Male Songs Mashed Up
Fresh from wowing audiences at Edinburgh Fringe, all-girl singing troupe Lady Sings It Better are back with another round of gender-bending performances, writes Bernie Burke.
For the fourth year running, Lady Sings It Better returns to the Blackcat Lounge at Mardi Gras 2013.
The feisty female cabaret group have a growing fan base, proving it last year when they played to large crowds at their month-long Edinburgh Fringe season, including headline gigs and a guest spot at the famous Speigeltent.
“We thought we’d have about four people in the audience, and no one had heard of us. But they came and said, ‘There’s people waiting outside!’ So that was a great start to our first international tour and was really thrilling,” Maeve Marsden, the group’s founder and artistic director, tells SX.
She says originally the show was a “serious and earnest” project, written for queer women to sing romantic songs; but over time has evolved with its diverse audience and changing members. The current team includes both queer and straight artists, plus shows now attract a wide variety of people.
“The more we did it, the more we realised people wanted something thoughtful, but to laugh and enjoy themselves at the same time,” she says. “The more you create energy and joy, the better. So the show’s definitely become more comedy.”
Not that it’s lost any of its quirkiness. Marsden admits she and her five co-performers all have “weird senses of humour” and that the costumes, hair and vocals have all become more over the top.
The premise of the show is women singing men’s songs, but what gets the best audience reaction is surprising.
“Singing love songs about women is one thing. But when you have a really misogynist rap and you’re singing it sweetly like an angel - that’s where you find a lot of humour. So it’s got queer themes and feminist themes. But it’s also fun and energetic.”
Enormous dedication goes into creating that energy for audiences. Rehearsing weekly without breaks, the girls have a vocal trainer, and often workshop a single line or word in a song.
“It’s cabaret, but it’s not chucked together,” Marsden says. “We really want it to be of high calibre in terms of harmony and arrangements. I think that’s what sets us apart. The people are laughing, but they’re also hearing quite inventive arrangements of the songs.”
This year there will be plenty of new numbers combined with some old favourites.
After four years, can the Lady Sings It Better team still shock?
“Yes,” giggles Marsden. “We always get some surprised faces.”
[Image] Maeve Marsden (far left) with Lady Sings It Better. Photo: Viv McGregor
Lady Sings It Better, February 14, 23-24, Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Book: factorytheatre.com.au