My, my, how could you resist them?
Two of Australia’s most formidable performers are coming together to showcase their hilarious tribute show, Abba-solutely Fabulous, as part of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Morning Melodies program.
Rhonda is no stranger to the stage, having headlined several sell-out Cabaret shows and accruing a prestigious list of theatrical credits both nationally and internationally. On the West End, she’s performed in musicals such as Sugar Babies alongside Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller, Stop The World – I Want To Get Off with Anthony Newly, and starring opposite David Atkins in the original production of Hot Shoe Shuffle. For the Melbourne Theatre Company, she has starred in Into the Woods, Urinetown, and as the title role in the highly acclaimed The Drowsy Chaperone. Other Australian credits include Annie Get Your Gun, Guys and Dolls, Calender Girls.
A WAAPA graduate, Lara has proven herself a versatile performer. Some of her theatrical credits include Madame Thernadier in Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables, Sally Brown in Snoopy The Musical, Fairy Godmother in Cinderella and Euella in Miracle City, and roles in Sweet Charity, On the 20th Century, My Favourite Year and Jerry Springer the Opera. She has also graced the screen, being one of few actors who has appeared in three Baz Luhrmann films – as Natalie in Strictly Ballroom, Mome Fromage in Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.
Having met when performing in the highly praised original Australian production of Mamma Mia!, it’s no wonder ABBA has remained such a huge part of their lives. I was fortunate enough to have a chat with the dancing queens, trying to get a sneak peek of what we can expect from their performance next week.
Can you both tell me a bit about your background with performing?
Lara: My mum was a dancing teacher, so I’ve been performing since I was two! I always loved watching the old MGM musicals on TV and knew when I saw Jill Perryman in Annie that was what I wanted to do. It’s always been my passion in life to entertain people and even more make them laugh.
Rhonda: I’ve been performing since I was two. From the moment I walked on stage in the local dancing school concert dressed as a jockey to sing the “Campdown races doo-dah doo-da day” I knew it was the only thing I wanted to do. I was fortunate enough to have incredibly supportive parents who took me to dance lessons, singing lessons, piano… My mum Yvonne used to make me the most amazing costumes. I was lucky enough to be in the tail end of variety in the 80s and regularly appeared on the Don Lane, Mike Walsh, Daryl Somers and Bert Newton shows to mention a few. My first big break was the lead in Sugar Babies with Eddie Bracken and Gary McDonald which ended up taking me to London. Some of my highlights include Sugar Babies, Hot Shoe Shuffle, Mamma Mia, Into the Woods and Mame.
And what about your history of working together?
Rhonda: Lara and I were cast as best friends in the original production of Mamma Mia in 2001 and have remained besties ever since.
Lara: We did a short season of Mame together for The Production Company too. So it’s been a joy to create ABBA-solutely Fabulous together and tour around the country.
If you could go back in time time, what’s something you’d tell your past selves?
Lara: I would tell young Lara to not worry about what others think of you.
Rhonda: The winning lotto numbers of the 30 million dollar draw – we could split the draw, help charities, put on more shows, and produce our own sitcom.
Rhonda: It is such fun to sing and everyone knows the songs – they make me feel happy.
Lara: Because they’re iconic! It’s such feel-good music, everyone loves it.
Do you have a favourite ABBA song?
Lara: Soooo many. At the moment probably “When I Kissed the Teacher.”
Rhonda: ‘Thank You for the Music’ – I dedicate it to my late mother Yvonne who selflessly gave up so much for me.
Why should audiences take a chance on this show?
Lara: Oooh nice pun! Well, I promise you will laugh, you’ll have fun and you’ll love seeing two old friends doing what they do best.
Rhonda: It’s a beautiful distraction from all the craziness in the world. We celebrate friendship and girl power!
Finally, the most important question – will you be wearing sequinned disco suits?
Rhonda: Definitely! Lara and I rock our Lycra disco suits along with platform boots, big hair and everything 70s!
Lara: Oh yes! There are sequins and bedazzled cats! And believe me it’s not easy for me to squeeze into a jumpsuit these days!
Rhonda Burchmore and Lara Mulcahy star in ABBA-solutely Fabulous as part of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Morning Melodies Program
June 24 – 11am and 1:30pm