I am so happy that I’ll be one of the lucky few who can say, “Yes, I was there at the Opening Night of Fangirls in Brisbane. I interviewed Yve Blake, you know“
This show is a phenomenon. It’s a modern and hilarious take on fandom, boy bands, friendship and family dynamics yet it also showcases the broader family and friends found on the internet. Only someone as forward thinking as Sam Strong would see its potential, its cross gender, genre and generational appeal. It was a push for me to even invite my husband along as he’s not a fan of Musicals …..but he is a techie who loves music, has a fondness for Indie music and plays and loves going to Bille Brown Theatre. So I tentatively asked him along. I wasn’t really game to look at him at first, until I heard him laugh, then guffaw, then ….actually… literally clap at the end of a song. The whole crowd on Opening Night were the most appreciative and vocal that I’d seen in years.
About the Play
Yve Blake plays Edna, a scholarship kid at a posh school, with a caring single mother working hard to make ends meet. At home Edna is the dramatic girl with all the eyes rolls, drama and heightened responses that we all had at that age. At school she doesn’t quite fit, although her friends the feisty Jules and subservient Brianna form a trio. They have all the normal teenage hangups which are considerably heightened in this age of social media. The three are bonded by their love for Harry from the boyband , True Connection.
Then they hear that True Connection will be touring in Australia. How do 13 and 14 year olds afford the tickets? What will they wear? How can they get Harry to notice them? These are only some of the (literally) thousands of dilemmas facing a teenage girl every day. Saltypringl, an online friend in Utah wonders why all the boy bands are marketed to girls. Don’t gay guys get a say in this too? The world is on high alert watching every move of Harry and the band.
The Cast of this amazingly new and modern play are all stars in their own right. Many Australians know Aydan, from The Voice, but in real life his voice is even more outstanding. I know my music and he is a 10 out of 10. He also acts with the ease of someone who has been treading the boards for years.
Yve Blake is so believable as the 14 year old Edna. She dances and sings with unselfconsciousness, so confident is she in the role she has created. It was like watching a star being born, although I know she’s already been working tirelessly on all aspects of her career since high school.
I loved her Mum, Caroline, played by Sharon Millerchip. She was so convincing in her role and had a terrific voice. Jules ( Chika Ikogwe , Mean Girls) had the right amount of chutzpah without seeming like a bully. She was a strong young woman with a strong voice and a stage presence to match. Brianna ( Kimberly Hodgson) came into her own as the play progressed, a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis. All eyes were focused on the inspired character Saltypringl (James Majoos). He played the role of a fanboy from Utah with such honesty, laced with a good dose of humour. One to watch for the future! Ayesha Maden played Lily. Lastly kudos to the amazing Ribbon Girl aka Melissa Russo, who floored us with her moves.
Paige Rattray’s deft hand as director ensured the pacing was fast but never frenetic and engaging the audience after interval was inspired. The set showed the boundless use of technology in theatre these days and was perfect for this work. Projections of teen interactions from around the world interspersed with messages from Harry, zombies and news broadcasts all added to the audience engagement. Costumes also deserve a special mention, particularly the hilarious inclusion of the silver jacket and swimsuit ensembles. The whole stage was used to great effect and many of us were so close we could have touched the performers. The new Bille Brown Theatre ensures audiences can engage with the play like in no other theatre I’ve seen.
I’ve also never seen an audience so quick to bounce up for a standing ovation and the well deserved applause extended to the whole Fangirls team. Sam Strong was on a high when he spoke at the afterparty, as were the the whole cast and crew. The night became a celebration with some great food like assorted mini burgers, potato gems and nachos which seemed to suit the style of play we’d just seen.
Fangirls is a co -production with Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre so if you’re in Sydney make sure you go along when it heads down there. After Opening Night here in Brisbane there may be only limited tickets available. Thanks again to Queensland Theatre and Kath Rose for inviting SheSociety to this play, which will surely be the hit of the Brisbane Festival. The buzzy Brisbane crowd were on a high as we left the theatre and we all agreed that this show will go far. Congratulations to the (literally) ultra talented Yve Blake. I feel actually dead after seeing your amazing play. And yes, you will walk away with a whole new vocabulary to go with your gluten free pizza.
SheSociety is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.