Thursday 12th September 2013
Anna reviews Miranda Sings' recent performance at the Leicester Square Theatre.
I first discovered Miranda Sings about 5 years ago. She was being interviewed about her 'Voice Lesson' which had become a YouTube hit and, unaware of her work, I looked up the video and fell about laughing uncontrollably, so much so my mother called out with concern from another room. A star was born.
A quick bit of googling and I discovered that Miranda was the out of tune alter-ego of Colleen Ballinger, a genuinely good singer who had struck gold parodying the many YouTube vloggers who believe they are blessed with vocal talent when they are not. It was spot on satire for our social media savvy generation and just my sort of thing.
I saw her live at the Ambassadors Theatre in 2009. My cheeks ached from laughter as I watched Miranda team up with a range of West End stars, instructing Robyn North (then playing Christine in Phantom...) how to 'do' vibrato, and singing 'All That Jazz' with the cast of Chicago, complete with a Miranda style interpretation of Fosse's iconic choreography. So when I discovered she was returning to London this week, I was quick to buy tickets and eager to see how her live show, like her YouTube posts, had adapted in the years between.
Miranda doesn't just sing now. In fact she's a self-confessed 'Five Threat' adding Modelling and Magic to the more commonly known triple threats of Acting, Singing and Dance. Her YouTube channel now incorporates Miranda-style tutorials on make up, relationships, current affairs and, very topically, twerking (see video below), alongside her wonderful renditions of show tunes and pop songs.
Over the years, the character of Miranda has also developed a deep backstory as a very odd home-schooled girl with a creepy, and rather close to the bone, relationship with her 'uncle', and slightly skewed views on morality. The result is a hilarious comment on society, show business and musical theatre, and perhaps more interestingly, on YouTube as a medium -- Miranda will spell badly, edit badly, and advise badly in a spot on critique of 'YouTubers'. Compared with the videos she posts as Colleen, you can see how clever she is in both guises and it's the addition of the girl behind the rubber faced Miranda which has helped her live show develop in the last few years.
Whilst singing badly with West End cast members desperately trying not to corpse made her last show brilliantly funny, that has a shelf life as a form of live entertainment. And so, following an introduction from her boyfriend Josh, a performer in his own right, Colleen opened Monday's show at London's Leicester Square Theatre singing as herself before becoming Miranda mid-rendition of 'Defying Gravity', (as seen in one of her American shows here). What followed was 90 minutes of material including acted scenes from her 'life', becoming One Direction, a very funny West End medley, discussing her famed 'haters' and her magic trick, sticking a sword through her neck with comical vocal consequences (see video below). I'd seen this on YouTube before, but live it is wonderful and shows just how much vocal control Colleen has when she's being Miranda.
To have trained as a good singer and now be making her name pretending to be a bad one might not have been the path Colleen had in mind, but it's one she continues to adapt to keep her audiences, both live and on the web, engaged and which sees her selling out shows in her native America and across the world.
Her loyal 'Mirfandas' make up the hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers, viewers and impersonators, the latter proved by What's On Stage who hosted a MirandaSings competition in honour of her UK visit. The winner, 19 year old Dylan Atkinson, will get to perform with the lady herself at her final show tomorrow night (13th September) and it is testament to the genius of Colleen's invention. As she ages, Miranda gets more quirky, extreme and ridiculous, but remains very funny. And that's the greatest part of both her live show and YouTube channel; you laugh, out loud, a lot.
Miranda, Starling Arts loves you, and Colleen, hats off for bringing the musical theatre and YouTube community together in admiration for this unique talent.
Haters, back off.