The beat goes on around the world
The Beatgirls have refined their act over a decade and a half, but the primary ingredient is still energy, says founder Andrea Sanders of Pauatahanui.
This week they return to a favourite venue, Circa Theatre, with Beat Camp. Sanders was among the first three Beatgirls 14 years ago, when they first performed Blame it on the Bossa Nova and The Beatgirls Live at Downstage.
‘‘That was a bit of an experiment really, that sort of worked. We had a full band at that stage,’’ she said.
‘‘For the first of the shows at Circa, which has been the most successful format for us, we decided to take it down to just three girls, to expand the repertoire without the need for getting an 18-piece orchestra to do all those Phil Spector wall-ofsound things. So we went on to backing track.’’ That was It’s My Party. ‘‘We’re going back from the 1940s till now. Most of our shows are heavily 1960s-oriented. And this one [ Beat Camp] has got a lot of that in it. The Beatgirls will also cover modern artists.
‘‘Artists like Amy Winehouse, for example, who are obviously modern artists, but she leans very heavily on the 60s for her image and her style of music. A lot of her songs are very reminiscent of some of those songs of early Phil Spector, girlgroup, Motown sound.’’
The Athens Olympics brought the Beatgirls wider recognition. They were hired to perform in Sydney at a Sports Illustrated Olympics party, and then were taken on to Athens. ‘‘We went over there and did the parties and got on the Today show in America with Katie Couric,’’ Sanders said.
‘‘After that we just ended up getting gigs in the States. They are strange little gigs though.’’ The first was just 10 minutes long in Miami. Since then they have performed similar corporate gigs in Colorado Springs, Puerto Rico, Des Moines and South Dakota, said Sanders. They use their spare time for costume hunting. ‘‘There’s this fantastic drag queen shop in Sydney that I go to. Some of us have got quite big feet, because we’re are all quite tall, big girls.’’ The Beatgirls’ lineup shifts constantly, she said. ‘‘In the beginning there were three girls, and then two of them left after six or seven months.’’
That was when McLaughlin joined, but a role in Shortland Street took her away for a while, and another girl was trained.
That process meant there were eventually a total of 24 or 25 Beatgirls, eight or nine of whom may be active and available at any given time.
‘‘If everybody ends up in town at the same time, suddenly you’ve got six girls,’’ said Sanders.
‘‘That was when I realised that the group could actually continue without me. Bad for the ego, but good for the business.’’
All the performers had different strengths, said Sanders. ‘‘ Three or four do the Andrews Sisters show so you will get that group of people doing that show. It depends who’s suited to the event.
‘‘Some people are better suited to the big, stadium-type events where you need to be very tight dancers, great singers.
‘‘And then there are other shows where you need more comedic skills – people who can talk to the audience more.’’
Beat Camp is running at Circa Theatre until October 30.
High energy: The Beatgirls, from left, Caroline McLaughlin, Andrea Sanders and Kali Kopae.