MELT Festival is returning to Brisbane later this month, bringing with it all the queer arts and culture we could possibly want – and then even more besides!
Gearing up for a huge night at Brisbane Powerhouse are Ruby Clarke, Chloe-Rose Taylor, and Natasha Veselinovic – otherwise known as The Local Lesbians.
Teaming up with music director Meg Burstow (who will take to the piano on the night), the trio have crafted cabaret Lesbian Love Stories, a series of real-life anonymous love stories presented through song and spoken word.
Ahead of their show, we took a few minutes to get to know the team, and find out a little more about the show!
Thanks for taking the time to chat to us here at the AU! First things first, tell us a little about the show! What can audiences expect on the night?
Ruby: A bunch of lesbian love stories… I promise you, the title is not deceiving!
Chloe: To laugh. You will laugh a lot.
Tash: Also, some sick musical arrangements. So fun!
Where did the idea come from?
Ruby: The girls came up with the concept and I was on board straight away!
Tash: Chloe and I turned ‘An Old-Fashioned Love Story’ from [Andrew] Lippa’s The Wild Party, into a duet a while back, for a gig. The song is performed by a lesbian in the show, and we thought it’d be fun to sing together.
One day we just looked at each other and went… hang on…there’s a show in this, and it all just kind of stemmed from there. I don’t think we really realised at the time that we’d stumbled upon a concept that was much bigger than us. The show has allowed us to reach out and involve others in the queer community, which has been a really wonderful experience.
What’s been the biggest challenge in translating these stories into a cabaret style show?
Chloe: Cabaret is such a broad term, so that’s actually quite a tricky question to answer. I’d say one of the biggest challenges was deciding where the music needed to go – what needed to be sung, and what didn’t?
Tash: Yeah, music is obviously an incredibly important component, but only when used effectively. Usually when building a show, we’d create a playlist full of killer tunes we want to belt out, and link it all together with a few anecdotes or banter.
This time was the opposite. LLS is a series of real life experiences that are told verbatim, so the music really had to encapsulate the energy around those stories and heighten it. It’s also the first time we’ve solely been in control of organising arrangements and cuts, so it has most definitely been a learning curve
Chloe: It was also important that the stories and links didn’t sound too scripted or planned. Usually you only play one character in a show, but the three of us chop and change between several stories – all of which are anonymous – so we really had to work to make them all sound as if they could be our own.
What’s the background to The Local Lesbians? How did you all come together?
Tash: The three of us studied musical theatre at the Con [Queensland Conservatorium] together and have been friends for years. Also, Chloe and I are engaged, so there’s that.
Chloe: Yeah, locked that in quick! We’re all gay, we’re all fab performers, so it just made sense, really.
Ruby: We also love each other and have been friends throughout our coming out journeys. These ladies are divine and helped normalise queer relationships for me, allowing me to trust my own sexual identity.
What’s it like to be involved with MELT Fest?
Ruby: IT IS SO SO SO EXCITING! Just grateful to be here sharing true stories & spreading the love.
Chloe: Incredible. Such a dream. It’s amazing to be given such a big platform to share what really is a beautiful show.
Tash: Yeah, LLS is really new, and the response thus far has been overwhelming. Couldn’t be more grateful.
Are there any other MELT shows you’re hoping to catch yourselves?
Ruby: Look, I want to see them all.. I’m greedy!
Chloe: Absolutely! The week after ours, Killer Queens is up. Not only is it a killer show full of queens, it has my queen [Natasha] in it.
Tash: What she said!
What do you hope people take away from Lesbian Love Stories?
Ruby: To listen, take in & learn from our stories. Queer love stories are important to tell & we have a bunch worth listening to!
Tash: Absolutely. And we can be funny, too – we’re not all angry.
And, finally, what’s next for the team?
Ruby: I wish I knew…
Tash: Find someone with a bunch of money?
Chloe: We plan to take the show further than our own backyard, and have a few plans in the pipes. Give us a cheeky Insta follow to stay tuned!
Lesbian Love Stories will be showing at Brisbane Powerhouse on Saturday 22 May 2021 as part of MELT: Festival of Queer Arts & Culture.
Grab your tickets HERE, or check out what else the festival has to offer HERE.