Review By Annabelle Rosewarne
Fangirl (noun): a girl or young woman who is an extremely or overly enthusiastic fan of someone or something such as an actor, or type of music. Judging by Merriam-Webster’s above definition, I can wholeheartedly consider myself a ‘fangirl’ of Belvoir’s hit musical of the same name.
Fangirls, with book, music and lyrics by Yve Blake, and direction by Paige Rattray, made a return season this year to the Seymour centre after a hugely successful run at the Belvoir theatre in 2019. Well, I can certainly say the show lived up to its hype.
The story centres around teen Edna (played by Karis Oka) as she navigates her complicated relationships with her single mother (Sharon Millerchimp), her two high school best friends Jules (Chika Ikogwe) and Brianna (Shubshri Kandiah), and most importantly, her unwavering love for the British boyband True Connection. As Edna fawns over lead singer Harry (perfectly cast as Aydan from The Voice Australia), there’s no mistaking the reference to One Direction, and of course pop icon Harry Styles. We are taken on a joyous journey of teen obsession, revelling in the lengths Edna goes to meet Harry, her one true love. Do not underestimate a fangirl!
The show is exuberant, colourful and bursting with humour. Set on a stage of pure sparkles,
we immediately delve into the world of 14-year-old Edna, and into her bedroom plastered with the face of Harry – beanbags, bedsheets, pillows, and all. Karis Oka makes for a loveable protagonist, with all the goofy energy one could hope for, yet brings sincerity and heart to the role. Joined by Jules (Ikogwe) and Brianna (Kandiah), the trio of friends are a believable group of Aussie teenage girls, all three nailing their comedic timing.
Blake’s tongue-in-cheek writing features a series of hilarious fantasy sequences, complete with up-beat choreography (Leonard Mickelo), and excellent pop vocals (Music Direction by Zara Stanton). The ensemble in this show are dripping with talent, all taking on several different roles, complete with an impressive array of vibrant costumes and wigs (David Felischer).
A special mention must go to Ayesha Madon, whose comedic dance solos and Ariana Grande-esque riffs wowed audiences. Scene-stealer James Majoos takes the role of Saltypringl, an online friend to Edna and member of the True Connection fandom, touching on the power of social media uniting young people all over the world, through their mutual adoration of the boyband.
Whilst the show is bubbly and light-hearted in appearance, at its core is a comment on the way we as a society view young women, and a celebration of their power and passion. Blake challenges the audience to question why our instinct is to dismiss fangirls as ‘Silly Little Girls’, brandishing their screams of joy as ‘crazy’ and ‘hysterical’, yet the very same impassioned screams from young men at football matches are socially acceptable. Blake’s show uplifts us to rather than make fun of fangirls, to admire their unbridled positivity, and willingness to love unapologetically. We simply can’t help but to adore these characters through all the trials and tribulations of young love.
At times I truly felt like I was at a pop concert, and for a moment, I flashed back to being at the One Direction concert in 2015. (yes, I was there, you should be jealous). The audience is invited to laugh, sing along, sway with their phone lights, and release their inner fangirls, no matter what age. In Blake’s own words ‘It’s for Fans who aren’t ‘girls’, former fans, parents of fans and for people who’ve never heard the word ‘Fangirl’ in their life.’
So like, omg literally, you should totally go and get a ticket!!! Literally!!
Photo Credit: Brett Boardman