Giggleback Kidz! The Reunion Tour
Presented by Young Goose Productions
Directed by Lana Bellingham-Young, Starring Dan Anderton, Sophie Banister, Eloise Fisher and Nevin Howell
Shows @ 6:30pm 19th May & 8:30pm 21st May
Toowong Bowls Club, Corner Gaileys Rd and Heroes Ave, Toowong
Review by Josh Lyons
The Giggleback Kidz are back. It’s been 10 years, but the now mid-twenties children’s performers are mostly keen to give us a kick of nostalgia, and bring us back into the wild success that defined them in the mid-2000s.
Following Ricky, Molly, Ruth and Simon as they journey backwards in time to when they were household names, Giggleback Kidz! gives us a neat little insight into what was for some, the best years of their lives, and for others quite possibly the worst. Ricky (Anderton) has since gone out on his own, producing his first solo album, to be released in June (he reminds us constantly). Molly (Banister) is still the happy child from Giggleback, and longs for her life to return to how perfect it was way back when. Ruth (Fisher) and Simon (Howell) were married at 18, but things didn’t work out too well, so the former has since spiraled through abuse problems and unwanted pregnancy, and the latter has settled down into a normal life as a real estate agent. When they’re forced back into a room together for the first time in years, reliving their old relationships and old tensions, things are definitely going to heat up.
This 1 hour musical is pretty silly. So silly in fact, that I find it weird that I’ve walked away feeling like it actually had some incredibly interesting and potent things to say about defining yourself, growing up, and coping with success. It tugged on my heartstrings a surprising amount for something so ridiculous, but maybe it just speaks to me as a millennial, currently faced with similar struggles to the ones these characters are going through. Also, despite centering around fictional events, the show had an extremely nostalgic feeling for me, something which was exacerbated by the opening projections, which featured clips from many of the shows which I watched growing up (also from around the time when the Giggleback Kidz would have been a thing).
Beyond the themes, I feel things got a bit more shaky. Some of the performances lacked grounding, characters weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been and the sometimes overwhelming sound combined with the size of the space was difficult to adjust to. All of this was at least partially tackled by the energy of the show however, and it was very engaging, funny and sincere. To their credit also, the music composition (which was collaborative) was very good, and the songs were well put together, varied and interesting. Lana Bellingham-Young’s direction was effective, and the staging and use of space was strong.
The piece had a surprisingly strong rise and dissipation of tension, and carried through its storytelling in a way that was unexpected. Because it operates primarily with individual songs, I expected more of an episodic structure and use of tensions, but it drove through from start to finish, which left me feeling as though the entire show flew by, in a good way.
Ultimately, this show was enjoyable and silly, but made room for some cool thematic exploration, which, at that point, was just a bonus. It hit surprisingly hard in its portrayal of the damages of success, but was mostly just a massive amount of fun.
Tickets available at: http://anywherefest.com/event/giggleback-kidz-the-reunion-tour/2016-05-19/