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Dizney in Drag: Once Upon A Parody - Underbelly Festival Interview

Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody is the opening show of Underbelly Festival, taking over Cavendish Square from July – September. Offering a slice of Edinburgh Fringe in the heart of Central London, the cultural pop-up festival is a go-to destination to eat, drink and watch high quality culture. Underbelly Festival’s famous Spiegeltent will once again take up residence in Cavendish Square, hosting world-class live entertainment from the best in circus, cabaret and comedy as well as children’s and family friendly entertainment. The festival will serve up a delicious range of street food traders, open air bars, and plenty of space to socialise, with deckchairs and picnic seating throughout.

A gender-bending pantomime romp through beloved fairytales told with drag performers giving (and receiving) positive lessons on respect, healthy masculinity, periods, and sex positivity. Australian cabaret troupe The Hairy Godmothers will give London audiences a healthy dose of nostalgia and a side-serving of the feel-goods before heading up to Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody is a fantasy-driven, tongue-in-cheek comedy show that warps the classic “Hero’s Journey” into a modern fairytale of self-discovery. As the wide-eyed protagonist goes on a quest to find their one true love, the X-rated queer pantomime discovers new sides of childhood favourite characters in a magical adventure complete with original parodied songs, fabulous costumes and A Whole New World of exotic props and questionable puns.

Photo by Antony Edwards

The Hairy Godmothers is a motley crew of West Australians who have a diverse range of backgrounds as engineers, doctors, science presenters, actors, lawyers, dancers, teachers, and poets. They came together as friends in 2019 to write Fringe shows and have gone on to tour Australia, Europe and the UK over the last 5 years. As a collective they aim to educate through entertainment and overall give everyone a fun night out!

We chatted with The Hairy Godmothers to learn more about the show.

When did you know that you wanted to perform?
I loved performing as a kid, I was always the child dancing around in costumes and dress-ups trying to get everyone’s attention! It took me a while to have the courage to pursue acting and performing full-time though. I have a PhD in science and spent a long time in tertiary studies! Acting kept coming back into my awareness though, it’s what brought me alive. It feels like a fairytale now to be touring, performing, and doing what I love most! Being able to do it with some of your closest friends just makes it extra special.

Were there any people or performances that inspired you?
There have been many people who have inspired me throughout the years in different styles of acting. I was able to be on set with Daniel Monks (The Seagull, Sissy, Pulse) during the feature film Pulse. Seeing his dedication and commitment to acting, as well as his passion for the project, was incredibly inspiring. Also knowing that he was surrounded by some of his closest friends planted the seed of the possibility of creating projects with friends. That project and his dedication to his craft have taken him to amazing places, which inspires me to keep going.

In my first year of high school, our school did a rendition of Peter Pan. I loved it! I was at an all-girls school, so women played all genders, I guess that was the start of my fascination and passion for flipping the script on gender norms started! I love fairytales and fables, being able to use your imagination and going into the realms of possibilities and magic lights me up. We’ve just made an adult version of fairytales and fables now!

What can you tell me about Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody?
Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody is the first show The Hairy Godmothers ever created together! It’s been growing and evolving over the last couple of years, but the essence has stayed the same, it’s a hero’s journey about finding love. Not your typical type of love though, the hero is guided by a very unlikely and unusual character, The Hairy Godmother. Together they get into some very hairy situations! You meet some characters, inspired by some of your fairytale favourites, and meet sides of them you may not expect! We sing live the whole time and interact directly with the audience, so expect a high-energy, fun, and cheeky hour of saucy silliness.

How did you approach the development of the show and parodying Disney’s work?
The movies, books, and shows we watch and read as a child have a huge impact on developing our ideologies. The hero’s journey is a common story narrative, especially when it comes to finding love. We wanted to question and deconstruct the belief in a ‘one true love’ and see what other possibilities were out there. That’s how the narrative of the show came to be. Then we looked at topics that we were passionate about and that we observed in modern-day society. Disney stories, among many other fairytales, have a deep impact on the way we build our understanding of the world and relate to each other. Although we don’t use Disney characters directly, there are many common tropes and fairytale follies we can put under the comedic microscope to look at our societal values. We create art through observing the world around us then add a whole heap of glitter, jokes, and tiaras!

Drag is a powerful art form that celebrates unique and colourful expressions of oneself. It also creates an opportunity to try new expressions and embody ways of acting that you wouldn’t usually in the ‘real world’. I grew up around drag queens, so for the first 2yrs of our show my drag mum came in and taught us tricks and helped with our make-up. Over time our unique flavour of drag started to shine through as we made a new path for ourselves.

Photo by Emma Basc

How would you describe your performance style to anyone who is unfamiliar with you?
Joyous, we have a lot of fun with each other and the audience when we’re on stage. We want people leaving with a smile on their faces, sore cheeks from laughing, and a warm fuzzy feeling of joy. I’d say we have an Aussie swagger too! It’s not a perfectly polished Broadway show, it’s a quirky and grass-roots hour of fun, mischief, and laughter.

What is the message of the show?
The show covers many messages about love, life, happiness, and self-discovery. I won’t spoil the main message for anyone who does come and see the show. I will say that we parody topics and subjects that are present in modern-day life in a fun playful way. Fairytale messaging about finding your ‘one true love’ gets flipped on its head, along with other themes often found in fables.

How do you prepare for a performance?
All of us have unique ways to prepare, there are some commonalities and some individual rituals. As a group we all do our make-up together, which can take 1-2hrs depending on the character. We’ll play some high-energy fun tunes to get our excitement up and have a little groove in our chairs. We’ll do some vocal warm-ups to get our voices ready for singing and finally, we’ll do a group check-in. This is a moment to drop in together, take a few breaths, sync up, and set intentions for a fun performance. It’s also a chance to dedicate the show to someone if there’s someone on our mind.

As an individual, I love using music to get me in the mode. For each character that I play, I choose a ‘theme song’ and listen to it before I get on stage. It allows me to get into the mindset and mood of the character. I play the main hero in Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody. They are trying to find their place and their one true love, so the song I chose for that character is ‘This is Me’ by Keala Settle from The Greatest Showman. It’s a huge, powerful ballad, it’s hard not to be revved up after listening to it!!

If you were a biscuit, what would you be and why?
A gluten-free, freshly baked cookie with hundreds and thousands on top. I’m not sure it’s a biscuit but I’m making it one! Gluten-free because we’re an alternative to the mainstream and inclusive for everyone. Freshly baked because we’re still relatively new and fresh on the scene, especially in the UK. Hundreds and thousands for the amount of colour and glitter that we have in our show!!

What keeps you inspired?
Seeing more and more art in all its forms. Theatre shows, movies, music, fine art, creatives being creatives. There’s something that happens to the soul when you see someone in their element doing what they love. It makes the heart smile and come alive. Seeing the different ways people express themselves reminds us that there’s no right or wrong way to do your art. It’s all unique individual expression. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there will be someone out there that connects to it. If something resonates with you follow that thread of excitement, you never know where it’ll lead you! 

Photo by Emma Basc

Why should anyone book tickets for Dizney in Drag: Once Upon a Parody?
We are a small grassroots, quirky group of Australian performers who love doing what we do, spreading joy and messages we’re passionate about. This feels like a fairytale for us, so please come join in the fairytale with us! Supporting the arts is a huge thing, especially for small upcoming groups. Every ticket counts, so if you want a fun, frivolous night out, please come be our guest!

Dizney In Drag: Once Upon A Parody runs at Underbelly Festival from 4th until 14th July 2024. Tickets are available from

The show also plays at the Edinburgh Fringe at Assembly George Square. Tickets are available from

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