Christie Whelan-Browne is a superbly talented performer, most recently seen in the role of Janet in Rocky Horror Show. Other credits include Xanadu: The Musical, Company, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Importance Of Being Earnest and A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. When award winning writer and director Dean Bryant first saw her in the Kookaburra production of Company, he knew he had to write a show in which Whelan-Browne could showcase her talents. At the time, Bryant was listening to Britney Spears latest album and it occurred to him that Christie Whelan-Browne would do a brilliant job as the pop diva.
Teaming up with Matthew Frank as musical director, Bryant wrote a cabaret show about Britney Spears. The original intent was to write it as a comedy, but as the show developed he began to explore the imagination of what it must be like to have every move in your life chronicled and judged by the world.
Bryant has always been a fan of Spears' music, but when asked if he is also a fan of Britney Spears herself, he replies he's not sure what there is to be a fan of anymore. He explains Spears is no longer a singer, dancer or actor, but more of a corporation. What Bryant does have, though, is a great deal of empathy for the human being that is Britney Spears.
Britney Spears: The Cabaret takes the pop tunes we all know, and under the musical direction of Matthew Frank, reveals the songs in a whole new way. Bryant explains that when all you have is a grand piano and a voice you soon learn if it's a good song or not. Surprisingly, many of the Britney Spears songs are incredibly good when you reveal the bare bones of the song. Most of Spears's well-known songs were written by Swedish composer Max Martin and in cabaret, the songs take on a whole new feel. Bryant says Womaniser is surprisingly good as a Patti Lupone-esque belt song.
Songs such as (Hit Me Baby) One More Time, Toxic, Lucky and even I'm A Slave 4 U get a special cabaret makeover – and the end result is some very good songs which are in fact better than the original versions. Intertwining the songs is the story of Britney Spears. The show starts with a lot of humour before taking the audience on a roller-coaster of emotions as it examines the troubled years when Spears ended up in a psych unit and lost custody of her children for a period of time. The end result is a show that reveals the challenge of being Britney Spears.
In writing the show, the point that impacted Bryant the most was the fact that every newspaper in the world already has an obituary written for the popstar – along with every other “famous” person. While it's normal practice, Bryant reflects on how sad it is for a young woman to already have her whole life summed up ready for her death.
Britney Spears: The Cabaret received rave reviews when it first opened and as a result as required very few changes. The final monologue is updated each year to ensure it remains relevant to any recent events. Audiences have come away, entertained but also a little more enlightened as to what life must be like if you're a pop star in today's world. While many audience members comment this new insight causes them to feel empathetic for Spears, Bryant would like to think it would be good if we could all develop a little more empathy to everyone in life. Afterall, everyone faces challenges and struggles in their life and a little empathy towards others could go a long way.
Britney Spears: The Cabaret is now playing at Melbourne's Chapel Off Chapel before touring. Don't miss out on the cabaret that everyone is raving about.
Luckiest Productions presents
Britney Spears:The Cabaret
Written by Dean Bryant
Musical Direction by Mathew Frank
July – September 2014
"Dean Bryant's Britney Spears: The Cabaret is ingenious. Humanising its subject, the show is more than an hilarious piss-take, reaching beyond comedy to reveal an uncomfortable truth about celebrity culture and those who consume it." – The Age
"Hilariously sad and sadly hilarious… An eye-opening journey into the existence of one of the most successful commercial bodies on earth." – Sydney Morning Herald
Britney Spears: The Cabaret, National Tour Dates
Tickets: Adult $39, Conc $35*
The Chapel at Chapel Off Chapel
Dates& Times: Wednesday 23 July – Sunday 10 August at 7.30pm
Bookings: http://chapeloffchapel.com.au/ticket-sales/or (03) 8290 7000
Visy Theatre at Brisbane Powerhouse
Dates & Times: Wednesday 13 August – Sunday 17 August at 7.30pm
Bookings: http://brisbanepowerhouse.org/or (07) 3358 8600
Hayes Theatre Co
Dates & Times: Wednesday 20 August – Sunday 7 September at 7.30pm
Bookings: www.hayestheatre.com.auor (02) 8065 7337
Riverside Theatres Parramatta
Dates & Times: Sunday 21 September at 3pm
Bookings: www.riversideparramatta.com.auor (02) 8839 3399
*transaction fees apply