A new musical about rebellious ladies and the Great War. Winner of "Best New Australian Work", Matilda Awards 2020.

In short

A new musical about rebellious ladies and the Great War. Winner of "Best New Australian Work", Matilda Awards 2020.

Cast size: 7

Band size: 3

Musical style: Rock, Folk, Australian Pop

The Story

A group of Australian, New Zealand and British women try to join the army. When they're told no, they decide to go anyway.

An untold true story.

The Characters

Dr Agnes Bennett is a prudish, compassionate spinster from New Zealand.

Dr Lilian Cooper is a smoking, swearing lesbian surgeon from Brisbane.

This unlikely pair create the first woman-run hospital on the front line: they design their own uniforms, pay for their own ambulances, and simply go to war.

Joining them are upper-class English girls who volunteer to drive the ambulances. Seeking adventure and romance, these cheeky girls come into hysterical conflict with our Aussies and Kiwis!

However, against the odds, this discordant team build the best hospital at the front. Wounded soldiers try to bribe their way in; while male doctors gather at the hospital to observe the brilliant surgeon Dr Cooper.

But powerful forces threaten to destroy everything the women have created.

How far will the women go to defend their hospital?

Venue Format
Theatre, Hall, Black Box Venue
Technical Rating
Touring Party
  • No adult/blue content, but the eccentric Dr Lilian Cooper swears occasionally (when it's called for!)
  • The sound of explosions and gunfire might frighten younger children.
  • Show uses existing standard lighting rig.
  • One venue crew is requested to run lighting. (The show will be called by our stage manager.)
  • If performing in a hall or black box, the production requires: a standard lighting rig; wings; a crossover; dressing room/backstage area for performers.
  • Lighting permitting, the show can also be performed on the floor of a hall for a more intimate performance - talk to us about how this works.
  • Can be staged in a proscenium or thrust format.

Musical Theatre Australia was formed in 2018. This company creates and produces new Australian musical theatre that celebrates diversity and untold histories.

The company was founded by couple (in life as well as in work) Katy Forde and Aleathea Monsour. These women have written several musicals together, including "A Girl's Guide to World War", which won the major Matilda Award “Lord Mayor’s Award for Best New Australian Work” in 2020. The musical also enjoyed three sell-out seasons in 2018 and 2019, and will be performed in 2022 at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The musical is also in production as an exciting new podcast, funded by the Sunshine Coast Regional Arts Development Fund.

Aleathea and Katy won the year-long BizArts Makers Scholarship in Brisbane and the OzMade Musicals workshopping program in Melbourne. Katy received the Lord Mayor’s Helen Taylor Award which allowed her to research the life of Dr Lilian Cooper, Australia’s first female surgeon. The result of this research is published online and has attracted interest from around the world, including a 2018 BBC radio documentary about Dr Cooper’s life.

Other musicals include "Lottie" about Australia's first silent film star, and "Volition" about the Melbourne Gaol.

Company Website

Unique Selling Point

  • Rigor/Quality - "A Girl's Guide to World War" took home the major award at the 2020 Matilda Awards, winning "Best New Australian Work". Susie French won "Best Supporting Actress" for her riotous portrayal of Queensland surgeon, Dr Lilian Cooper.

  • Distinctiveness - "A Girl's Guide to World War" is a true musical theatre event. Audiences will laugh, cry and rise to standing ovations. This production proves new musicals can be enjoyed outside of the big cities.

  • Appeal - This show will appeal to women of all ages as a "girls night out" , as well as to couples and families with teenage kids.

Marketing Materials

  • Podcast - A musical podcast version of the show will soon be available and can be used by presenters to build excitement in the live version. This podcast, funded by the Sunshine Coast Regional Arts Development Fund, will be promoted by QNews via its 50,000+ unique website visitors; and its 19 000 facebook and 16 000 instagram followers.
  • Poster - eye-catching poster at various sizes
  • Promo footage and enthusiastic post-show audience vox pops
  • Images
  • Marketing copy
  • Pre-written social media posts.

Note: The show has a three week season at the Brisbane Powerhouse in February 2022. Presenters are invited to attend. Email Katy at katy.forde@gmail.com for comps.

Community Engagement

Join the chorus! – a musical theatre workshop

Six to eight weeks before “A Girl’s Guide” hits town, award-winning actor and voice teacher Susie French will teach a local choir two songs from the show. Some choristers are enrolled as WW1 nurses; others as Serbian soldiers. (Note: Choirs can include local community choirs or secondary school choirs.)

Time is allocated for a Q&A about life in musical theatre.

Over the intervening weeks, participants have website access to recordings, sheet music etc, so they can practise independently.

When the show hits town, Susie provides one more rehearsal, and invites the choir onto the stage to explain their participation in the performance.

During the performance, the choir will join in at two important points in the narrative. (Participants will be provided with nurses caps/Serbian soldier caps, which they will don at the appropriate times!)

Cultural legacy: Participants gain a more deeper engagement in the arts, discover how songs move narrative, and connect with the powerful themes of this Australian story.

Note: The producer will work with the promoter to identify an appropriate number of participants.

Other opportunities

Other engagements include:

  • online research tutorial conducted by the show's creators
  • after-show cast QA.