Reviews //

SUDS’ Stujo! The Musical: ‘There’s No Show Like StuJo!’

Following The Academe Dream through SUDS’ time-travelling musical about student journalism.

StuJo! The Musical presents a whimsical homage to the great cultures of student journalism and musical theatre. Coming from a student journalist, I’ll admit this view may be biased. As the Directors Isla Mowbray, Marlow Hurst and Ariana Haghighi write in their note, StuJo as both a musical and practice is about the “pursuit of truth”, “fighting for what’s right”, “community” and “love”.

The grungy Cellar Theatre provides a fitting ambience for a 1960s newsroom. A desk is set with typewriters and a rotary dial, along with black and white newspapers stuck to the wall, creating an apt vintage setting for the Honi Soit editors of 1968. However, these props soon turn into laptops and a vape as the three editors from the past are ambiguously time-warped to 2024.

As the audience follows the 1968 editors into 2024, interesting comparisons are made between student life then and now. Where students of the 60s had hope that universities would bring progress, or the “academe dream”, StuJo! highlights the current day campus — characterised by course cuts, student protests and fee hikes. This concept was effectively played out through the show’s protest segment, which required audience participation and an expedition to the foyer. This was a creative addition to the production, enabling a change of scenery from the small set.

An original jukebox musical, the show reinvented iconic musical songs with witty lyrics and zings about student theatre. This made the show particularly entertaining for musical theatre lovers. From tunes like The Sound of Music’s “My Favourite Things” and Funny Girl’s “Don’t Rain On My Parade”, to Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea’s Problem, there was a good variety of numbers for the audience to enjoy.  

A particular stand out on the singing front was Agadacious Highkicks’ seamless adaptation of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables. The soprano requirements of the song make it a difficult task to pull off, however Belinda Thomas delivered with grace and passion. Additionally, Carla Field provided an impressive rendition of The Lion King’s “Be Prepared” in the role of Razor Galetto, the established antagonist with her army of USYD ra(n)ts.  

Violet Hull as Juicy Bella made the show particularly engaging, with her captivating and energetic performance. As a beret-wearing Sharpay Evans-type character, her love story with the endearing Doreen Mousetrap from the 1960s, played by Gemma Hudson, made for a sweet and progressive romantic arc in the show. This was perhaps the most convincing reason the 1968 editors had to remain in 2024.

Performing to a full house on their second show, the cast and crew of StuJo! The Musical performed sold out shows until Saturday, having added  an extra performance to accommodate last minute ticket purchases.  The show had a great amount of fun and laughs, and was a dazzling celebration of student journalism and its quirky characters.