From Miley Cyrus to Lady Gaga – the world of SuperGirly!
From Miley Cyrus to Lady Gaga, Stephen A Russell talks to, Lulu McClatchy, the woman behind SuperGirly.
Australian actor, singer and comedian Lulu McClatchy gave birth to what would later become SuperGirly while working in the UK, singing to mostly disinterested crowds in pubs and restaurants. Bored with the monotony of it all, she started to swap the lyrics to well-known songs with snarky jokes instead, ostensibly to see if anyone noticed.
It was the start of something huge. The eager Edinburgh Festival crowd and the vibrant gay scene in London took notice of this irreverent slice of pop mayhem, with everyone from Kylie to Madonna and the Spice Girls to All Saints in her sights. A string of shows followed, and McClatchy even landed her own sitcom for a while, as well as appearing on the Australian leg of Elton John’s 2002 world tour.
Back home in Melbourne, McClatchy teamed up with theatre production company Lab Kelpie for last year’s wildly successful adaptation of Neil Labute’s searing comedy Fat Pig (about to tour nationally), obliterating the body beautiful myth. Starring alongside producer Lyall Brooks, the chemistry between them was electric.
It’s no surprise, then, that she’s roped him in to appear in Supergirly’s latest outing at Prahran’s Chapel Off Chapel theatre, where he’s forced to play the celebrities her deluded alter ego fantasises about meeting.
“It started out as Lyall coming on board to produce, then it was ‘could you do a number?’” McClatchy says. “Now it’s turned into ‘you are now my manslave for the entire show’.”
Thrown into the froth and fizzle of confected pop, Brooks is playing well outside his comfort zone. “I’ve done music theatre cabaret stuff before, but I’m not a pop singer, so that chemistry is all I really needed to do it,” he says.
“I keep trying to pash him again, but he wont let me,” McClatchy laughs. “You don’t get someone like Lyall to come in and do one song.”
In preparation for the show, McClatchy sang her entire 100-strong plus repertoire for Brooks, ditching numbers that felt a bit dated and adding in new ones from the current pop crop, taking in everyone from the twerking ball that is Miley Cyrus to the fireworks of Katy Perry, the paparazzi antics of Lady Gaga to good old Britney Spears just one more time.
When she first heard Lorde’s Royals she loved the song, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. “When she hit the Grammy’s and started getting awards I thought yeah, it’s fair game now. One Direction are in there now too. It’s more about the people that go to their concerts.”
Listen to SuperGirly's 'Your son will come out tomorrow'
Tongue held firmly firmly in cheek, there’s a genuine love lurking behind McClatchy’s lampooning, but the die-hard followers don’t always see it that way.
“The fans do heckle, occasionally,” she says. There are also demands for certain celebs to show up. “They just yell out randomly ‘KYLIE’,” she laughs, wickedly. “You’re at the wrong show. I pay my dancers.”
If any of the celebs get upset, McClatchy cuts the songs, but more often than not, they’re tickled. She once ran into Ms. Minogue at a function in the UK, “She said, ‘I heard you do pop piss takes, that’s practically what I do anyway’.”
This OTT pop world was in hyper-drive when Supergirly surfaced during the 90s. “Girl bands were huge at the time and it was really entertaining,” McClatchy says. “You had the Spice Girls, All Saints, Lolly and Billie Piper. It was great timing to take the piss out of it all. They were almost taking the micky out of themselves.”
Adapting the show for Chapel off Chapel, rather than a more traditional comedy club or cabaret setting, brought its own challenges. “In the past I didn’t really know what I was saying in between the pop songs, but this time I’ve had to,” McClatchy says. “I have to know where I’m going to be for lighting queues.”
Brooks jokes that he came to her with an, “arty wanky idea,” about finding the narrative, but the mayhem persists. “Anything that comes up, we can put in,” McClatchy says. “There’s always something going on in pop so you can’t be too rigid. [Eurovision winner] Conchita is already on the Facebook page, and Lyall already has the beard.”
[Image] Lyall Brooks and Lulu McClatchy in Supergirly.
SuperGirly, Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street Prahran, May 27 – June 8, www.chapeloffchapel.com.au