[ADELAIDE PREMIERE ~ AUS ~ IF YOU LOVE… TO LAUGH]
The Blue Room, Sat 15 Jun.
If there could be one drawback for the very short runs that most shows have in the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, it would be there is very little time for word of mouth to get around about a show as fabulous as Fat Musicals: A Body Of Work. It is a show that deserves that word to spread like wildfire so people can get to one of the triumphs of this year’s programme.
Fat Musicals is a show about female friendship, body positivity, girl power and the true love of the realm of musical theatre, despite its habit of the roles all being about the roles for men or skinny women. Structured like they are putting together their own musical, Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood – with sterling help from pianist Benjamin Kiehne – look for an opening number via Cabaret’s Willkommen, Good Morning Baltimore (Hairspray) and songs from Oliver and Something Happened On My Way To The Forum; using bits of theatrical songs, reworking lyrics to suite themselves and knocking their vocals out of the park on every number.
What is the deal, they ponder, with there being so few roles for the fuller figured woman in musical theatre? The songs come at a dizzying pace and sometimes mesh together mash-up style to get the narrative to where it needs to be. They want to be on stage, up front singing at the top of their lungs and they certainly do that, while shining a big fat spotlight on the lack of roles for them in actual musicals. Marsden and Wood brilliantly respond to fat shaming producers and on line trolls with a spirited He Had It Coming from Chicago. Through songs from Rent, Calamity Jane, Gypsy, they take us on unexpected and surprising journeys and pack massive belly laughs and moments of poignancy. Libby Marsden’s rendition of She Used To Be Mine, from the comparative new musical Waitress, is absolutely stunning, moving and met with thunderous applause.
The section where they deconstruct the misogyny, toxic masculinity and all round ‘incel stalker-ism’ [involuntary celibate, for those not in the lingo know – Ed.] of Phantom Of The Opera, and the habit of getting skinny people to get the fat suit on or be made up as cultures not of their own, was savagely hysterical. Kienhne is a great foil to Marsden and Wood, and gets his own moment to shine with his own number in the ‘intermission’. Mostly, his interjections are met with a dismissive “Eat your cookies, Ben,” which he proceeds to do.
Fat Musicals builds to a show-stopping empowerment number from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous feline opus that tears the roof off the room, before smashing out the title track from Mame with gusto and choreography. My hands were sore from clapping so much.
A plus size triumph!
Fat Musicals: A Body Of Work continues at The Blue Room, Adelaide Festival Centre, from 6pm until Sun 16 Jun.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Patrick Boland