Don’t expect to see the John Travolta / Olivia Newton-John version next month. While the show features all of the familiar tunes and memorable moves, audiences can expect a few twists and turns in the reimagined production.
A young troupe of musical theater students breathes new life into the show, tackling issues such as gender inequality, toxic masculinity and homophobia head-on.
According to Bachelor of Music Theater student Beau Wharton, “It’s not your parents Fat or sing – it’s serious, fun and real.
Beau plays Miss Lynch – a role traditionally played by a female performer.
“I worked hard to make sure it wasn’t a parody and tried to find the truth in the character,” they said.
Hailed as one of the greatest movie musicals of all time, the series has won over generations of fans with its hit songs, energetic dance numbers and iconic characters.
Beau said it was exciting to update the show for a new generation of viewers.
“We’re not watering down anything about the show, but we’re approaching these themes and stories from different angles than audiences are used to,” they said.
“It’s not about sweeping things under the rug. It’s been a very well thought out and collaborative process to find the best way to tell this story in 2021.
“Going into the rehearsal room and building this show from scratch allowed us to relate to the characters and put our own stamp on them.
“For all of us who want to lobby for a more tolerant and tolerant society, studying at Griffith and being part of the musical theater program has allowed us to open these conversations.”
Musical theater student Carla Beard plays one of the T-Birds, a role typically played by a male performer.
“It’s great to break free from the traditional male / female cast,” she said.
“I think our generation has all of these conversations, and the arts tend to be at the forefront of all of these social movements.
“It’s good to know that after we graduate we can demand more from the industry. “
The creative team is led by a Melbourne-based theater director Alister smith, musical director Heidi Loveland and choreographer Dan Venz.
Mr Smith said the creative team worked with students on a modern take on the show, leaning into satire and using a diverse cast.
“Fat is a satire musical that challenges social rules and the generation gap by exploring sexuality and gender equality through the eyes of these 1950s teens, ”he said.
“A lot of re-imagining this revival has been about crossing the genre of multiple characters, refocusing the focus of the story, and giving modern audiences a way to relive the series.”
Ms Loveland said the production composed the music as well – capturing the raw, rebellious vibe of the original Broadway show.
“This music is so iconic and everyone has a memory and a connection to it, but as soon as you start investigating the lyrics you realize this music is about protest and rebellion. These are teenagers getting up to say “it’s our time”.
Ms Loveland said it was inspiring to work with musical theater students to reinterpret the script and score for a modern audience.
“Looking at Sandy’s transformation, it was really important that it was about personal growth, as opposed to peer pressure or trying to please a man,” she said.
“We are fortunate to have a very determined group of students who got involved in the script and the lyrics to create an honest and vital show.”
Head of Performing Arts Professor Paul Sabey said the Queensland Conservatorium is committed to solving social issues through performance.
“The arts have the potential to bring together different perspectives and encourage people to think about the challenges our society faces – from gender equity to social injustice. “
The hit production will feature a double cast of over 70 students, involving the entire musical theater cohort, accompanied by musicians from the Queensland Conservatorium.
Fat is taking place at the Queensland Conservatorium Theater, South Bank from August 5-14. Tickets are available at Queensland Conservatory website.