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Reviews/Musical Theatre/Theatre

107 – the real high school musical

28 January 2022

A fresh, coming-of-age musical makes space for diverse stories, and Claire Trolio is on board with it.

107, Michele Gould ·
The Blue Room Theatre, Thursday 27 January 2022 ·

The iconic teenage, coming-of-age story rewritten from a queer, feminist perspective, 107 is The Breakfast Club, if The Breakfast Club were a musical set at a bus stop in Perth’s western suburbs and the characters weren’t all white, heterosexual, cisgender kids.

WAAPA musical theatre-trained Michele Gould has written and composed this new work. It’s her second original musical after her debut, PASSING, was performed at Fringe World 2021. 

Four teenagers linger at a bus stop on their way to school. There’s Joy (Jenny Guigayoma), timid and conformist, searching for her own identity beneath the one her “tiger mum” has written for her. Olivia (Lukas Pérez) is a queer, boisterous, drug-dealing softie, exploring their gender identity, alongside their best friend Zoe (Paris Leveque) who’s grappling with privilege as a minority. Finally, Queen Bee Charlotte (Ruby Short) struggles with her sexuality and her own place atop the high school popularity pyramid.

These are themes close to Gould’s heart – 107 is inspired by her experience of growing up as a queer Thai-Australian teenager in the private school system.

A snapshot from the musical 107. Pictured is four actors smiling as they embrace each other.
The ‘107’ cast, clockwise from top: Ruby Short, Lukas Pérez, Jenny Guigayoma and Paris Leveque. Photo: Tasha Faye

Conceptually, there’s a lot to get excited about.

Gould’s punk-rock-meets-pop songs are a load of fun: short and punchy, filled with wry social commentary, though they do begin to feel a tad repetitive.

On opening night there were a few minor shakes and stumbles over missed lines and notes and an unforgiving recorded musical arrangement. But the voices of the four performers rose above it all.

I cherished each performance: their poise, confidence and power. Guigayoma plays Joy with such restraint that her first solo caught me by surprise, what a delight. Pérez is a vocal treasure, classy and commanding.

Daley Rangi, who also directs the show, nails the costume design. Many fellow private school alumni will recognise hemline requirements and the accompanying rolling of the skirt waistband.

The costumes are also a source of subtle differences and characterisation: four different pairs of school shoes sum up the characters better than anything else.

Which brings me to what I think is 107’s shortcoming, and that’s its character development. 

There’s a wealth of potential material in the way teenagers talk and relate to one another, and I thought Gould missed an opportunity to explore that further. I craved more dialogue between the characters, to truly understand how they fitted into the high school milieu and to offer each of them more developed backstories.

Perhaps the time it takes for the 107 bus to sail down Stirling Highway in peak hour isn’t enough.

Although 107 isn’t everything I hoped, it is fun, feel-good, feminist theatre. I’m grateful to Gould and Rangi for carving out this site of diversity and self-determination, and I’ll gladly catch their bus time and time again.

107 continues until 5 February 2022.

Pictured top: Ruby Short and Lukas Pérez at the bus stop. Photo by Tasha Faye

Read Seesaw Mag’s Q&A with 107 playwright and composer Michele Gould.

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Author —
Claire Trolio

Claire Trolio completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) at UWA. She writes about Western Australia for various digital and print media and owns a shop with her sister. For her, the spider swing is the ultimate in playground fun.

Past Articles

  • It’s a strike!

    Local theatre company strikes just the right note, with a feel-good story of female friendship and tenpins, writes Claire Trolio.

  • Grease not the word for a new world

    Catchy tunes and nostalgia aren’t enough to make this new production of an old favourite relevant today, writes Claire Trolio.

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