Local Adelaide gal, award-winning cabaret performer, community artist, and ukulady Phi Theodoros has had an illustrious 2018 at Adelaide Fringe (interview), Adelaide Cabaret Fringe (review), and Feast Festival (review) and now, the storyteller, musician, and pet is back with her first-ever solo cabaret show Who Is The Ukulele Dream Girl?.
Not one to shy away from initiating conversations that used to be considered ‘taboo’, Theodoros presents her theatrical productions with an aim to share stories and shift stigma in a manner that will take her audiences on a journey of unexpected expression.
In anticipation of her upcoming performance that kicks off this weekend at the Bakehouse Theatre, I chatted with Theodoros about how this show came into fruition and what her audiences can expect from her show – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming show Who Is The Ukulele Dream Girl?
Phi: Who is the Ukulele Dream Girl?” at the Bakehouse Theatre Studio is a show that aims to explore themes around expectations, self empowerment & community through poetry, music and storytelling. I want this show to encourage audiences to look at what’s holding them back in their lives and to inspire them to move forward.
Tema: Who are the key individuals involved in your show?
Phi: This is my first ever solo cabaret show… so, it’s basically just me! I’m handling all the writing, musical arrangements, promotions, and performing – the life of a self-produced artist! I need to give big thanks to Ross Voss from Adapt Enterprises for his support with the project, because without him, this project wouldn’t be happening at all!
Tema: What made you decide on setting up this show?
Phi: Earlier this year, I was catching up with Ross, with whom I’ve worked previously in theatre and variety shows, as well as community events and workshops. He had just heard from the Bakehouse about an expression of interest booking he had for August and he was looking to program something different in those weeks. I was looking for a new creative project and had been exploring the idea of re-branding my performance name to “Ukulele Dream Girl”.
Tema: What concepts are explored throughout the show?
Phi: I’ll be honest – I had a mini meltdown when I started writing this show! I was worried that after co-writing amazing works in 2018 and performing with a band of very strong musicians behind me that no-one would pay to see me talking about me. I then explored those feelings more and these expectations that I was putting on myself. I knew that I needed to address the pressure that the world puts on us and, in turn, the pressure we put on ourselves in this show. Slowly but surely, I started to reflect on all of the things that are important to me in my life right now and gathered some of my favourite songs (original and cover) and put together a show that explores expectations, self empowerment and community.
Tema: How does it feel to perform independently (while not being associated with any Festival) this time?
Phi: I performed in 3 festivals back-to-back last year, presenting new content each time. It was exciting and a fantastic way to connect with new artists and audiences. But, it was also totally exhausting! Working independently at a time that is perhaps less peak for performing arts, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to connect with new people. I wonder if my audiences will be more theatre-goers than fringe/festival audiences. I’m interested to see how they respond to my work in a formal theatre as well, given most of my work has been in temporary Fringe style venues.
Tema: Who is the target audience for your show?
Phi: People that grew up in and loved the 90s will definitely enjoy the show. Millennials who feel that things are getting a little bleak will also relate to a lot of the content. That said, my most engaged audience across the shows last year were often older and I think that the sentiments I explore around the need for real connection and community will resonate with this audience too. Essentially, nostalgic hipsters who love 90s bangers, ukuleles, and indoor plants can come along and bring their parents. All generations welcome!
Tema: What can audiences anticipate from your show?
Phi: We’re going to get real, we’re going to sing along to classic tunes and some originals as well. We’ll be analyzing the world at this point in time and chatting about how great ukulele and plants are.
Tema: What are you hoping for your audiences to experience from attending your show?
Phi: For people who have seen my shows before, there will be the same focus on sharing taboo conversations through poetry, music, and storytelling. But, this show will have more lighthearted moments than some of my previous work. For the first time, I’m playing a character that is essentially myself, so, I hope it’s work that they will find relatable, challenging at times, moving at other moments, and ultimately inspiring for them to make bold, new choices to embrace who they need to be.
Tema: How did you score the venue for your show and what made you choose this space in particular?
Phi: This show wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for the relationship between Ross Voss and the Bakehouse Theatre. Our catchup earlier in the year really transformed my plans as a performing artist. I’m excited to be presenting my first solo show at The Bakehouse Theatre – I love this venue and feel like it’s a great next step in my artistic journey! I think the studio space will be perfect for what I like to share – it’s a versatile and intimate space for me to build connection and shake up stigma through story and song.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like us to know about your show?
Phi: When I took on this project, I wasn’t sure what it would become. I knew I wanted to challenge myself and do something a bit different. It’s transformed into something that I’m really proud of and my test audiences have given some pretty incredible feedback. I’m excited to share this show with people and really hope that some of my messages leave people feeling empowered to make positive changes in their lives. The biggest question is not, “Who is the Ukulele Dream Girl?” but rather, “Who is she going to be?”
What? Who is the Ukulele Dream Girl? – A theatre production
Where? Bakehouse Theatre (255 Angas Street, Adelaide SA 5000)
When? August 16, 17, 23, 24 at 8:30pm
How much? $25 (adults), $20 (concession)
Buy tix here
Photography by Jewel Chenoweth