You meet an awful lot of people in showbusiness, characters from all walks of life, rich with experiences and brimming with stories. These “show people” are an interesting bunch, sometimes they come in the forms of a bohemian artist, or a naïve theatre school graduate, or perhaps a veteran of the stage with the hard-earned wisdom that only time can afford.

Somehow, Australian leading lady and all-round star, Christie Whelan-Browne manages to embody all these characters over the course of her 75-minute one-woman show, Show People. Known for her recent work with the Melbourne Theatre Company in As You Like It, and for her impressive resume of musical theatre credits including her Helpmann nominated performance as Tania Degano in Muriel’s Wedding, Whelan-Browne is simply delightful on stage.

Returning to Chapel off Chapel in this cabaret style performance, Whelan-Browne is accompanied by Matthew Frank and directed by Dean Bryant in a show-stopping performance that touches upon both the big and small moments that make up who really is a “show person”.

Beginning with the aforementioned recent theatre school graduate, Whelan-Brown embraces the naïve confidence of a 21-year-old with all the energy of an excited puppy and more confidence than sense before moving through the various stages of characters of the theatre world. From disgruntled understudies to stars with the world at their feet, Whelan-Browne finds the heart of these people within moments. Her ability to shapeshift from “Hot Chorus Boy” to bonafide superstar is nothing short of extraordinary as is her ability to face sensitive subjects directly with her portrayal of “the leading man”, a character so abhorrent and misogynistic he could have been ripped straight from the headlines.

What is most engaging about Show People is that Whelan-Browne doesn’t shy away from the difficult, awkward, pain, sadness and disappointment that comes with being a show person. Rather she takes it and presents it as simply another part of the job. Perhaps as the “Fading Diva” this most evident, who after 40+ years in the industry, knockbacks and rejections, still remains hopeful for the future.

This is the essence of Whelan-Browne’s performance – hope. There is no bitterness, no anger, but rather a deep respect for the showbiz industry. And while it is without a doubt that Whelan-Browne is a superb actor, I would have loved to have seen Mathew Frank utilised more on the piano and the opportunity to hear Whelan-Browne sing to greater extent.

Complemented by a minimalist set, and basic costume changes, Show People is a return to the classic form of cabaret from an absolute star of the genre.

Event details

Show People
Christie Whelan-Browne

Director Dean Bryant

Venue: Chapel off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran VIC
Dates: 15 June 2022 – 18 June 2022
Tickets: $59
Bookings: chapeloffchapel.com.au

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