Fangirls | Musical Review
Production images: Brett Boardman
Neighbours of Belvoir St Theatre should expect to hear thrilling pop numbers and raucous laughter for the next three weeks as Yve Blake’s Fangirls takes the stage. The new Australian musical is a tribute to the trials and tribulations of being a teenager who has fallen in love for the first time. This show is a quirky Australian work that gives insight into the power behind the underestimated fangirl.
Who we’re all fangirling over is Edna (played by Yve Blake, who also wrote the show), an avid fan-fic writer (personally, Drarry forever) and a scholarship student amongst rich kids in a prestigious high school. The show explores Edna’s online and real life relationships, ranging from her explosive mother-daughter relationship to her quirky fan-fic collaboration with an American teenager, and how those relationships are impacted by Edna being in love with Harry, the dreamy frontman of boy band True Connection.
So when the band announces that they’re finally coming to tour Australia, Edna sees the perfect opportunity to make her dreams come true.
What really made this show shine was the freshness and energy that was brought to the stage through Blake’s writing. This felt like a show by young people, for young people, and it had no trouble keeping up with and even surpassing any of its competition. Paige Rattray directs a standout cast that gives the audience so much to love. The score (written by Blake, produced by David Muratore and directed by Alice Chance) is hit after hit that had audiences tapping, clapping, and waving their phone’s flashlight in the air.
The teamwork of David Fleischer (set, video content and costume designer) and Justin Harrison (video content design and production) is nothing short of stunning, finding clever ways to differentiate Edna’s real life and her online world. It is a visual feast of imagery from the online world, that any young audience member would recognise only too well (and definitely didn’t make me remember all of those covers videos on my old youtube channel that I wish I could delete).
Leading the cast was Blake who gives a performance that speaks to the 14 year old girl inside all of us. Sharon Millerchip as Edna’s Mum, Caroline, is grounded and nuanced (and made me regret all those times I treated my Mum badly when I was a moody teenager). Dynamic (and I mean, dynamic) duo, Jules (Chika Ikogwe) and Brianna (Kimberley Hodgson) almost steal the show several times with Ikogwe’s impeccable comedic timing and Hodgson’s heart melting disposition. James Majoos as Saltypringl, finds the perfect intersection of sensitive and flamboyant and Ayesha Madon’s vocal runs are ones I hope to be hearing on Australian stages for many years to come. Finally, while the character of Harry is a caricature of what we expect him to be, Aydan pulls it off perfectly (and really does have a dreamy voice).
Fangirls is ultimately an experience that is for ex-fangirls, parents of fangirls, and people who have no idea what a fangirl is. It begs the question of why we toss girls who love boybands aside but praise boys for loving their favourite footballer. I would definitely recommend buying a ticket and allowing yourself to become a fangirl of fangirls.
Fangirls at Belvoir St Theatre has student tickets available and all information can be found at https://belvoir.com.au/productions/fangirls/. Alternatively rush tickets are available on the TodayTix app.