Music & Lyrics by Yve Blake
Directed by Paige Rattray. Designer David Fleischer Original Music Director / Vocal Arranger Alice Chance Music Producer / Sound Designer David Muratore Co-production with Belvoir, Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival, in association with Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) Adelaide Festival. Ridley Centre, Adelaide Showground Thu 27 Feb – 14 Mar 2021
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
“Why?” I asked myself. Why would a company with the esteemed reputation for producing serious works stage a glossy, Dolly magazine musical fantasy about a pubescent teenager with an obsessive passion for a teenybopper pop star? The answer becomes clear as Fangirls unfolds before a packed audience at the Ridley Theatre at Adelaide’s Wayville Showgrounds.
The story of Edna (Karis Oka ) an only child of a single
parent Caroline (Sharon Millerchip) is the stuff of “That’s me theatre”. Any
teenage girl or woman who has been and experienced the agony of love-struck
obsession will identify with girls like Edna, Brie (Shubshri Kandiah )
tormented by body image or Jules (Chika Icogwe( ) with a weight complex or
Edna’s friend Saltypringl (James Majoos ), coming to terms with being gay. Gay
or straight, guy or girl Fangirls
will strike a chord. There is nothing new about the plights of these teenagers,
nor their fears, dreams, and desires. Last century they swooned at Sinatra,
melted at Presley, threw knickers at Tom Jones and screamed at the Beatles.
Then came Justin Bieber and One Direction. It was ever thus. Only the times are a changing and with it the
obsession with social media and smart phones that play a central role in the
characters’ lives. Everything is faster, slicker, quicker, louder and Belvoir’s
production of Fangirls is a fantasy
teenchick saga of an old condition in a new age.
|Photo by Brett Boardman
Belvoir’s excellent cast burst with the vitality of youth to the blaring sound of Yve Blake’s pop,bebop and hiphop music under Paige Rattray’s tight direction and Leonard Mickelo’s snappy choreography. Fangirl’s highly professional production values with David Fleischer’s set, video content and costume design all serve to deck the show with today’s reality that hides the private fantasy. So why yet another musical play about teenagers’ complex and fragile human condition? Perhaps the answer lies in Edna’s defiant Just You Wait and See. It leads her into a drastic fantasy world, obsessed with the notion that real life singerAYDAN’s character,pop star Harry’s hit song Nobody Loves You Like Me is being meant for her and only her. Fangirls is more than a fairy floss candy tale of teenage angst, parental confusion, fickle friendship and rite of passage.
|AYDAN in Fangirls Photo Brett Boardman
Cliches and stereotypes abound
and implausibility shakes the willing suspension of disbelief. But this is life
and Fangirls makes no apology for
holding one of Life’s most precious mirrors up to Nature. Created with high
school students in mind, Fangirls is
sure to be the Bye Bye Birdie, Grease or High School Musical of the future and when amateur rights are
released on many school production wish lists. And that’s no fantasy.
Fangirls will open at the Canberra Theatre on March 24.