Britney Jean Spears. She’s the pop princess that the ‘00s generation grew up with long before the emergence of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Ariana Grande. She’s one of those artists that everyone has heard of (that’s how fame works) but perhaps unless you are a massive fan you might only know her top five hits, her distinctive pop riffing style and the rumours surrounding her apparent breakdown in the early 2000’s. That’s what was so intriguing about a Britney Spears cabaret. Britney Spears songs without the dancing, seductive outfits and elaborate videos – would they hold up?
There were certainly some massive Britney fans in the audience of the second night of Britney Spears The Cabaret (no surprises there). Directed and written by Dean Bryant, the cabaret, which has just arrived from sell-out seasons in Australia, introduced us to the comic genius that is Christie Whelan Browne a.k.a Britney Spears. Whelan Browne is an established Australian musical theatre performer, with credits including Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Her comic timing throughout the cabaret is superb, she manages to keep everyone thoroughly entertained throughout the 1 hour performance – no mean feat considering the size of the audience. She effortlessly switches between a satirical portrayal of the Britney we know from the media’s representation to a deeply thoughtful, if not sad, Britney reminiscing about the vices of fame.
From her pageant filled childhood through to her various marriages and sons we get a whistle stop tour of Britney’s life, interspersed with acoustic versions of greatest hits. What is perhaps most delightful about the cabaret is not the acting through song but the beauty of the lyrics. It seems almost foolish to say that there is some poetic prettiness to a Britney Spears song, but stripped back and raw the lyrics to ‘Everytime’ and ‘Baby One More Time’ seem to communicate something previously unheard, making the audience think about Britney songs in a new way. However not every song can be a poignant one; there was certainly no other way to deliver ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’ other than the awkward, hilarious, faux sexy way that Whelan Browne did.
It is a shame that Bryant’s cabaret, with musical direction by Matthew Frank, is leaving The Other Palace so soon – and with it all the Britney themed cocktails.
Britney Spears The Cabaret played at The Other Palace until September 9.