Sarah Gaul will debut her musical theatre at The Butterfly Club this week with bravado, taking aim at everything from those My Family stickers to militant vegans.
The opera-trained 22-year-old has had a rough time of it this year, with a bad break-up followed by dropping out of the VCA after already dumping law school.
“I’ve had a bit of a crisis,” she laughs, flashing a confident smile. “I don’t really know what I’m doing or where I’m going. The one thing that’s certain is this show.”
She could have saved herself a lot of grief if she’d stuck with her gut instinct when she was nine, when her parents dragged her kicking and screaming to see Lisa McCune perform in The Sound of Music. “I sat there for three hours staring open-mouthed at this thing. It was absolutely magical.”
The singing bug stayed and has been the one constant in her life. She started penning her own material at 15 for a school competition. “I was really offended when it didn’t get past the first round. At the same time I’d just discovered who Tim Minchin was, and that was probably the next stage in realising what I wanted to do.”
With My Piano and Me, Gaul harnesses the power of musical comedy to be thought-provoking as well as entertain. “Most of the songs are about things that make me really angry, sad, or things I want people to talk about. It’s a narrative of where I’ve been over the last few years – all over the place.”
One song explores her ongoing commitment to meat, despite her ethical queasiness at some of the conundrums that throws up. “I’m a full-on carnivore myself but I think veganism is fascinating. It becomes almost religious, because vegans try and convert you. My mum’s vegetarian and bleats while I’m eating lamb.”
Those pesky car stickers get lampooned too. “The family opposite me have this big Volvo thing with the mum and dad, four kids, the cat and the dog. The people who made these stickers are probably millionaires now, and that’s extraordinary. Why would you stick them on your car? It’s crazy that it’s even a trend.”