FRINGE REVIEW: "Tony Galati the Musical" is the king of spuds and our hearts
I am by no means a musical nerd.
Just want to throw that one out there, because as much as I can appreciate a good bit of musical theater, I haven't seen too much of it on a stage (aside from Matilda). However, when it comes to eyebrows, I'm your guy. Eyebrows were the creative spark that drove me to name myself in Gamer communities TheEyebrowGuy. Due to this, I have had a general awareness of Tony Galati since I was about 12. Tony is the quintessential Aussie hero, he's soft spoken, rough around the edges and unabashedly unique. He's what some of us might call a 'Perthonality'. And it's this rustic charm that has made someone write a musical about his life story.
Tony Galati the Musical is a Perth-themed musical put on for this year’s Fringe Festival. Nestled in the Woodside Pleasure Garden is a particularly cosy little venue that houses a runway-styled thrust stage with 5 or 6 rows of chairs either side of the stage. Once I got settled in, it was only maybe a minute or two before I was completely captivated by the West Australian tableau I saw before me. If I had to sell someone on this musical, I wouldn't mention the play-by-play of a beloved champion of our hearts and wallets' life story, no no. I cannot overstate the sheer mass of Perth memes that Dan Debuf and Caleb Garfinkel have managed to cram into this 60-minute run time.
This wonderful musical hits all of the classic songs and arcs of your average light-hearted Disney romp, but it also manages to land some great self-aware dunks on the city we all live in. This meant that I found myself completely sucked into the subject matter, as well as feeling this weird sense of giddy anticipation for every line being sung out of the cast’s mouths. Thomas Papathanassiou is electrifying as Tony (and Francesco) Galati, resembling more like a protagonist from an ancient Greek epic than any ordinary potato farmer. Sam Longley is also charmingly devious as the Jafar-esque villain of the potato board, Russet Burbank Jr (his villain’s theme, “Set it in Stone” is still bouncing about my head as I write this). The rest of the cast are hilarious as generic Perth-ites and other Australian 'celebrities', my personal favourite character being none other than Sunrise's own Kochie.
I had so much fun with Tony Galati the Musical that I'd have to recommend it to anyone who even has a cursory knowledge of the man. The atmosphere on the inside of that venue was a sense of community that I haven't got to feel too many times as an Australian; having Galati senior and junior present in the audience made it feel like both a roast and celebration of our Spud King (complete with some sizzling slams on our own funny little secluded city). I can only hope that Tony felt the love too.