Digital Editor Cara-Louise Scott reviews the online musical Feeling Pretty and finds the show to be an enticing watch, music-filled with plenty of action

I am a third year English and creative writing student who loves reading, writing and travelling! I am the current Digital Editor and a former Food&Drink editor <3

Feeling Pretty is an online musical produced by Buttermere Productions; it is currently appearing online as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Written and directed by Ariella Barnett and choreographed by Barnett, Line Koen and Amy Reed, this musical brings a much-needed originality to the theatre world by creating a musical commentary of the frustrated feelings of women who are tired of being told what to do and what to wear.

Feeling Pretty was created and originally performed in Cape Town, South Africa, with sold-out crowds in 2021 at The Kalk Bay Theatre. Because of its well-received reception, Buttermoon Productions revamped the musical and performed again in April 2022 at the SixtyNine Theatre, which I watched via the virtual recording.

When I began watching Feeling Pretty, I was unsure what the musical would entail with the three characters, Raquel (played by Ariella Barnett), Michelle (Line Koen) and Belle (Amy Reed) singing on stage. It felt as though it was going to be a singing concert and not a musical. However, to my pleasant surprise, this musical is so much more than just three girls singing on stage.

However, to my pleasant surprise, this musical is so much more than three girls singing on stage

This small-scale production shows to us what it is like to be a woman in a time where they were silenced. It shows us the frustrations, anger and determination women felt, all rolled up in the power house voices of these three talented actors. Alongside their vocals, their expressions and character on stage was striking in showing their progression from submission to John, the radio host, to their anger and then confidence at bringing their own power to the show.

The musical lacks a plot, but it consists of these three characters singing and advertising products on a radio show; they are then catcalled and shouted at over their singing, making them feel angry at the way they are subjected to sexist ridicule on stage. This shifts in the second half of this 50-minute musical in which they sing empowering songs, making the adverts subverted in a funny mannerism to gain power over the radio show.

While at times it felt like there were too many songs, especially when they’d move on so quickly after a really strong, heart-hitting song such as ‘This is Me’ from The Greatest Showman, these songs were still all equally important in creating a story of how women are portrayed and how they can take back power – showing the strength of music in creating commanding messages.

It was interesting to see the actors break the fourth wall by referring to the audience in front of them and at home as while they were on a ‘radio show’, it still felt like they were making a reference to the virtual audience of the musical and this added to the connection between the messages Raquel, Michelle and Belle were portraying and the audience who would be listening intently.

This musical has the potential to showcase the powerful message across the world during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The irony and comedy of the phrases that were used during the adverts and songs succeeded in showing a sexist patriarchy in which women are subject to being merely objects of men’s desire; this irony fixated on the musical in a unique way. Singing well known songs slowly to emphasise sexist lyrics and showing the belittling of the women created an atmospheric tension which broke this musical up neatly into a before and after vision on how women are expected to behave and how women should be allowed to behave.

Simplistic and short, with a minimalistic set, this musical has the potential to showcase the powerful message across the world during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – showing the strength women can have, not just in this musical and in life, but also the ability of Ariella Barnett to create a musical that is both distinctively innovative and fun to watch. This musical not only shows the potential of women in the world, but also the potential theatre and small productions have in contributing confidence to women in an ever-changing world.

Rating: 4/5

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