From Billy Elliot to Mamma Mia to Fiddler On The Roof, Louise Kelly has carved a reputation out of being one of Australia’s best musical storytellers. Having effortlessly jumped from the camp humour of Kiss Me Kate to the classic drama of Camelot, to the dry Aussie satire of The Beauty Spot in her professional career, it’s no surprise Kelly’s one-woman show Gimme! has already enjoyed three sold out seasons in Sydney.
With tongue firmly in cheek, Kelly draws on some of the great ‘want’ songs from the musical theatre world, to give the audience a uniquely Australian look at that niggling feeling that inspires some of our best (and worst!) moments.
“Having two and half children (one on the way) changes your priorities a little. I went from wanting to see my name in lights, to needing to get some sleep (and a pram that vibrates)! Gimme a plane ticket to Melbourne, a piano, and a mocktail!
"Gimme! is about 'want' – it all started after going to a Stephen Schwartz concert where he talked about 'want' songs in musicals, and I thought 'Wow! There really are a tonne of them,' so I started looking to see who many I could find. Eventually I found enough to do a show and its sequel but they don't often work – I mean the only good sequel is The Empire Strikes Back. I've considered doing a sequel but couldn't decide what to call it – Gimme! Two? Gimme! Too? They both work and have appropriate meanings!
"So I was thinking about what we want as human beings and started trying to link our wants in with musical theatre wants. Musical theatre 'wants' are often heightened but, when you come down to the crux of it , it's often about wanting love, and songs have come and gone throughout the life of the cabaret: 'Where is love?' from Oliver – I don't need that one anymore but some people still experience that every day; 'Someone to Watch Over Me' is the same. We all want love, respect, a better life/getting more out of life, to make something of ourselves, to escape this life, or love the life we feel we deserve.
"There are also regular 'wants' like money – one of the first songs in Mamma Mia! is 'Money, Money, Money' and Cabaret obviously has 'The Money Song.' In the end I found out that Musical theatre characters and every day characters quite similar – the basic idea is that we all want the same things."
"It's a funny world, the cabaret world, There are so many different styles that I've experienced over the years – the good old days with instrumental moments and dancing acrobats (I try to do the splits in this show and that's well-worth coming to see!) and many people have even found the show educational. A lot of the time people haven't though about want songs in that way and, although I guess that a lot of the musical theatre people may have, the general public often haven't.
"The show itself is a bit over-the-top, smack in your face, Ricky Gervais-style. It's self-deprecating, which is always where some of the best material comes from. It's a fun night out that doesn't get very heavy. It's stupid and there's audience participation but it's as a collective which is much more comforting.
"I do these things because I love them. I do it to keep up my performance skills. I do it because the big 8 shows a week is a struggle with a family, so smaller ventures (particularly ventures I can control myself) have become a lot more appealing. But that doesn't really get bums on seats. So I asked a mate 'Why would someone want to come see this show?' and she came out with somewhat of a rave:
'Because you're an f***ing awesome singer, who has an amazing ability to connect story with song. You're funny and charismatic. It's a lighthearted show and you walk away from it feeling great. The Butterfly Club is a fabulous venue to check out if you haven't been before and there's nothing good on TV on Saturday or Sunday. And there are costume changes.' (I thought that one was a bit lame myself. She was obviously reaching by that stage)."
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