We all know Britney Spears to be the Pop Princess with a turbulent life story. While being one of the most celebrated stars of our time, her story also comes with a clear moral of the perils of rising to the heights of global fame too young. Now, she’s not alone in this but it could be argued that Britney’s air of simple naivety does make her at least more likeable
than the other stars that have succumbed to a similar fate, cough-Lindsay Lohan-cough.
Britney Spears: The Cabaret was written and directed by Dean Bryant back in 2009 with the music accompaniment created and performed by Matthew Frank. The show stars Christie Whelan Browne who gives a stunning performance as Britney Spears in her cabaret debut as you’ve never seen her before: no autotune, no backing dancers and no live animals.
Browne gives us a satirical, genuinely hilarious and, at times, calamitous confessional that takes us through the star’s life from young starlet to hospitalised mother-of-two having her children taken out of her care. Throw in the odd cheap sex joke and you’ve got a winner.
Having already had good reviews and a tour in Australia, this really shows that Britney Spears has a universal appeal for global audiences. However, they’re not just relying on Britney’s name and songs to entertain the audience, Bryant’s script had the theatre filled with the sound of raucous laughter. The intimate space and cultural references made the audience feel like an insider. Bryant’s script did what was intended, which one would think was to make the audience reconsider the consequences of fame and the negative implications of growing up under the spotlight of celebrity. Frank created an ingenious
integration of Britney’s back catalogue (but seriously, how did they get the rights!?) used to underline and highlight the landmarks in the mapping of this starlet’s life.
Christie Whelan Browne’s vocals were flawless and her incredible comedic timing made it clear that she was the perfect choice for this piece. Matthew Frank provided the perfect accompaniment for the audience to rest on between the erratic confessional. Reimagining well-known pop songs into jazzy acoustic songs to be played on a grand piano.
My personal highlight was the ‘Slave for You’ section. The decision to have a woman in her thirties wearing a tight black dress playing an 8 year old in a pageant singing the lyrics to Slave for you was just genius. It was so uncomfortable yet really highlighted the catalyst to Britney’s later downfall. Her pushy Mother.
Browne and Frank received a well deserved standing ovation at the close of the show, to which Browne walked back to in her underwear with a cigarette in one hand and a Red Bull in the other. Dressed like that she still managed to pull on some heart strings with the final number of ‘Everytime’ to close the show.
You can still catch Britney Spears: The Cabaret at The Other Palace in London until Saturday 9th September. If you’re looking for some lighthearted fun with some incredible vocals I would absolutely suggest that you see it.
And so, though I loved it, I can’t help but wonder: what would Britney think?