Schapelle Schapelle – The Musical
Trades Hall – ETU Ballroom
Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Hundreds of 4X cans are stacked at the back of the stage, a 5-piece pop-jazz band in the corner, and a Channel 19 logo front-right. The beat drops in drippy funk, and we’re taken straight to the 2015 “Wokely” awards for journalistic hobnobbing. And just like that, I’m sucked right back into the long-forgotten spectacle that is the Schapelle Corby saga.
But Schapelle Schapelle is no deep-dive into the life and times of our favourite Ganja Queen. It presents its story the way we all saw it: through an all-singing, all-dancing media circus. If you were to write a musical, there is no content more appropriate than this quintessential Australian fable. The larger-than-life Corby family and circling media personalities are born and bred parodies of themselves. Their satirical outbursts were, to my fading memory, pretty authentic to how it all went down. No embellishment needed.
This show really has a bit of everything. Boisterous songs full of pomp, punchy live music, expertly crafted choreography, tap-dance, ooh-aah background singers, and sexy saxophone solos. In between it all, Schapelle and co are mostly honoured with all the heart, family, and tragic toll this story really took on the entire Corby clan.
The most striking feature of this experience is how effectively it portrays Schapelle herself. I found myself progressively getting sucked in, yet again, by the demure beauty of this “innocent” aussie woman. More often than not, she is a deer in the spotlights of the chaos unfolding around her.
Whether it comes from her sister, Mercedes, and a seemingly endless collection of Juicy Couture, or from the tight-fitting suits that are grappling for media notoriety. I’m left feeling that same familiar sense that I wish they’d all just leave her alone.
In the end, we might ponder whether this was ever about Schapelle and her Boogie board. The whodunnit mystery and human tragedy were always a backdrop to exploiting another 15-minutes of fame. The unfortunate truth for Schapelle is that her 15 minutes lasted for some 10 years. Worse yet, it almost claimed her sanity. A fact that, for me, was handled a little indelicately.