By Natalee Kerr
The iconic songs of Dolly Parton are set to hit the stage when a new show heads to Geelong next month.
Brisbane singer Brooke McMullen takes on Dolly in the tribute-style show that celebrates the decades-long achievements of the country music star.
After the success of incorporating Dolly’s music in another show, the 25-year-old thought it was fitting to dedicate an entire production to her.
McMullen has spent hours studying Dolly and her costumes.
“I’ve watched a lot of her concerts. I’ve got a few DVD’s of her performances,” she said. “I just spent so much time listening to her music and learning about her.”
With her makeup done, a large blonde wig, sequin dresses and padded bust, McMullen feels “fully glitz and glam” as Dolly.
“I feel so confident when I’m in that getup. It’s the most incredible feeling,” she said.
But McMullen prefers to describe the show as a tribute rather than an impression.
“I take parts of Dolly and make them my own – I feel like I relate to her quiet naturally, we share a lot of similarities,” she said.
The costumes have their own personal touch to them too, McMullen explains.
“I designed them all myself, took them from Dolly’s designs and made my own versions,” she said.
Growing up, McMullen was surrounded by old-school music – with her mum and nan being big country music fans.
“When I came across Dolly and her music I immediately fell in love,” she said.
“She embodies everything that I would love to embody.”
McMullen took up dance classes before she was three, and started singing at age eight.
But it was a trip to New York at age 12 when she saw her first broadway show that commented her love for performing.
“I always knew I wanted to be on stage, but after that I was blown away. I remember just thinking this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Channelling Dolly’s “variety” of music – from pop, to country, to rock and roll – is something McMullen particularly enjoys.
“Her vocal range is insane – she can do anything,” she said.
“I’ve loved having that challenge, I think it has made me a much stronger singer.”
After being on break since last November, McMullen is ready to take on the Dolly show for another year.
“I’m itching to get back on the road,” she said.
“I absolutely love doing the show, I’m not getting sick of it yet and I don’t think I ever will.”
The Songs of Dolly Parton comes to the Geelong Arts Centre on 4 March.