Last night, Graeme and I went to see the new Australian musical based on the Eurovision Song Contest, Eurobeat, and we can both highly recommend it. Although you’d definitely enjoy it more if you know and love Eurovision, you really don’t have to be a fan to enjoy it.
And while there were a lot of people who were clearly big fans, and got all the in-jokes, I’m guessing there were a lot of people attending who just thought it would be good fun. Unfortunately, a lot of Australians fall into the “oh it’s all so camp and tacky” mistake, lumping Eurovision together with ABBA, disco, drag queens and the like. And I guess, Eurobeat does that too, but in a loving manner.
Eurobeat has clearly been written by people who feel some affection towards Eurovision, or at least by people with an intimate knowledge of some of the recent Eurovision controversies. They know, for example, the UK has produced some dud songs in recent years, and they’ve incorporated this into the musical. But they don’t appear to be “taking the piss” in a malicious kind of way.
The basic premise for Eurobeat is that we’re attending Eurovision, broadcast live around the world from war-torn Sarajevo. Julia Zemiro as Bronya, the co-host (“I sing, I dance, I read the news”) is terrific. There’s also a dancer/singer called Nathan Wright who performed with such energy and enthusiasm that he managed to capture the heart of most of the audience. But most of all, this is a great ensemble show, with no one really seeking the limelight, all of them just working together to ensure everyone has a great deal of fun.
Particular favourites for me included, the Hungarian contestants (reminding me of the large Austrian woman who keeps bowing in “The Sound Of Music”), the Russian boy band, KGBoyz and the Yello/Kraftwerk inspired trio from Liechtenstein. Dressed in outfits similar to the Wiggles, and deconstructing the Eurovision Song Contest in that central European kind of way, they performed a song without words which was hillarious.
Greece was also popular with the audience, with a Nana Mouskouri-style character who transforms herself into one of those Southern European “sex vixens” we have all come to know in recent years. Disturbingly, like a number of other songs, including I Love to Love to Love (Love), Don’t Say “Ti Amo” and La La La, this could well actually be a serious contender. I guess the only act the audience was a little luke-warm about was the Bjork-inspired act from Iceland.
At the end of the first half, the audience is invited to vote. On the night we attended, for the first time, the Swedish ABBA-style quartet (owing more to Alcazar, than ABBA in my view) were the winners. After intermission, we then crossed “via video link” around Europe for the individual country results, drawing upon some very funny Eurovision stereotypes.
Overall, a terrific show, loads of fun, and highly recommended.