Image one: The cast. Image two: Yve Blake as Edna. Photos by Stephen Henry.
Book, Music and Lyrics by Yve Blake
Directed by Paige Rattray
A Belvoir/Brisbane Festival production in association with Australian Theatre for Young People
Bille Brown Theatre
Season: September 2-October 5. Duration: Two hours 20 minutes with interval. Bookings: 1800 356 528 or www.queenslandtheatre.com.au
What a joyously entertaining evening this turned out to be, and what a talent is Yve Blake! Not only did she write everything in then play - book, music and lyrics – but also played the lead role of star-struck Edna. She is now in her mid-20s and a thoroughly experienced writer, songwriter and comedian/actor, but she was utterly convincing as the confused 14-year-old with a huge crush on Harry, front man of boy band True Connection.
The same can be said for the rest of the cast, her school friends Brianna (Kimberley Hodgson), Jules - short for Juliet – (Chika Ikogwe) and Lily (Ayesha Madon). Under Paige Rattray’s usual insightful direction they all became so typical of young teen girls: insecure, overconfident, loving and bitchy, all in the same moment - and all with parents who didn’t understand them!
Add to cast James Majoos as Saltypringl, Edna’s online friend from the US, who also did a couple of drag sessions, Sharon Millichip as Edna’s struggling single mum and swing performer Melissa Russo and you have a cast high on energy and talent that was more than enough to keep me enthralled for the entire two hours of action. The singing from everyone was exceptional.
Edna denies being a fan of Harry because she actually loves him and “knows” that one day they will start to spend their life together. So came the recurring tune Nobody Loves You Like Me.
When her hero is booked into her city for a concert all that remains for Edna is how to get to meet Harry – nicely played and sung by Aydan, who was suitably wholesome and handsome. Things get desperate when Mumm says she can’t go and the action took a sharp and hilarious turn that brought many more super laughs.
All the songs are toe-tappers and melody driven with scene setting lyrics clearly heard in pop concert, rather than rock concert style and the choreography from Leonard Mickelo perfect for young teens who were not chorus girls. It was a great concept.
The stage as set with huge video screens and Justin Hamilton’s AV designs added even more depth to the show including the screaming audience at True Connection’s concert, which was realistic without being as deafening at it would in real life!
You could say he plot was fairly implausible but who cares, the play is a glorious romp filled with fun and love.
This is not a show just for youngsters, it is a play to revive memories of any mum who squealed and queued for tickets for a One Direction concert, or fainted at the feet of Paul McCartney. It is also a play to be enjoyed as a nostalgic retrospect of the anguish created by their teenage daughters, now thankfully grown up!
It took me back to my early as a showbiz writer, back to the dressing room of The Beatles and Ringo Starr leaning out of a window urging the screaming teens to crush past the policemen guarding the stage door and join them, and to Little Richard sending away two underage groupies and giving them money to catch a train home to the city they have left just to be with him.
This is indeed a rarity musical play that has universal appeal.