Fangirls Review


The hit 2019 musical Fangirls—Yve Blake’s love letter to teenage girls and their passions—is back for a third production in four years, and if those stats aren’t enough to convince you to buy a ticket, then I don’t know what will. 

The cast of Fangirls, 2022. Photo by Dayna Ransley.

14-year-old Edna is, like, in LOVE in love with Harry (Blake Appelqvist), the lead singer of world-famous UK boyband True Connection. A scholarship student at a new school struggling with friendships, Edna finds comfort and connection listening to Harry’s music. So, when Harry’s world tour comes to Sydney, she literally has to meet him—no matter what it takes. 

Blake wrote the book, music and lyrics, and her writing remains the most authentic depiction of teenagers, social media and online fan communities that I’ve ever seen on stage. It’s no wonder this show is resonating so strongly with young people, particularly young women. 

After staging the first two productions on the thrust stages of Belvoir and the Seymour Centre, Director Paige Rattray has brought Fangirls to the Sydney Opera House’s Drama Theatre. This traditional proscenium stage is a big improvement, better showing off Leonard Mickelo’s choreography, and David Fleischer and Justin Harrison’s inventive video designs. 

Rattray has totally recast for Fangirls’ third run, with Manali Datar leading the show brilliantly as the giddy and youthful Edna, with an impressive vocal belt. The entire ensemble brings boatloads of talent and humour, but the hilarious Mel O’Brien is a clear crowd-favourite.

The cast of Fangirls, 2022. Photo by Dayna Ransley.

Through True Connection’s witty songs, Blake successfully satirises the shallow, pandering lyricism of a lot of mainstream pop, delivering such zingers as “We are the generation whose gonna make all the change” and “I like your fingertips, I like your soul, Thinking of your messy hair, I’m like: Woah”.

However, the script begins to falter when reconciling the hilarious and farcical kidnapping plotline, with the serious themes it wants to discuss. The second, weaker, act introduces and carries several weightier themes like sexism, self-harm, and body dysmorphia, which doesn’t fully align with the joyous, silly tone established in the first hour. Additionally, the show’s final moments feel very rushed— wrapping up the high-stakes plot line quickly and a little unsatisfyingly. 

I don’t want these nit-picks to detract from what is an incredibly enjoyable and successful show. Rather, I flag these dramaturgical issues because I truly believe Fangirls has the potential to play on a Broadway stage one day, and hope it continues to grow and improve with each iteration. Fangirls is a joyful, hilarious show that demonstrates an incisive understanding of contemporary fandom culture in the internet age, and I can’t wait to see it staged again.

5 Stars.

Jo, 23 [she/her]



Making its Sydney Opera House debut after a national tour last year, Fangirls, written by Yve Blake (she/her), is an incredibly hilarious and heartwarming story that has you laughing and cheering and sobbing all within seconds.

Blake Appelqvist in Fangirls, 2022. Photo by Dayna Ransley.

Described as a “Beyoncé concert meets a rave meets church”, Fangirls is a musical comedy about a 14-year-old girl named Edna who is a massive fan of the lead singer of True Connection, Harry. After a failed attempt at getting tickets for the True Connection Australian tour, Edna goes to extremes to make sure she sees Harry in real life.

Some standout performances included (but not limited to because honestly, I could talk about how perfect this whole cast is for ages) Blake Appelqvist (they/them) as True Connection’s lead singer, Harry. Their captivating and energetic performance transported me back to me in 2014, squealing and crying at concert videos in my room. Manali Datar (she/her) as 14-year-old true connection fan, Edna, whose stunning vocal skill and moving portrayal of the character left me in tears, and Mel O’Brien (she/her) who plays 10-year-old fan, Lily. Her voice and her comedy skills were beyond impressive.

Danielle Barnes, Mel O’Brien, and Jesse Dutlow in Fangirls, 2022. Photo by Dayna Ransley.

Overall, Fangirls is about not being ashamed of the things or people you love. It tells young girls that they don’t have to change or try to make themselves ‘good enough’ to be worthy of love or happiness and addresses the double standard between masculine and feminine love and obsession.

With the incredible performances from the cast, the songs, the audience energy and spectacular lighting and visual design, Fangirls is a must-see for anyone in Sydney but especially for teenagers who have been in, and still are in, fandom spaces and communities.

5 Stars.

Jollee, 17 [she/they]

Belvoir’s Fangirls plays at the Sydney Opera House until the 4th September. Buy tickets here.