Review by Tatum Stafford
Your Village Peeps opened with a bang at Fringe World on Sunday night – and I’m sure those in the opening night audience would agree that this is a high-energy, talent-filled show that is not to be missed this Fringe season.
The concept of this show is very unique and offers a fresh take on the traditional talent show format that is often familiar at Fringe variety shows. As we entered Air Nightclub, there were prompts to vote live for our favourite performers of the night, either via Instagram or on a sheet of paper at the venue. But there was a twist; as you may expect from the name of this show, we were set to vote for who we wanted to see in ‘Your Village Peeps’, a tribute group who would perform the music of the iconic Village People in a world tour. Throughout the night, an Australian Idol-esque competition show would take place to determine who we’d see in the final performance troupe.
The production was incredibly slick throughout, and some clever banter between producer Drew Anthony (both in this show and in real life) and the TV show host Blake Williams set the scene perfectly. We were the studio audience, the guest judge for the night was Fringe favourite Simone Craddock, and an extra special guest judge was pulled right from the audience to complete the panel.
First to hit the stage were the two finalists for the role of the biker; Carrie Pereira, who showcased her gorgeous vocals, and then Cameron Gibson, whose cheeky smile, powerful stage presence and impressive dance routine proved to be a real crowd favourite. They were followed by Natasha Cove, who sang beautifully (and was uncontested) in her plight to become the army guy. As you’d expect in any 90’s/noughties TV competition show, each contestant of the night had their own pseudo-sob story, and Natasha’s was particularly hilarious and delivered with plenty of conviction and suitably pitying facial expressions.
Next up were the two competitors for the construction worker; the effervescent Tory Kendrick who effortlessly belted the classic “Nutbush City Limits”, and tap dancer Jarrett Walton, who gave a charismatic performance to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Despite finding some of his tapping hard to hear against the nightclub speakers, to quote guest judge Simone Craddock, it was a performance “that Freddie would have been proud of.”
The next competitors, for the role of the cop, were dancer Tayla Robinson, who was suitably sassy and had great charisma, and the energetic Clay Darius who nailed the disco classic “September”. Faith Ward was the second uncontested performer of the night, going up for the role of the Indian (which is later altered, but we won’t spoil anything here), and giving an incredibly impressive performance with plenty of moments to show off her beautiful lines and acrobatic ability.
The final two performers of the night were up for the role of the army guy. First we were dazzled by Kade Sweeney, who oozed charm and cheekiness in his dance performance, and then enchanted by Georgia Unsworth’s soaring voice in her performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.
After a brief intermission where we were encouraged to vote for our favourites, it was time to learn the fate of the competitors. Judging by the audience’s reactions, (and the final results), the winners on the night were Cameron, Natasha, Tory, Clay, Faith and Kade. But the beauty of this Fringe show is that no matter what performance you attend, you’re likely to have a different group of ‘Village Peeps’ to watch perform a Village People mega-mix at the end of the show.
The choreography in the mega-mix was thrilling to watch, and including nods to the iconic band’s greatest hits (the obligatory YMCA move made an appearance) while also showcasing the incredibly array of talent within this local cast.
Your Village Peeps has a lengthy run at Fringe this year, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s an incredibly fun, infectious show with plenty for everyone to enjoy, and I’m sure audiences will be on the edge of their seats to see what this production team brings to Fringe World 2023.