Okay. Before I start this review there is something you should know. I have never been a big fan of musical theatre. I often feel like things that could be said in two sentences are instead dragged out to the length of a song; by someone intent on singing at – instead of to – the audience. So it is with a little caution that I enter the opening night of There Something About Mary(s) at Wonderland Festival. Luckily for me – this isn’t that type of musical.
The storyline follows the journey of a good Christian girl from Nerang, to self-proclaimed ‘fag hag’ of a Brisbane university. It is a cabaret style show, with a minimalist set, and as the show opens the lights come up to introduce us to Cassie George playing our main character, and accompanied by musical director Luke Volker on piano.
Within the first 10 minutes of the show, my fears about musicals are allayed. Instead of using music to sing plot lines at us, we are treated to renditions of popular music that instead enhance the existing storyline. The songs are cleverly picked to provide an extra, often humorous layer to the story, while tugging at the nostalgia that often comes with music that we all know and love. Cassie has excellent vocal control, and instead of feeling like someone is singing at you, you are left with a feeling akin to being invited into an intimate concert in someone’s living room. The songs range from Prince to Salt-n-Pepa, and Cassie’s ability to poke fun at herself as a rapper really makes this rendition shine.
While this is pitched as a story about navigating both her romantic relationships as well as her position as queen of queens, so much of the storytelling is a universal tale of growing up, and wanting to find both love and your place in the world. Her character is awkward, and dorky, and well- really endearing. She is unafraid to share the embarrassing stories, or to let everyone know about the times things didn’t go right. And as an audience member – it’s really nice to not be sold a picture perfect lead character.
There is good interplay between Cassie and Luke, who drinks wine and adds sassy quips from the piano throughout the show and generally makes us laugh. There are moments of audience interaction and even when it’s indirect, we often feel more like we are a part of the show than watching it. By the end of the night we are all on our feet dancing, and I don’t even mind the group sing along.
If you want to see something at Wonderland, it’s worth a look. Even if like me- musicals aren’t always your first choice. You just might be surprised to find yourself singing along too.
There’s Something About Mary(s) is on at the Brisbane Powerhouse until Sunday 26 November 2017.
Cassie George in Partnership with Brisbane Powerhouse.
Performer and Writer Cassie George
Musical Director Luke Volker
Co-writer Michael Mandalios