It started out as a small ten minute cabaret for the Short and Sweet Festival at Chapel Off Chapel, and quickly developed into a ninety minute one-woman fully fledged musical called Oprahfication. From its small and humble beginnings, Oprahfication is about to hit the big time, being invited to perform a season at the prestigious New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF.)
Written by Rachel Dunham, the whole idea first started when she was sitting with some friends pondering the question “what one woman show could Rachel best present in a cabaret show?” Dunham laughs as she acknowledges there were a number of glasses of wine consumed during the conversation. She brought up the fact she has often been told by people how much she reminds them of Oprah Winfrey. When Dunham looks in the mirror she can't see it at all, but soon discovered that yes, she could actually give a convincing portrayal of Oprah.
Dunham wrote the original lyric and book, then enabled the help of Shanon Whitelock as musical director and Dirk Hoult as director. As Dunham says, these three Aussie kids are now headed off to the big smoke! It's a huge step within just a couple of years.
Oprahfication takes the audience into a television studio to watch a recording of the show Oprah. There are ad breaks and behind the scene moments when the audience learns what really goes on when the camera goes off. Through the show, Oprah is faced with a couple of dilemmas but returns for the ultimate interview. The show makes use of the celebrity of Oprah and asks how does someone handle celebrity status? How will she cope with not having a live audience anymore? Dunham explains a show needs to have something to ask, otherwise it has no depth to it. There's a lot of fun, but it also asks some thought-provoking questions.
Dunham says the show honours Oprah and it is written with considerable respect, but is much more than a tribute. Dunham has a lot of fun with her character because, as she explains, Oprah has a lot of fun with herself. Some of the biggest laughs in the show are direct quotes by Oprah, which Dunham really loves. She acknowledges that the show may be a little irreverent at times, but so too is Oprah about herself. Dunham describes Oprah as a very, very funny lady. It is clear Dunham is very knowledgeable about Oprah Winfrey. Dunham explains it came from being an unemployed musician during the 1980's spending her days watching daytime television. She also owns the 20th anniversary DVD box set of the Oprah show which has provided Dunham will a great deal of inspiration and a multitude of fabulous quotes.
Dunham says audiences come away thoroughly entertained. She invites people to jump on the ride and hang on. Even audience members who don't know much about Oprah have found the show incredibly thought provoking and interesting. The Americans who have been in the audience of the show already here in Australia have told Dunham, “You have to take this show to America!” Now she is – to the Mecca for any performer: New York. Dunham just hopes her accent “cuts the mustard.”
The team will be away for the month of July and are not sure what will happen after that. They're just taking one step at a time – and this next step is a pretty huge one for these “three kids from Queensland.” It's also a very expensive one. While they have been invited to perform at the NYMF they have to cover all their own costs.
A pozible campaign has been established – with the most sought after reward currently being the New York season hoodie. They still need a little more help to get over the line. If you'd like to contribute (and perhaps score yourself a very unique hoodie) head to the website for more details: