The success or failure of an autobiographical cabaret show is not dependent on the person’s achievements, scandals or even their prominence. Of course, scandals sell tabloids, but honesty and humility are the key ingredients in this delicate cabaret form. Rachael Beck, one of the darlings of Australian musical theatre, always performs with honesty and humility, and the result is a truly engaging account of the various roles, and life roles, of an amazing woman.
Rachael Beck’s This Girl,a cabaret show sharing the name of her recently released debut solo album, is an enchanting insight into the life of a lady who has been in the limelight since the tender age of 13. We travel with Beck through her formative years, where she was seemingly unbeatable at the local eisteddfods with her Sesame Street inspired routine, through her child prodigy years in CATS, onto her ‘girl-next-door’ phase in Hey Dad! and beyond.
With all of this experience behind her, it is clear that Rachael Beck belongs on the stage. The ease of her dialogue delivery, which links her various life events with the musical score, is artful. There are times however, when the dialogue and the music are curiously incongruent, giving the impression of two competing shows running in parallel: ‘This is the story of my life’ and ‘This is an album I’ve just released’. But in all honesty, who cares?
Rachael Beck’s voice is the star of the show. Her rendition of Send in the Clowns was stirring, her I Dreamed a Dream was haunting and her One Hand One Heart was pure and simple. The duets with Michael Cormick were both charming (Sun and Moon and State of the Heart) and provided an excellent device to corroborate Beck’s history through a reliable third party. This Girl also provided the opportunity for Beck to delve outside the world of musical theatre, and perform numbers like Rhianna’s Only Girl (In the World).
All technical aspects of the production were cohesive and the band (which occasionally employed tracks to beef out the sound of a 4 piece) was exceptional.
Rachael Beck proves that there is much, much more to this Australian musical theatre icon than meets the eye. It takes hard work, head aches and heart aches to play a Disney princess – and even then, you don’t always live happily every after. This Girl is forever changing.