Meet Sophie Smyth and Ryan Smedley. They both love musical theatre, they have both travelled to New York for the sole purpose of watching as much musical theatre as possible and they both have Asperger's Syndrome. In their comedy cabaret show, The Aspie Hour, the two share moments of their lives and reflect on what it's like living with Asperger's.
Even though eye contact makes them nervous and not liking physical contact with people, Smyth and Smedley seem to absolutely love being on the stage and make clear eye contact with the audience throughout, instantly creating a connection with us. Their openness and vulnerability allows the audience to better understand not only what Asperger's Syndrome is, but also how it impacts the lives of the people who have this type of autism.
The show is divided in two parts with the first half spent with Smedley recounting his first trip to New York alone
and the effect a random encounter had on him. It's an all-original musical extravaganza with Smedley intelligently using the tone and styles of musical theatre songs to take us to New York with him. His song about the evening spent in Central Park is beautifully performed and you can feel Smedley's longing for that moment. For her part, Smyth gives the audience a
run down on living with Asperger's Syndrome and the way her mind
operates under the guise of a musical theatre production. Smyth sings about her life story as she refers to a number of musical theatre tropes including the song where the heroine reveals what it is she yearns for and the grand opening number of the second act that doesn't have anything to do with the story.
The two performers clearly love their musical theatre and naturally the show is littered with references to such shows including Dear Evan Hansen, Wicked, Merrily We Roll Along and many more, most of which I'm certain went over my head. The evening is a mix of their original songs and reworking of existing songs, where Avenue Q's "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist" is cleverly transformed into "Everyone's A Little Bit Aspie".
Smyth and Smedley use The Aspie Hour to not only entertain their audience, but to educate the neurotypical world on how they lead their lives and interact with people and it's always a great experience for audiences to hear people tell their own stories. Smyth and Smedley may have opened themselves up to the scrutiny of strangers, but their energetic performances and vibrant musical numbers ensure that everyone leaves the show with a great big smile on their face, scanning their memories for their own musical moments.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 5 April | 7.00pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: MICF website