Bunbury audiences will be in for a very special treat as a leading make-up artist and stage performer gets ready to return home for the first time in more than 20 years and reveal a whole new side of himself. Manuao TeAotonga will be making his return to the town where he spent his teenage years in his first performance in more than 20 years during the Bunbury Fringe Festival. The former Bunbury Senior High School head boy turned stage performer and make-up artist will be performing his original cabaret show Dragged Back to Bunbury at the Alcoa Big Top on January 28. Dragged Back to Bunbury will tell TeAotonga’s life story, in cabaret form featuring a gender-fluid performance persona and including songs he has performed during his previous musical theatre performances throughout his career. “In the cabaret I talk about my journey from being head boy at Bunbury Senior High School in 1995 to my journey now as a performer,” he said. “I am absolutely excited to be coming back to Bunbury to perform. “It will be my first time performing in Bunbury since I was in a production of South Pacific in 2000. “I’m really excited to be able to come back to a town where I spent my teenage years, be able to see my parents and family that are still there and be able to tell my story in a form of performance that really shows the real me and a side of myself that I have never performed in Bunbury before. “It’s a bit of a coming out story really.” TeAotonga said performing and make-up artistry had always been a significant aspect of his life despite starting out working in the corporate world. “In the early stages it had been a wonderful way for me to express myself in a way that I possibly couldn’t in my own personal and private life to play around with characters I guess in order to hide away from who I was,” he said. “Through the medium of theatre I was able to meet people that accepted me for the creative, quirky person that I was. “Make-up was always something that was a part of theatre but it sort of started crossing lines when an opportunity came along for me to study in make-up about eight or nine years ago. “My first job out of high school was working for the City of Bunbury so my journey through work to start with was very corporate. “Although make-up was just something that I was just going to do for myself, I developed such a passion for it that I decided to start working as a make-up artist. “The passion for make-up really just comes from theatre, to be in all these productions where make-up and costumes are always a huge part of performing.” Along with working as a freelance make-up artist, TeAotonga also works as a make-up designer, creating looks for various productions including Frozen the Musical, and teaches at TAFE. “It’s crazy and then on top of all this ‘why not write and perform a cabaret?’” he laughed. “It’s been hard not to say to say no to so many creative opportunities, but I feel like I have gone further out of my comfort zone and I feel so honoured and privileged to be offered them. “I tend to just say yes and then worry about how I’m going to make it happen after. “I’m a bit of perfectionist as well so anything I do is never going to be half-assed and it has to represent who I am. “There’s no otherwise and that’s how I approach things in life.” Bunbury Fringe Festival starts from January 20.