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Review: BarbieQ: 25 Years & Counting at Connections Nightclub

Review by Tatum Stafford


Whether you’re a die-hard fan of drag, Dolly Parton, Madonna, or Perth Fringe at all, you know who BarbieQ is. Barbie’s legacy is unmatched in the Perth performing arts community, and this is her 25th anniversary year in drag. 


To celebrate, she has curated an hour of her greatest hits and some of her favourite songs to perform in her new Fringe show, ’25 Years & Counting’, that I was lucky enough to catch in a jam-packed crowd on Friday night – it’s what she deserves!


I’ve been lucky to see a few of Barbie’s Fringe shows over the years, including her first iteration of her Dolly Parton tribute, her Madonna circus show and Sinsuality with Kinetica, and Drag Diva Spectacular. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a guarantee that if Barbie is involved in the Fringe show you’re about to see, it will be of an exceptionally high standard and leave you with a huge smile on your face. This show is no exception.


The show kicks off with a bang with a group number, featuring Barbie and her ‘boys’, a group of six talented dancers who don plenty of eyeliner and glitter vests throughout the show. Barbie is an incredible host, and she had the audience in the palm of her hand as she told us stories about her drag career, including her very first performance in drag 25 years ago, stories about her time in high school (with a very wholesome shout-out to her mum in the front row), and anecdotes about some of her favourite shows she has produced over the years, for Fringe and beyond. 


This show is full of crowd favourite numbers, including Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Summer Rain’, complete with prop umbrellas, ‘Does Your Mother Know’ from Mamma Mia, ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)’, and ‘This Is Me’ from The Greatest Showman. ‘This Is Me’ clearly resonated with the audience, as Barbie stood in a stunning gown in front of a rainbow glow of lights. This was such a powerful moment, and I saw a few audience members dab tears away as Barbie gave it her all. 


The finale of the show was one of Barbie’s favourite Dolly Parton numbers, ‘Applejack’, complete with hoedown choreography, gingham, and a massive smile on her face. Having seen her Dolly show a few years ago, and hearing about the passion and love Barbie had for Dolly growing up, this was the perfect closer, and had the audience bopping along in their seats and grinning from ear to ear.


The word ‘icon’ is bandied around a lot these days within the drag fandom, but it’s clear Barbie has well and truly earned this moniker. I feel so grateful that she calls Perth home, because she is a consistent creator and is sure to have many more entertaining Fringe shows up her sparkly sleeves in the years to come. 


Image Supplied

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