Giant puppet robots, burlesque dancers, a Martian dominatrix and all set to a soundtrack of Britpop and the ’90s’ finest musical offerings.
The Girl From Mars, written by and starring Julia Collar, is a new jukebox musical combining a heady hit of nostalgia and ramshackle charm.
The show was inspired by the 1954 B-Movie The Devil Girl From Mars and the song by Ash, Girl From Mars, as well as musicals The Rocky Horror Show and The Return to The Forbidden Planet. Following a successful debut at the Brighton Fringe Festival, the show featured at the massive Shiiine On Weekender festival at Butlins Minehead in November, alongside many original artists from the era.
Julia explains the show’s origins: ‘I’m a ’90s kid and this is the soundtrack to my teenage years. I wanted to do something female-fronted, as there are a lot of Britpop tribute acts out there that are very male-oriented. Nothing was really giving the female angle on it, and I wanted to do something that was bigger than just a band.
‘I’ve put together other rock shows and it worked really well having that sense of theatricality, audiences buy into it a lot more, they get really swept along by the characters, so this is the next stage along. It’s not just characters on the stage, it’s characters in a story. Instead of bantering awkwardly at the audience as a lot of bands do, we’re actually telling a story.’
At its heart though, the show is a love story very loosely based on Julia’s experiences of growing up in Bedfordshire – and her love of music.
With a jukebox Britpop show you have a responsibility to try and show a little bit of everything, so we’ve quite a range in there and some of the songs we’ve given a bit of a makeoverJulia Collar
‘I was absolutely besotted with Skunk Anansie and Republica – I loved how in the ’90s on the indie scene there were women who weren’t bubblegum pop princesses. Having those very alternative-looking girls was hugely inspirational and their music was fierce.
‘I was a really big fan of The Verve and I was definitely more Blur than Oasis,’ she says of the era’s great rivalry.
She even got her musical heroine, Republica frontwoman Saffron, involved in the show’s opening night.
‘I cheekily tweeted Saffron to invite her along – but she came to the premiere and ended up singing onstage,
‘She’s been a huge supporter of the show, and sang the Martian character, who looks not unlike her,’ Julia laughs.
The show piles in the Britpop anthems from Oasis, to Blur, Pulp, Dodgy, Supergrass, and many more.
‘With a jukebox Britpop show you have a responsibility to try and show a little bit of everything, so we’ve quite a range in there and some of the songs we’ve given a bit of a makeover.
‘From Jamiroquai through to Garbage, so we touch a bit on the indie-American market, and we even do a bit of Britney Spears.
‘Everything’s a bit shoddy, a bit pantomimey and over the top, it’s very much like Rocky Horror – very camp, very OTT.
‘It’s not about taking it seriously, it’s about giving everybody a damn good time.’
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Sunday, February 12