06
Dec
13

Tom Sharah: It’s Raining Me & Amy Housewine: Back To Crack

Tom Sharah: It’s Raining Me

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

5 – 7 December 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Award-winning cabaret performer, and star of Channel 10’s I Will Survive and Channel 9’s Mornings, Tom Sharah has an incurable case of charisma. 

Born into an Australian showbiz family, Tom emerged from the womb with an extravagant finger-snap and a smart high-kick, and has barely drawn breath since.

It’s Raining Me takes audiences on a break-neck journey through the trials and tribulations of a boy who was always way too fierce for civilian life, intertwined with ferocious renditions of some of your favourite pop and disco numbers.

It’s Raining Me is an outrageous, courageous, and distinctly contagious night of cabaret.

BPH_Tom_Sharah_1_2013-1177x663

 

Tom Sharah is a fabulous performer, just gorgeous, with an extraordinary treasure trove of vocal talent.

He commands the stage and in his cabaret show, Tom Sharah: It’s Raining Me, seen for the first time in Brisbane, Tom Sharah tells the funniest stories at his own, and his showbiz family’s expense. A natural storyteller with terrific comic timing, Sharah is also generous and doesn’t hesitate to share the spotlight with his talented brother, Oscar. He gives credit to his parents (Dad was Australia’s original Riff Raff and Mum is one of our most respected arts writers) for his eccentricities and unique gifts, which have allowed him to waltz seemingly effortlessly into the industry. But I know Sharah has been hard at work on this show since I saw it last, presented as a double bill with Sarah Louise Young, at this year’s Noosa Long Weekend Festival in June.

In Noosa, I came away thinking, “This guy is too cool for school! Imagine what he could do if he were to WERK!” It was an awesome show and I knew I wanted to see him work even harder on stage, as opposed to breezing in and out, and wowing us with his natural talent! WOW! So much natural talent! Last night at The Visy Theatre Sharah shone in what was a sharper, cleaner and more confident performance than we’ve seen previously, retaining the same hilarious anecdotes, from childhood and from the television reality series I Will Survive, without the flicker of self-doubt or a distracting thought. Entirely focused on entertaining us, the patter is smooth and delivered with the knowing smile now, of a genuine star on the rise.

The set list is diverse and reflects many moods and stops along the way, as well as a few dreams yet to be realised, with one of the highlights of the night being Sharah’s cheeky rendition of Frank n Furter’s Sweet Transvestite. I remain quietly confident that we’ll see Sharah in The Rocky Horror Show yet! In the same vein as IOTA and Paul Capsis, this guy is going to be increasingly sought after as his fan base builds.

While the disco medley proved popular with Brisbane’s opening night audience, it’s Sharah’s soaring renditions of Let Me Be Your Star (Smash) and Here Where I Stand (Camp) that prove his power ballad status, and his slick, soft harmonies in the Oscar-acoustically-arranged I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Whitney Houston) that continue to melt hearts.

Sharah earned a hearty standing ovation and an entirely new fan base in Brisbane last night and if you’re smart (and fast!) you’ll join the party with the most heart in town and get along tonight or tomorrow night to catch this livewire while we’re lucky enough to have him here. Sharah’s show is for everyone, and everyone will love it!

Amy Housewine: Back To Crack

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

5 – 7 December 2013

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Amy Winehouse was a great talent we lost too soon in 2011. But we still have the indestructible Amy Housewine. 

Lisa Adam (Jersey BoysRocky Horror) is back as the irrepressible OTHER Amy, complete with big hair, big voice and a raging drugs and alcohol addiction.

Meet Housewine as she lurches her way through classics ‘Rehab’, ‘If I Only Had Cocaine’ and ‘I Love to Have a Beer with Amy’ and dishes the dirt on her life as a singer, poet and professional crack-whore.

Amy Housewine: Back to Crack is a lethal cocktail of hilarity, bad taste and stunning vocals.

If you’re looking for a cheeky tipple, a quick shot or a boozy night out, join Housewine as she romps her way through Brisbane Powerhouse looking for drinking buddies and barflies.

This adults-only show features drinking, swearing, drug use and passing out in a pool of your own vomit.

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This is a strangely successful little show.

Lisa Adam, as the indestructible Amy Housewine, has toured with her groovy three-piece band for years, always to great acclaim. She’s absolutely lovely and when she totters onto the stage in sky-high red patent heels I think, “Fantastic!” But the show has no real story, no real poignancy, and it does little to showcase the versatile talents of its star. We get the voice but we don’t care about what we’re hearing. It’s as if we’re watching the Titanic move steadily towards its doom but we somehow miss getting to know and love anybody on board and as a consequence we don’t miss them so much when they’re gone. Are we really so desensitised to the death of a celebrity?

Clearly, the show is not my cup of tea and clearly, the gist of it did not appeal to everybody’s tastes last night at The Visy Theatre. (It may have been a mistake to include a ten-minute interval, during which several audience members made their escape!). But there must be enough of a fan base in each full house – yes, you better believe it, she sells out every time – to keep it going. And go it does, on and on, relentlessly and repetitively, about Amy Winehouse’s/Amy Housewine’s drug use and rather rapid demise.

Despite the involvement of writers, Trevor Ashley and Phil Scott (known for Fat Swan and Little Orphan Trashley), I expected a story, a journey or some vague arc that would intrigue us and attempt to win us over in the end. I anticipated feeling some sympathy for Housewine, as I do for Winehouse, but even after the star’s tragic death, which influenced minor re-writes, this production only presents a shallow parody of Winehouse’s worst traits, and does little to celebrate her talent or her popularity with her fans. The claim from the creatives is that Amy Housewine is “a character in her own right”, but unfortunately it just doesn’t come across this way.

In its original inception, and even now, Lisa Adam’s characterisation is from all accounts (and from the YouTube footage), dead accurate – no pun intended – and in its accuracy she’s a confronting (and tragic, pathetic, smiling, fallen-from-grace) figure, full of booze and a colourful cocktail of drugs and curse words.

The message is made very clear: DRUGS ARE BAD

…and yet the crude celebration of the celebrity substance-fuelled party lifestyle throws back in our faces the main message, as if daring us to cast judgment and find fault with it. Many of the jokes fall flat, with the audience unsure about what the appropriate response might be. An entire spiel about a massive night out that ends at Buckingham Palace leaves me wondering, “What even WAS that?!” While there is indeed laughter from some, there is stony silence from others, and the intimate space suddenly loses the sense of fun and genuine delight with which Tom Sharah had filled it during his show, It’s Raining Me, earlier the same evening.

I blame The Little Red Company and Naomi Price for contributing to my disappointment in this show, and give them full credit for raising the bar in Brisbane as far as celebrity parody shows go. In her unique cabaret show, Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele, Price demonstrates sensitivity and sympathy for her subject as well as wry wit, and combined with an impressive set list and a class company of musos and back-up vocalists, creates the most memorable brand of humour. Unlike the lows that these writers feel the need to stoop to – celebrity tabloid type snide remarks, and crude observations and elaborations on the worst sort of headlines – Price manages every time to reveal the imagined inner truth of her subject and to keep us on side until the encore. To find these special qualities in Amy Housewine: Back to Crack would be to create an entirely new show that might actually pay tribute to a genuine talent, and earn our sympathy and far greater respect for the talented artist playing her.

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