The Fabulous Ms Burchmore
She sparkles, she shines, she’s nothing short of divine. She puts the glamour in glamazon, and, if all the world is a stage, the spotlight tracks her like a police search light on a runaway red Ferrari. If she had a penchant for futurist hypotheses – and she just might, but I didn’t ask - she’d probably put the sing in singularity as well.
With legs longer than a pre-Christmas airport queue, a personality sharper than an August morning wind on Torquay Back Beach, and a biography you’ll need your specs to reach the end of, the very fabulous Ms Burchmore is back to town with her and Mama Mia co-star Lara Mulcahy’s show, ABBAsolutely Fabulous.
Yep, there’s no doubt about it, when it comes to making a career in show biz work, Rhonda Burchmore has really worked it, baby.
Don’t miss ABBAsolutely Fabulous tonight at GPAC
25 August, show starts at 8pm
Info & tickets available at gpac.org.au
Starring in the original production of MamaMia in 2001 – opening before the show’s stellar Broadway run – the fabulous Ms Burchmore became close friends with on-stage bestie Lara Mulcahy after hitting it off in auditions, saying, ‘she became one of my best friends in life’.
After the Abba smash, Rhonda went on to roles in Into the Woods, went back to recording and toured cabaret shows. Lara performed in Les Miserables and other roles.
“I kind of looked at the landscape for musical theatre last year and this year in Australia. A lot of it was Aladdin and Book of Mormon, Kinky Boots, and there was nothing really in there for me. I’m never one to sit idle for too long and after having dinner with [Lara] I said, why don’t we do a show together?”
The 40th Anniversary of Abba’s 1976 Australian tour presented an opportunity to revisit some familiar material and Burchmore put up her hand to produce the show that follows the fan story of Lara and Rhonda, two suburban Aussie girls who never got to go to the Abba concert.
“It’s not just an Abba tribute show that there are so many of, from Elvis to Roy Orbison to Abba where they dress up as the people. We don’t pretend to be Frida and Anna, we are Lara and Rhonda, two girls growing up in the 70s in Australia and who never got to go to the big Abba concert 40 years ago. Growing up on opposite sides of Australia, we both used to get our hairbrushes out and pretend we were Anna or Frida.
… Um, confession time, this is me as a 5 year-old, with a building block microphone, singing along to Super Trouper in red UGG boots and standing on what was then known as a pouffe – as in rhymes with hoof. And yes, that is green velvet wallpaper in the background. Thanks for the memories Mum.
Fun fact: after years of awkwardly being called anything from a footrest to an ottoman or even a floor cushion, the handy seat/footrest/substitute side table is once again called by furniture purveyors as a pouffe … of course, you were terribly posh if you added the accent back in 1980…
And speaking of the 80’s, did you know that Rhonda also starred in The Pirate Movie, filmed around Werribee Mansion and the Great Ocean Road? It’s on YouTube and it’s still crazy and brilliant!
Crazy and brilliant could describe plenty of Burchmore's roles and gigs over the years, remember Hey Hey It's Saturday? And from all reports Abba-solutely Fabulous is no exception.
“It’s an hilarious romp of us growing up, and because we never got to go to that concert, we kind of create that whole feeling and vibe, and finally get to be up there singing all those songs," Rhonda said.
“It’s such fun to do. It’s a perfect distraction to everything that’s going on in the world.”
In the beauteous tradition of skydiving nonagenarians, this show calls to the 70s Abba fans in the same clarion tones as bottom-padded lycra and carbon fibre frames call to middle-aged cycling fanatics. If you couldn’t or didn’t do it when you were young, don’t let that the irrelevance of age stop you from doing it now – complete with iridescent cat suits, back combed hair and platform boots! And, blessedly unlike the MAMILs tearing up the cycling lanes of local roads, this is meant to be funny.
“It’s like the ultimate girl’s night out,” Rhonda said. “Lara is as short as I am tall, she comes up to just under my arm pit so there’s a lot of visual comedy in there. There’s a big dose of the Ab-Fab Patsy and Eddie thing in there too. And that’s just me really in normal life. I’m far more like Patsy than Lara is like Eddie, I go for the designer labels and she goes to Target.”
I’m reliably informed that if you want to make Rhonda smile, get along and see the show and/or pour her a glass of Bollie... showbiz at it’s best.
“I think a lot of people can relate to it. We nearly pee ourselves on stage it’s so funny.”
And we need more of it, much more it, this celebration of female friendships, and not just the 16 year-old soap opera dramas, but real women who laugh together and cry together and put each other back together through decades-long friendships that are a safe haven of sanity and silliness.
But it’s far from a show just for women, every man who recognises this experience of grown-up girl bonding will love every minute of ABBAsolutely Fabulous.