The world famous Eurovision song contest is paid homage to in satirical musical-comedy romp full of audience involvement and shameless yet friendly parodies this month when Fab Nobs Theatre premieres their production of Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision on Friday the 8th of March. The show’s unique approach assigns audience members to countries upon arrival and uses a voting process each night to decide on a winner, meaning no two shows will be the same and the performers are driven by a genuine will to win.
Director Patt Ryan has nurtured the satirical-comedy style of acting to ensure that the actors don’t fall flat in their interpretation of the larger than life characters from across Europe. “It was difficult at the start, because it feels unnatural to go so over the top. It looks silly to the audience and you feel like a fool doing it. But Eurobeat demands that from each cast member. If it feels safe, then it's not big enough. If you feel like a moron, then chances are you're nailing it. Once that idea landed with them, the show just lifted to a whole new level. I think what really worked for them too was going out and looking into who their country was based on in the past. 90's boy bands, ABBA, Bjork, Jason and Kylie…for some of us, it was a trip down memory lane into our childhood, for some, it was a scary journey into something they may have heard their parents talk about… the 80's.”
Taking on the challenge of various (not to mention, slightly obscure) accents is another element which the cast has been tackling, finding a balance of using a realistic and genuine accent and retaining the satire of the show. “A few of the cast have enjoyed the challenge of going home and trying to Youtube videos of accents for their characters, and I applaud their dedication and stupidity. I said from the outset with the cast that I wasn't looking for a Lonely Planet guide to Europe. It would be wrong of us to try and take it seriously with the accents when everything else is done so satirically. It's all just meant to be fun and make you laugh.”
The shows appeal to audiences also lies it’s the accessibility. Rather than reaching to a demographic who are solely theatre buffs, Patt Ryan is certain that Eurobeat will delight a much larger range of fans due to it’s basis in commercial music and the Eurovision contest. “It isn't your normal musical, with love songs and ballads, and a plot, it is great for the general public. You don't need to be embarrassed that you don't know who the Sharks and the Jets are, or what exactly the Rhythm of Life is when you walk in to see this show. It's for anyone who loves kitsch costumes, cheesy pop tunes, bad accents and a good time.”
In terms of the audience participation, the cast has had to work hard to make sure they are as well prepared for whatever comes their way, which Ryan admit’s was the hardest part of rehearsal. “There's only so much you can rehearse for an unknown conclusion. Because it is what separates this show from any other, I think the cast got really excited when it all finally dawned on them. A new ending every night! It's also great motivation for them. I told them early on that in most shows, you get judged by a few people over a few nights for the awards and reviews…this show, you will be judged every single night, by every single audience member. An audience vote each night means there's no room for an off performance. They have all realised now that they're not just out there to perform and entertain the audiences, they want to win!”
Musical director Vicki Quinn has worked with the cast to pull together a show which delivers tight vocals as part of the incredible versatile score. The music of Eurobeat has obvious references to well known pop songs and covers a variety of styles. The cast has also had to overcome the challenge of parts of the vocal score being in a language other than English, which they have risen to spectacularly. “We are lucky enough to have a diligent cast who don't want to misrepresent the languages they are singing, so they have done a lot of personal research to ensure they are getting it right!” Vicki mentions the number “I’m Sarajevo” as a show standout, being the only number which involves the entire cast singing, but notes that the show has something for everyone in it’s quirky and exciting score. “Each solo or group number brings to it a great energy that will entertain! As with any show, different people will have different favourites!”
Eurobeat is a show which is bound to leave you with a Ukrainian pop tune in your car on the way home and is definitely a show that is not to be missed, with something for the whole family and a vibrant, interactive take on the standard musical.
Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision will be playing at the Fab Factory is Bayswater from March 8th-23rd, with tickets starting at $29 and available at http://www.ticketbookings.com.au/events/fabnobs/eurobeat