Queensland Theatre and Brisbane Festival presents the brand-new Australian musical about the misunderstood tale of ‘do or die’ ‘Fangirls.’ This genius musical comedy written by Yve Blake brings the audience to their feet for an astounding standing ovation. The show provides a true education on the world of the fanatical adolescent and the struggles that they face on the regular. Specifically the story follows Edna, a 14 year old teenager that has a high-key obsession with the main boy, Harry from the popular boyband, True Connection. The inventive show delves into the different ways Fangirls cope with their infatuation like creating Fan Fiction, the craziness of buying tickets to a concert, that they communicate through social media and act like they know them and more.
The outstanding writer of the book, music and lyrics of this hilarious piece is Yve Blake. Incredibly she also portrays the main character of Edna. Edna is a complex typical teenager that rolls her eyes to her mother and enunciates each syllable of words like lit-er-a-ly. Eddy (as her Mum calls her) is the fangirl extraordinaire and you find yourself relating to her and feeling for her as she just wants to be accepted. Yve brilliantly personifies the ultimate Harry crazy passionate girl. She lives as though nothing else matters than fantasising about meeting the floppy-haired singer and thinking about how he is feeling at every moment.
Yve has a wonderful voice and turns it out in all of her pop numbers as she belts about the heartache of not being able to see her favourite band live. She confides in online fans to help her through in certain situations and news about the band and she writes imaginative fan fiction that comes to life on stage. By the middle of the show her love gets carried away and taken to the extreme. She discovers that she has gone too far and that her friends and family are always there to support her.
Despite a number of obstacles Edna’s friends are everything to her. The female friendship that is showcased in this production is multi-faceted and is so relatable with all of the ups and downs they go through, especially in high school.
Brianna is one of Edna’s close friends played by the hilarious and quirky Kimberley Hodgson. She depicts a school girl that is fun, nerdy and wants all of her friends to get along and be happy. Kim is brilliant as Brie and doesn’t shy away from trying to please her friends and seeks approval from them as she tries to look and act grown up.
Kimberley sings beautifully and has a ball throughout the course of this show. She is hilarious and has really spot-on comedic timing particularly when she is getting ready for the ‘True Connection’ concert and says RedBulls make her a little ‘seizury’ and at the end of the gig when she is sob crying as she realises her flower crown and phone are missing. Kim’s character Brie really comes into her own and discovers her individuality when she attends the protest when Harry goes missing and finds her people that listen to her. Brie learns to do what is right for her and her friends by the conclusion of the show.
The third member of Edna’s friendship trio is the feisty but sensitive Jules, embodied by Chika Ikogwe. Chika performs wonderfully as the most confident character of the three. Her character is very sure of herself and is the wealthiest but struggles with her parents splitting up and how they buy her love when they can’t see her. She loves the boyband and is quite the fangirl herself however makes fun of Edna for writing fan fiction and thinks she is delusional that she will ever meet Harry. Her insecurities and desire to be a realistic teenager gets the better of her when the band ‘True Connection’ announces their Australian tour and that Edna and Brianna can’t afford tickets. Jules picks Brianna to go to the concert over Edna. It is heartbreaking for Edna as she is the biggest fan of them all. Chika gives the audience an insight into the realities of the stress of friendships in high school.
Chika playing Jules has such swag and is side-split-tingly funny, this is revealed when they are about to attend the concert and Brianna and Jules are jumping on the bed, sculling Redbull’s and singing ‘Best night of our lives.’ It encapsulates the joy and excitement they feel when they are about to see their favourite artist live for the first time.
Edna’s mother, Caroline is played by Australian theatre legend, Sharon Millerchip. Caroline is a single Mum who is a nurse and is trying to makes ends meet for her dedicated fangirl daughter, although she would rather her concentrate on her school work (being a scholarship kid). Sharon was radiant in this role as she attempts to connect with her daughter and inform her that it isn’t the end of the world if she doesn’t see her idol’s concert.
However the juxtaposition was incredible when she agrees to help Edna when she is in strive, as she captures Harry after his concert and the girls don’t know what to do. Jules hysterically says ‘This is the best’ and her Mum runs into the room and says ‘I’ll drive.’ That was an amazing moment as she gets behind her daughter and understands her adoration has carried her to do insane things. Although she still insists on being a cool, supportive Mum and the audience eats it up.
James Majoos plays Edna’s online chat room fan BFF, Saltypringl. James was absolutely fabulous as her fan fiction collaborating buddy. He gives Edna the best advice and is supportive to her in her darkest times. James also plays other various roles that require that extra amount of sass or confidence. If there are any Drag Race fans out there, I see a regular Naomi Smalls seep out when James and all the dancers are in leotards living their life in the background of Edna’s epic pop numbers.
A highlight was when James and cast member Ayesha came into the audience during interval and were dressed like young teenagers excited about attending the ‘concert.’ They were hilarious taking photos with all ages and sitting on people’s laps in the audience. It was fantastic and such an interactive aspect of the show and they started screaming when act 2 began.
Lily, the online fan that Edna interacts with is characterised by Ayesha Madon. She is the most committed fangirl of the whole fandom and had a few insane moments especially when she yells at the camera on the screen in a scary voice. Her range of acting ability is astounding where she goes from protesting innocent school girl to reporter to ultimate fan girl.
‘The Voice’ superstar, Ayden plays the fitting character of Harry from the prominent boyband, ‘True Connection.’ He plays a role not so far from his real life, the heartthrob appears in Edna’s fan fiction at the beginning of the show and sings like a literal angel throughout the show. His big moment is when the concert is on and he struts out in Justin Bieber garb to ‘Never say never’ the hell out of the theatre.
The audience lives for it and acts like a real crowd of screaming girls as they all hold up their torches on their phone and sway to the slow song, ‘Nobody loves you like I do.’ Ayden nails the English accent and the innocence that the real Harry Styles brings and really discovers his acting chops as he is tied up by Edna and treat’s her like any other fan.
Yve Blake was marvelously creative as she crafted the music and lyrics for this masterpiece of modern contemporary theatre. The ballads and pop hits were beautiful sung by Edna and the girls. The tunes with all of the school girls that they shouldn’t underestimate them is such a girl power – ‘fight the man’ type of song. One of the best most hilarious scenes was the beginning of Act 2 when the girl characters are all dressed as the other members of the boyband. The haircuts are so accurate with the try-hard swagger dance moves that you would see ‘The Backstreet Boys’ perform in their prime are a must-see.
This feel-good show is all about the fangirls story and how they navigate life. It is poignant to highlight the fact that most grown men scream and go wild at footy games or are intense sport fans and don’t get scrutinised for acting off their nutter. However if women or young girls go gaga over the next Harry Styles and confess their undying love for them and believe that they will essentially have their children, they are considered by all to be hysteric and crazy. This show teaches people to appreciate people for who they are and that having a passion, no matter what it is, is a fantastic thing.
Run and scream to see this production. You won’t want to miss this love fest, flashback to when you had the fangirl tendencies, amazing music and beloved characters at Queensland Theatre’s Billie Brown Theatre until 5 October!
Billie Brown Theatre – Queensland Theatre, Brisbane
Playing now until 5 October
Belvoir – Upstairs Theatre, Sydney
12 October – 10 November
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