Most self-confessed nerds wouldn’t relive their adolescence for all the dungeons and dragons experience points in the world but that’s exactly what Matthew Whittet plans on doing before a live audience at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. “The best things for theatre and making people laugh is to be ridiculous and honest about yourself. I reckon the teenage years are pretty good for showing yourself in that worst possible light.”
Matthew not only wrote the musical comedy but will star alongside Jonathan Oxlade (also the set designer) and Luke Smiles (also the composer) as the three hopeless geeks fumbling their way through that great endgame of adolescence: the high school dance. With three protagonists’ names as Matt, Jonathan and Luke, there are no prizes for guessing School Dance is more than a little autobiographical.
Besides drawing on their real-life high school heartaches and triumphs, School Dance features a My Little Pony-inspired talking unicorn and even an onstage BMX bike chase as a homage to 1980s films like E.T. “There’s something about some of those ’80s films like Sixteen Candles, something slightly dream-like about the way John Hughes viewed those teenage years and how important they are.” Befittingly, the score for School Dance is stacked with 1980s pop gold. “There’s a bit of Spandau Ballet in there, a bit of Devo and a bit of Bronski Beat finds its way in.”
But will those who hit their teenage years before or after the '80s be able to really get it? “If you get the references you just get an extra layer of humour but even if you don’t, there’s a whole other world of things to understand and take away from the show. Even though it’s set in the '80s it has a universal appeal in terms of the stupidity of it all.”
Don't limit yourself to being an audience member, though, with pre and post-show entertainment to get you warmed up and cooled down. Join the Real Hot Bitches in an '80s dance routine from 5.45pm and feel free to grab some leg warmers and lycra to make sure you blend in with the crowd. DJ Andrew McClelland will be fronting the flashbacks with all the best of the '80s before you settle in to the performance.
Post-show, stick around for the School Dance Happy Snaps so you can have your very own awkward school dance Polaroid taken. A bit of a keepsake to prove you too can look pretty in pink...or not.
School Dance earworms to brace yourself for...
'Holding Out for a Hero', Bonnie Tyler – Nerd escapes bully in an onstage BMX bike chase
'The Girl You Want', Devo – Girl walks past nerd and nerd becomes invisible by way of a black-sequined unitard
'Gold', Spandau Ballet – Nerd is triumphant. Or is he? We can’t give too much away