At every stop of its festival circuit Choir Girl has received rave reviews. It’s no surprise then, that despite the blistering heat, the show still managed to attract a sold out audience at this year’s Adelaide Fringe Festival.
The Adelaide audience eagerly lapped up the tale of Susan, a chorister caught within a constant cycle of rejection. Her striking alto voice was immediately evident, and then emerged the manipulative, overbearing and precious qualities. Not to mention her stalker tendencies and penchant for pyromania.
The events that play out in Choir Girl may seem incredulously farcical, but it’s based upon writer and lead performer Sarah Collins’ own experiences.
“I used to sing in choirs, and my grandma sang in the Toowoomba Choral Society for 66 years. She left last year because she didn’t like the new conductor. There were all these petty politics and hate mail from other members about her leaving.”
Difficult though it is to believe, these very real scenarios have been sewn together in what has become a satirical exploration of choral dynamics. It’s a bizarre foundation from which audience members – “mainly choir types and musicians” Collins admits – can reflect irreverently upon themselves.
Independent theatre company Attic Erratic provided a great support network during the show’s creative process. A collaborative artistic approach, with director Celeste Cody, saw Choir Girl blossom from a solo play to a musical comedy complete with a backing choir. Still, Collins has put a lot on the line as creator and lead performer.
“There is so much pressure, I don’t know why I do it to myself. When you write something, you’re so attached to it in an artistic sense rather than an egotistical one. I think to myself, ‘Oh my God, am I going to be the destruction of the work I’m so proud of’.”
Next month Choir Girl graduates from fringe to festival. After seasons at the Melbourne and Adelaide fringes and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the show received a personal invitation from Artistic Director Edwina Lunn to join the Darwin Festival program, where Collins will perform with a local Darwin choir.
Also on the cards is a tour to Edinburgh, a slice of the Big Apple, and a possible television adaptation. What began as a small fringe production is undoubtedly on the path to big success.