressed up as Karen & Richard and did a bit of a retrospective on their lives. Shirley Thomas’ played Karen and was the instigator of this crazy project.

Shirley was possibly one of the most amazing singers I had ever come across. She was so consistent and indeed sounded almost exactly like Karen Carpenter. When recorded it was sometimes difficult to tell the difference between her and the real Karen. The Carpenters Once More performed at many different events, venues and corporate functions. The highlights of these would have to be the Taylor Square Christmas carols, where some 6000 people turned out to sing-a-long with the Carpenters, and also the closing ceremony of the Gay Games at fox studios, with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir. The show was well on its way to success when Shirley was diagnosed with Colon Cancer.

Gigs and work had to be put on hold as we came to grips with Shirley’s illness. She had two sons and a devoted husband, and in spite of her prognosis she remained ever optimistic and positive. Shirley and I got together to rehearse almost every Friday. It was always good to catch up, have a chat and a sing. As her health worsened it was also great therapy for her. Shirley’s cancer gradually spread and although badly affected by side-effects from treatments she never complained. Sadly in November 2004 Shirley lost her battle with cancer. Ironically just like Karen Carpenter, her life had been cut short.

While I loved working with Shirl, and performing the Carpenters songs I was never entirely comfortable with doing a straight tribute show. While people did seem to enjoy it, it was evident to me that many of the songs were “downers” and that Karen & Richard’s lives had been somewhat tragic. I invited my dear friend and business partner Linda Nagle along to see the show, and if she could come up with any bright ideas as to how to make the show more “fun”.

Linda is well-known for her writing and performing credits with the Sydney Theatre company revues. We had met while doing a revue together, along with Maggie Dense at the Tilbury Hotel. We have been mates ever since, and for the past four years have had a singing school together – Sing Over King. Linda immediately came up with the idea of “The Carpenters From Kempsey”. We ran the idea by Shirley, who agreed that it sounded like a lot of fun, and so Linda and I set about writing the show. Unfortunately Shirley became ill not long after the script was finished, so we never got to perform the new show together.

Last year I finally decided that it was time to get the “Carpenters From Kempsey” on the road. I spoke to Colin (Shirley’s Husband) about how he felt about me doing the show again, and he agreed that it was time, and that it was a waste of a good show, not to get it up.

Many friends had told me about Lisa Adam and what an amazing talent she was. I called her up, we had lunch over a glass of wine (we both like a drink) and hit it off instantly. We got together and had a read through the script and laughed and laughed. We both agreed (and hoped) that if the audience found it half as funny as we did then we were on to something. Lisa also spent many hours listening and perfecting her Karen Carpenter Sound, and her character “Sharon Carpenter” still makes me laugh every-time we rehearse. We launched our show at Statement Bar in Oct last year. The show was an instant sell-out and we had to extend our season. Since then we have performed at Star City – Legends concert for OZ showbiz cares, numerous corporate functions, and an 8-week season at Yipeeyiyo restaurant in Darlinghurst. We are delighted and excited to be part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and perform on the 23rd and 24th June.

Darren & Sharon Carpenter and twins, born six months apart, from Kempsey. They never really fitted in to life on the farm, and were hopeless at just about everything until that magical day they discovered those “Other Carpenters”. Not only did they look similar, but they shared a family name. Darren & Sharon have hit the road singing all the songs those other Carpenters made famous, Close To You, Yesterday Once More, Ticket to Ride, Calling Occupants, Rainy Days and Monday’s and many more.


 


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