From the moment the pre-show begins rolling—a series of old ABC Kids ads and show intros mixed in with songs from the show’s constructed Giggleback Kidz! property—I was immediately transported to a world of gleeful nostalgia. I recognised shows I’d forgotten about for years, like Silversun or Lil Elvis, and I fell back into that surreal world of after-school TV. As a result, I became very much prepared to believe that Giggleback Kidz! was a real show that I guess I could just have missed somehow.
So let me just be forthright: Giggleback Kidz! The Reunion Tour is stupid dumb fun from start to finish and I really wanna emphasise that as a good thing. This isn’t a deep show, or a show with huge intentions, or strong characters, or anything really—it’s just fun. And that seems to be all the team behind the show wanted to create, because Giggleback Kidz! doesn’t ever stray far from its key cause of being fun. Sure, it plays on all the tropes that ‘reunion’ shows tend towards, like sexual drama, or dashed dreams, or the entitlement brought on by childhood stardom—but it’s not really concerned with those things beyond using them as a way to drive the plot for the play’s fifty-minute runtime.
And that’s okay. Because that’s all a show structured like this needs—enough MacGuffins of plot to drag you along from one farcical musical sequence to the next, and to give the audience the context that makes the four Kidz’s delivery of sugary and innuendo-filled songs an extra level of hilarious.
It helps that the songs sound good, too. Dan Anderton’s music production is the shining piece of polish that elevates Giggleback Kidz! from tacky and tumbling to instead being a show that feels like it’s had genuine care put into it, and that’s important. It’s important because it makes the whole thing—no matter how awkward it gets from time to time, and no matter the few times the audio blows out—feel like a genuinely valuable experience. Not valuable as in, say, Ricky Rose’s (Dan Anderton) monologues about finding yourself changed me, or Simon’s (Nevin Howell) and Ruth’s (Eloise Fisher) romance moved me—but valuable as in: I had a fantastically good time.
And that’s the experience I think I was meant to have. And I’m glad theatre like this can exist—and that performance doesn’t always have to reach for ‘high art’ or whatever all the time, only to so often fail. Paradoxically, it’s this lack of reaching that allows Giggleback Kidz! to succeed. If it had been the same show, but perhaps had leaned further into the darkness of its characters, or tried to make some statement about growing up, then it would have left a bad taste in my mouth. But it didn’t. It did exactly what the show’s finale song demands of its audience: it lived its ‘Reasonable Dreams’, and in that remained genuine to its cause: it made its audience laugh, and made them laugh consistently. And thank god for that.
You can purchase tickets to Giggleback Kidz! The Reunion Tour here.
This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the Triple Threat performance on Thursday May 12.
Full disclosure: The reviewer is friends with and has worked with some members of the creative team involved in this production.