Dani Girl: The Story of One Girl’s Quest for Cool Blonde Headgear

Greetings goosebumps & fairy winkles,
After an extended leave of absence to perform in a show I’m back & blogging again.  You’re welcome.  Once again those wonderful folks over at Review Brisbane have sent me off to another piece of local Brisbane theatre in the hope I will load my opinion into a shotgun & fire it at your head & by that I mean write a review about it.  You’re welcome.  And so without Feathers of Dew I give you…

Dani Girl: The Review

Executive Summary: Sometimes the only thing you can say is “Thank you”.

Review: To begin with I’d once again like to lay everything out on the line honestly.  The makers & some of the stars of this show are my friends so, naturally, there is a chance I’m going to have a bias.  If you have a problem with this fact then I’m going to need you to build a bridge & go jump.  If you are able to put that aside then let’s begin.

Before Harvest Rain‘s production I had never heard of Dani Girl.  I did a small amount of research on the show to find out the basic idea behind it.  Basically, the story is about a girl with leukemia who loses her hair & embarks upon an imaginary journey to get it back.  From this I knew two things for absolute certain:

  1. It was not going to be funny.
  2. It was not going to be funny.

After watching the show I learned one thing:

  1. It was funny.

Seriously, as morose as it sounds, Michael Kooman & Christopher Dimond have managed to write a musical that delves into the horrific issue of childhood leukemia yet still keep it light-hearted enough so you don’t feel like slitting your wrists halfway through the first song.  You continually find yourself fighting back tears just seconds after laughing your head off.  Not all of the credit for this can go to the writers.  The cast does a wonderful job of delivering this work.  The four stars (& I use the term very deliberately) Juanita Ellis-Gloster, Heidi Enchelmaier, Shaun Kohlman & Tyson Stuetz are all part of Harvest Rain’s intern program (at least I think they all are.  I did less research on that fact than I do on most of my “facts”.) &, if I’m being completely honest, do lack a little in stage experience.  This is not to say they aren’t far advanced over many others of a similar age & with similar amounts of stage time under their belts, because they are.  The only real reason I mention their lack of experience is because of the positives it brings.  All of them are completely fearless on stage.  Many of the character choices they made could have gone really wrong if they were made by someone with just a little more experience who would have played things a little more safely.  In order for 18 year olds to convince the audience they are 9 they have to be as fearless &, well, inexperienced on stage as a 9 year old is in life.  This means that, in general, something that would normally be considered a weakness kind of works as a strength.

Before even stepping into the theatre tonight I was pretty sure this was going to be a bit of a tear jerker, or at least it was intended to be.  Just because something is intended to be sad doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to pluck the required heart-strings.  I really wasn’t sure if they were going to be able to pull it off but the second Enchelmaier sang her first notes I felt a lump rising in my throat.  I was amazed at how instantly I believed she was a child.  Exactly the same compliment can be made of Kohlman.  These two fill the stage with a beautiful chemistry that really provides a fantastic foundation on which the show builds itself.  Special mention must be made of Kohlman’s rendition of Why I Love The Movies.  Perhaps it’s just because I would love to sing the song myself but it simply tore my heart out.

Stuetz is hilarious as Raph.  He posses the amazing ability to look like an English butler when standing with the added bonus of being able to morph into an earthworm when needed.  His versatility is a real asset to the show & many of his laughs stemed not from his script but from his portrayal & for this he should be applauded.  Ellis-Gloster performed admirably in what I think is the hardest role of the show, the mother.  Amidst all the craziness & immaturity of the other characters she has to remind us that what we are seeing does have a realistic side.  She also has the un-enviable job of having to walk the fine line between being constantly worried without becoming whiny & annoying.  Her solo towards the end of the show was also one of the highlights.

Finally, a hearty congratulations has to go to debutant director Carmen Glanville & her production team.  Her direction shows wisdom beyond her years.  I loved basically everything about her vision for Dani Girl.  It was heartfelt, honest & raw.  In short, everything it needed to be.  The set design was beautiful in its simplicity & whoever did the lighting design needs an award.  It was really clever & made you complete forget you were sitting in shed.

Who Should See It:
-Those in the mood for a good cry
-Those in the mood for a good laugh
-Anyone wanting to support emerging artists

Who Shouldn’t See It:
-People looking for big lights & loud bangs
-People too young or immature to really get what it’s about
-Small, half-breed spider-goats who got lost on their way to the circus

I hope everyone goes along to see this show while it is still showing as these guys deserve packed houses.  Feel free to leave comments if you do.

PERFORMANCES
26th – 29th May 2010
Wed to Sat 7.30pm

VENUE
Mina Parade Warehouse
81 Mina Parade, Alderley QLD

TICKETS
All tickets $15.00

Unless there is ever a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Slightly Oversized, Indian Head Dress Shoveler

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2 Responses to “Dani Girl: The Story of One Girl’s Quest for Cool Blonde Headgear”

  1. Sounds like it was a great production. Thanks for the thoughtful review.

    -michael kooman

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