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Ned Kelly: The Big Gay Musical – Festival Hub: Trades Hall (VIC)

Written and directed by Kaine!

Review by Carla Di Maggio

Festival Hub: Trades Hall – Quilt Room / ETU Ballroom

Season 11-20 October 2023


- Ned Kelly: The Big Gay Musical slays so hard right from when you first walk in the door -

This incredible new musical brings the Ned Kelly story to life with a whole lot of queerness. Whilst audiences will get a plot relating to the folklore of the Kelly gang, Kaine has produced a hilarious comedy about queer community and partnership. It is a glittery celebration of queerness through reinventing Aussie history to celebrate all identities. It is so refreshing to see something about Ned Kelly that strays from the worship of the typical toxic white man.

The main cast is phenomenal. Ellen Marning, Erin McIntosh, Monique Kerr and Sunny Youngsmith create a perfect foursome in performing the fearsome bushrangers. Their range is outstanding, and their stamina blew me away: having to carry the show with singing and dancing effortlessly. And it is just an absolute joy to watch them all; their chemistry is outstanding in helping one another shine throughout the performance.

Sian Dowler was an absolute stand-out, playing every other character imaginable. From transforming into policeman #3 to the queen, they have proven they can do anything and everything. Although they had to juggle so many characters on their shoulders, their jokes perfectly landed every time with ease.

The comedy doesn’t only come from our fabulous main cast, but the band, led by Kaine, are in on all the jokes. Their music facilitates the space to create some raucously astounding hits whilst also stepping the jokes up that extra step. They certainly impressed (and had me almost falling from my seat from laughter) with hits like “We Put the Bush in Ranger” and “Terrorist or Fabulous”.

Kaine is a comedic genius. Their writing is brave, centring a classic Australian story on queerness, and it works.

Needless to say, Kaine is a comedic genius. Their writing is brave, centring a classic Australian story on queerness, and it works. They are not afraid to run with a joke, resulting in the funniest scene involving a leprechaun. My only qualm is that some of the faster-paced lyrics got lost, and the repetitive nature of some lyrics lost the sparkle. I found my mind wandered in these moments, which was a shame for a show with so much sparkle.

Speaking of sparkle, the makeup and costuming were just perfect. The iconic image of the Kelly gang in tin armour is certainly represented whilst also presenting the most colourful new fits that elevated the notorious four to queer icons. The colours assigned to each performer were clever in signposting who’s who to the audience as the characters became increasingly familiar. I did enjoy the comedic timing surrounding a particular beard that pops up later in the musical (if you know, you know), but it did take away from the actor’s performance, as their voice got lost amongst all that hair.

I had an absolute ball at Ned Kelly: The Big Gay Musical. The songs are back-to-back bangers, and the comedy makes the performance space feel like you are among friends. Everyone involved in this production needs to be commended for bringing such joy and celebration.

If you find yourself in a less-than-average state, you need to go to see Ned Kelly: The Big Gay Musical. I have never laughed harder in my life, and this extends to any commercial theatre show in Melbourne.


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