Funny, engaging and satisfying new theatre
By Ross Larkin
While writer and producer Wayne Tunks’ latest venture, The Girlie Show, is in some respects an homage to pop’s most famous diva Madonna, the play is more accurately a universal story about relationships, pain and self-discovery.
Directed by Josh Karlik, The Girlie Show revolves around a vibrant group of teenagers in the 90s, who, while queuing to purchase tickets for a Madonna concert, become close friends, bound initially by music and idolisation but ultimately by love and passion.
As the teens navigate their own personal challenges including infidelity, sexuality and the smothering of strict religious parents, the group’s bond widens against a backdrop of song, dance and humorous pop culture references.
Charlotte Fox plays songstress Natalie, who must choose between career and self-worth, while Sam (played by Adam Haylock) deals with a broken family and an addiction to risky habits. Oliver Bailey and Adam Noviello play Jason and Derek respectively, both faced with the conundrum of their feelings for each other versus Jason’s struggle to come out of the closet. Meanwhile, shy and meek Mary (Caitlin Spears) is forced to confront her controlling parents as she rebels against a life of repression.
Fox is particularly excellent (her solo ballad is a highlight), while most of the comical moments are provided by the supporting cast including Tunks himself, who plays Sam’s jovial dad, Tony. Geoff Wallis is hilarious as Vic, a toupee-wearing, sleazy record company executive and also as Jason’s densely naive father, along with his wife, played by Perri Cummings (among other support roles) whose performance and stage presence is strong and engaging.
One of the show’s best moments is a dance number (choreographed brilliantly by Kristen Adriaan-Benton) featuring the whole cast in a slew of outrageous, Madonna-inspired costumes as a centrepiece to the show.
The Girlie Show is a satisfying, coming-of-age mixture of comedy, drama, music and dance whose themes are universal and is, as such, most certainly not just for Madonna lovers!
The Girlie Show is playing now as part of the Midsumma Festival until January 31st, 2016 at La Mama Courthouse Theatre, 349 Drummond street, Carlton.