Wrecking Ball (The Little Red Company)
June 18 – 19
As the band begins with Little Big Town’s ‘Bones’ on a stage scattered with hay bales, it is clear that the cabaret parody show “Wrecking Ball’ has a country setting. In fact, the location is Nashville and the occasion is the funeral of Hannah Montana, Miley’s Cyrus’s squeaky clean, country-sweetheart, Nickelodeon alter-ego.
The first number also hints at the focus of the show’s attempt to provide insight into Cyrus’s world, with lines like, ‘you can’t hide from your demons, feel them all lurking around.’ And as Miley (Naomi Price) stumbles in, glass of wine in hand, to launch into her ‘The Climb’, telling the audience of ‘the voice inside her head saying you’ll never reach it’, the theme is certainly clear, as with Nashville twang, she assures us that if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain.
But death is such a party pooper, so along with the yearning of songs such a heartrending rendition of ‘Wrecking Ball’, is the boppiness of ‘Party in the USA’, with some tongue-out action and foam finger antics thrown in for good measure. The highlight is a cheeky medley of songs from other performers like Miley’s godmother Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’, her one-hit-wonder dad Billy Ray’s ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ and Alan Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’, with which she is so notoriously associated. And while the Miley on stage is rude, crude and full of sass, she also has a charisma and infectious vitality thanks to Price’s always energetic performance.
Like all cabaret, there is a balance of music and commentary. Sometimes it feels like we’re discretely overhearing the singer’s internal thoughts while being addressed directly at the same time. And the songs are chosen to perfectly chronicle Miley’s story and reflection on who she was before the world told her who she should be. The result is a sympathetic and compassionate portrait which urges to follow your arrow wherever it points (to borrow from Kacey Musgraves’ song, which also features in the show), making its presentation as part of WoW (Women of the World)’s Brisbane Festival celebration of the achievements of women from all walks of life, entirely appropriate. Regardless, however, of whether you believe Miley to be brilliant or bonkers, “Wrecking Ball” is a bangerz night of cabaret fun from a wonderful performer who certainly know how to twerk it out.