The sun is sweltering, the magpies are cawing, hormones are raging and you’re waiting awkwardly for the perpetually late school bus. Michele Gould’s musical 107 will make you reminisce on the best and worst parts that come with being a teen in high school- in a Perth high school to be exact!
From the first song I had instant chills! Lukas Perez appears in the doorframe of the Blue Room’s theatre space, gently strumming a ukulele before launching, with exuberance, into the first song. There’s no slow burn here, the audience is immediately drawn into the world of 107 with rainbow lights flooding the stage that match the exact energy of, composer and writer, Michele Gould’s powerful punk rock sounds.
Lukas Perez in 107. Photography by Sophie Minissale.
The show’s four characters are gradually introduced as they each turn up to the bus stop. This almost drip feeding of characters allowed us to learn more about them as individuals, which is the show’s entire premise. The songs and dialogue focus on exploring the insecurities, passions, frustrations, and confusion felt by these four students rather than progressing a traditional plot.
Michele has written some absolute bangers that are still stuck in my head and have me craving a cast album. The songs range in tone from humorous to unexpectedly tear jerking; thank-you Melody Castledine and Sun-Mi Clyburn for that! One friend said to me post show, “That got me in the feels” and I felt the same.
Cast of 107. Photography by Sophie Minissale.
This cast is incredibly strong and share the space equally under Daley Rangi’s direction. Even when lurking in the background Ruby Short made her presence known as the biting yet insecure Charlotte who consistently had me laughing as she intimidated her classmates with a fierce glare. Melody Castledine as Joy made me audibly “aww” at her genuine naivety and sensitive soul. As the confident yet conflicted Olivia, Lukas Perez was utterly captivating and relatable. In the role of Zoe, Sun-Mi Clyburn perfectly encapsulated a character trying to keep things “cool” on the outside while dealing with something deeper underneath it all.
Daley Rangi’s direction was precise and eliminated any competing interests. Although there was no choreographed ”dancing’, there was certainly very deliberate and well executed movement that made the performance feel slick. There were many subtleties in the direction as well, which gave more life and personality to the characters.
Sun-Mi Clyburn in 107. Photography by Sophie Minissale.
This is the second time the work has been staged, previously showing in this year’s Blue Room Summer Night’s program. I have to admit I was raving about the show the first time I saw it and was eager to see what would be different this time round.
The most obvious difference was the running time, previously sitting around the 75-minute mark, it’s now been extended to 90-minutes. This extension of time has certainly allowed more songs to be inserted which is most welcome, especially with the new fuller sound of the backing tracks. Although cutting any of the songs would feel like sacrificing babies, I do think the show could benefit from a slight trimming down as it starts to feel like it’s running a tad too long.
The best changes made to the show appeared to me immediately within the opening number. As mentioned previously, the full sound and the colourful lights gave me chills combined with utter glee. Katrina Johnson perfectly balanced the show’s mixed tones with a very intentional lighting design that was playful yet dramatic. I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable at all about music producing but what Luke Minness, as music producer, has done to Michele’s already brilliant composition is great. The sound was powerful and elevated from the show’s initial run. The vocal abilities of the performers were just as impressive as their acting abilities, each with their own unique style that blended beautifully when put together through Vanitha Hart’s vocal arrangement and direction.
Ruby Short and Lukas Perez in 107. Photography by Sophie Minissale.
107 has a universal appeal, targeting feelings and experiences most people have had. Let’s face it, if you’ve been a teenager you’ve definitely experienced the wild emotions and anxiety of trying to figure out exactly who you are and where you fit in this world. The cherry on top of all of this is the fact it’s based here, in Boorloo/Perth! All the references to our city and its stereotypes were hilarious (I’m always onboard for jokes about the Golden Triangle). However, 107 doesn’t just rely on these references to be relevant or funny. In fact, the show could easily be set anywhere and its core messages would still hit home.
107 is a play made with passion and heart with a team that gives and leaves their all on stage. I’d wait at this bus stop any day of the week.
107 is on now at The Blue Room Theatre and runs to the 19th of November.