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‘Wishlist’ musical Fangirls to grace The Playhouse

Having been on the Canberra Theatre’s wishlist since it debuted in 2019, dreams will come true later this month when hit Australian musical Fangirls graces The Playhouse boards.

Part concert part musical, Fangirls follows 14-year-old Edna (Karis Oka), who is head over heels infatuated with boyband superstar Harry.

Created and written by Yve Blake with direction by Paige Rattray, Fangirls premiered in 2019 with a sell-out season.

Both new members of the cast for the 2021 tour, Oka and onstage swing, Tomáš Kantor, spoke to Canberra Weekly directly after a matinee show for school kids during their Adelaide Festival run.

Kantor said he loves performing for audiences aged similarly to the characters depicted in Fangirls.

“I think Fangirls beautifully captures the age of these characters, between 12 and 16,” he said.

“When we have school audience coming, they respond to seeing themselves authentically depicted on age.”

This marks Kantor’s professional on-stage debut. He joined the cast as an onstage swing, which sees him understudy a few lead roles and perform on the ensemble track.

“It’s such an amazing space to enter the industry because I really care about young Australian storytelling,” he said.

“It’s so inclusive and sets the bar so high for me.”

Fangirls musical Tomáš Kantor
Fangirls’ onstage swing Tomáš Kantor (left) said the experience of making his onstage debut with this production has been an “awesome way to enter the industry”. Photo: Brett Boardman.

In Fangirls’ initial 2019 run, creator Yve Blake played the lead role of Edna.

Oka took over for the 2021 season at Sydney’s Seymour Centre and the subsequent national tour.

She said stepping into the shoes previously filled by the work’s creator was at once both daunting and exciting.

“It is a scary thing,” she said. “I was totally scared coming into it.

“From the get-go, Yve was reaching out to me and supporting me and very much giving me permission to not follow in her footsteps and make the role my own.”

Having spent some time in the role, Oka said she’s still learning more about Edna, a role semi-based on Blake, with each performance.

“The character is easy for anyone to identify with because it’s just a teenager who loves something,” she said.

“So, anyone could be Edna if you loved something hard enough, and I think that has been the anchor into the character.”

Fangirls comes to Canberra Theatre Centre, 24-28 March; canberratheatrecentre.com.au

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