Manali Datar chats FANGIRLS!

The smash-hit musical sensation FANGIRLS, which celebrates the misunderstood power and passion of teenage fandom, will be presented in the Opera House’s Drama Theatre from 28 July – 4 September, 2022.

Manali Datar

The critically-acclaimed Australian musical returns to Sydney after sold-out seasons at Belvoir and the Seymour Centre, which garnered an ARIA nomination (Best Original Soundtrack or Musical Theatre Cast Album 2021) and Winner of Sydney Theatre Award for Best Mainstage Musical 2019.

Written by award-winning playwright, screenwriter and composer Yve Blake and directed by Paige Rattray, FANGIRLS follows the story of 14-year-old Edna who is enamoured with Harry, the lead singer of global boyband sensation True Connection. When the band announces an Australian tour, Edna’s smarts and commitment will be put to the ultimate test in the pursuit of meeting her crush.

Rising star Manali Datar will take to the stage in the lead role of Edna after having previously appeared as Rose Granger-Weasley in the 2019 production of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child. Born in India, Datar is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts.

With opening night swiftly approaching, we had a chat with Manali about the show!

Can you tell me a bit about your history with performing?

Manali: I trained at the VCA and graduated in 2018, which is also when I started working on my first show, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, where I played Rose Granger-Weasley! Earlier this year I played Priya Singh in White Pearl at Sydney Theatre Company and I had a blast.

What is the most exciting part about taking on Edna?

Manali: It’s an honour to bring this complex, intelligent and detailed character to life, following in the footsteps of Yve and Karis, while representing young Indian people on such a bucket list stage. Bonus: Edna’s hilarious and I love a riff.

The 2021 cast of Fangirls | Photo by Dayna Ransley

And the most challenging?

Manali: I’ve never done a professional musical before, so rebuilding my vocal stamina will definitely be a welcome challenge. Luckily Yve wrote an absolute banger of a score full of earworms, so I’ll be addicted to singing in no time.

Why do you think audiences are so drawn to Fangirls?

Manali: We often love art that contains a little piece of us. Fangirls is validating and hilarious and specific to an entire demographic of people. There’s such nostalgia in the themes, characters and story – it’s impossible not to relate to in some way. I felt so connected to everyone else in the crowd when I saw it

Is there a fandom you were a part of in high school?

Manali: I’ve never really part of a fandom, but in primary school I was a Better Homes & Gardens stan for some reason?

Can you sum up Fangirls in 5 words?

Manali: Fierce, funny, so SO special.

Fangirls plays at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House from Thursday 28th July.

For tickets and more information, visit the Sydney Opera House website.

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer and educator, and is the current Deputy Editor-in-Chief of She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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