The relationship between television and theatre has always been an intimate and challenging affair. So close are the two mediums, sharing audiences and industry professionals, that it is easy to see how they can influence each other. Attic Erratic present Sarah Collins’s new play Choir Girl, which has a decided nod towards the television series Glee and SMASH, with the desperate-to-succeed musical theatre wannabe trying to make their way through life and onto the stage. Choir Girl, as the title suggests, looks at success within a smaller stage: being part of a choir and having a voice that rises above the rest (or rather, blending in, after all “choir is all about blending in”).
Susan, played by writer Collins, loves to sing in her perfect alto voice. After her friend and flatmate Clinton goes on a cruise she needs to fill the time her friend is not there with something and decides that a choir is the answer. After auditioning for a small choral group, Choir Girl looks at the journey that the quirky and aspiring Susan undertakes in her attempts to blend into the group, whilst suppressing her desires for Greg, the pianist. Full of ambition and knowing the golden rules to being a choir girl, Susan’s quest to be the best is met with obstacles, arson and the crumbling of her dream. Featuring an accapella choir, a deliciously witty monologue and sweet arrangements of Britney Spear’s back catalogue, Choir Girl is a tremendous piece of theatre.
Collins’s Susan is like a car crash waiting to happen; her determination and dedication are her ultimate downfall. Even when we feel sympathetic towards her we know that she secretly deserves all that she receives for being so obsessed with her alto voice and being the best. It’s a play (with songs) that curls the corner of your lips as you smirk at this character’s quirks, and it sends your heart soaring as the talented choir busts a groove with Collins taking the lead. Perhaps written with the Glee-generation in mind, it’s easy to feel that this piece holds a secret place within all of its career-determined audience’s hearts. I know I left feeling uplifted from the experience.
Director Celeste Cody and Musical Director Tom Pitts work together to bring Collins’s text to life between the monologues and choral singing. There’s some tongue-in-cheek choreography and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to entertain. The whole performance is delivered with a wink of the eye – to not take the show too seriously – but even knowing this we can all see people in our lives who remind us of Susan. Collins as a performer is unquestionably brilliant in her complete portrayal, and given her writing ability too, I’d certainly tip her for greater things to come. Whether you’re a Glee-fan or choir mistress or just a lover of a good sing-along, Choir Girl is certainly one to see.
Choir Girl played at the Adelaide Fringe Festival.