Your Theatrics International Cabaret Contest
Your Theatrics International
Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre
Saturday January 11 2014
Attended by Xanthe Coward
Congratulations to Queensland Winner, Jessica Papst!
“The Cabaret Showcase has been growing year after year, but 2013 looks to be the most exciting yet. I have had the joy of being associated with it for many years and to see the progress of its winners – on TV, in musical theatre, with their award winning podcasts and sell-out international shows”.
David Campbell – Australian Entertainment Industry Icon and Cabaret Contest Patron
On Saturday we arrived at Brisbane Powerhouse for Sam’s 4pm call. He and Australian Cabaret Showcase Winner of 2011, Angela Harding, had plenty of time to catch up and plan their approach to the gig, which was delightful and charming (Ang) and more than a little bit cheeky (Sam).
The Queensland heat finalists were Julie Beard, Toni Zaffa, Adam Flower, James Halloran, Rachel Head, Bobbie-Jean Henning, Louise Kennedy, Steve MacKay, Dana Musil, Jessica Papst, Nicole Power, Belinda Raisin, Belinda Hanne-Reid & Marcus Skeggs. Each took their turn to sound check and then there was time to warm up (or grab a drink and a quick snack upstairs at Bar Alto. The mashed mint pea bruschetta is excellent, just so you know).
A capacity Visy audience enjoyed varied performances, and to tell the whole truth, among them were just a few that actually looked and sounded like “cabaret”. Sam and I have argued about this, but to me and to the Sydney judges – read below what Neil Litchfield reiterated after the Sydney heat via Stage Whispers – when you’ve got an 8-minute segment you need to do a little more than sing a couple of your best audition pieces.
Offerings where patter simply strings together a couple of showtunes of choice don’t cut the mustard any more.
Scaled back from the previous competition format which included multiple Sydney heats, the performance standard was impressive throughout, and it was probably the quality of concept, writing skills, or a directorial hand kicking in which made the difference – that, and the ability to adeptly distill the essence of a longer show into the time constraint, ahead of the dreaded bell.
Given just eight minutes each, it’s about enough time for two contrasting songs to display vocal and dramatic range, top notes, etc., tightly selected linking patter from those fully developed scripts, and that was the most common approach, though effectively others pluck multiple grabs which display the facets of their talents and offer a broad picture of the longer version…
Audience choice Ben Hudson’s instagram inspired piece, along with judges’ selections Monique Salle (and her Italian cousin), Melody Beck’s tribute to Marnie Nixon, hilarious self-accompanied comedian Sarah Gaul with her own outstanding comic song and Brendan Hay, blending comedy with a heartwrenching version of a Broadway standard, as the son of Cruella de Vil, go through to the Grand Final on January 17, at The Basement in Sydney.
Typecasting, a torchy seductress, Shakespeare on Broadway in 2014, Nuts, self-accompanied stories of a cruise ship piano bar performer or the archetypal cabaret theme of love gone wrong also featured in a night of diverse choices and storytelling.
Well, what IS cabaret? Historically, the genre has taken on many different guises, including acts as diverse as burlesque, comedy, variety and performance art, but as Sam and I discussed at the end of the night with Your Theatrics’ Jeremy Youett, this contest is specifically designed to showcase artists in the Grand Final who are just about tour-ready, with the talent and the concept to entertain an audience for an entire evening without the support of too many additional elements (also, too many props can get messy. Just saying). A team of industry experts will work with the winner to develop their show, but the essence of it must be apparent, and there must be a certain level of confidence and a connection between artist and audience. Cabaret ain’t easy! And that’s precisely why the good cabaret artists stand out. Think previous winners, Sheridan Harbridge, Bradley McCaw, Angela Harding and Gillian Cosgriff. Also, Craig McLachlan in the 40th Anniversary production of The Rocky Horror Show. Seriously. His performance is exceptional. And very cabaret. Once we see the work of artists of this calibre we understand that there are in fact, no rules in cabaret.
To those artists yet to perform in a heat, or in the Grand Final on Friday night (January 17) at The Basement in Sydney, CHOOKAS!
Brisbane Powerhouse, The Judith Wright Centre and QPAC offer Queensland artists the next opportunity to try their hand at the art form, in the Queensland Cabaret Festival. If you’re intending to enter, you’ve missed the December deadline, but you can make sure you’re there to see the line up!
International and Australian cabaret stars take to the stage from 6-15 June at Queensland Cabaret Festival – a new festival taking place across Brisbane Powerhouse, QPAC, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, Arts Centre Gold Coast, Ipswich Civic Centre and in regional centres.
According to Queensland Cabaret Festival co-creative producers Kris Stewart and Alison St. Ledger the festival is set to bring Queenslanders the best of local and international cabaret.
Kris Stewart commented “Queensland Cabaret Festival builds upon the Brisbane Cabaret festival foundations and takes it to another level – there’ll be international and Australian performers covering the sequin-spangled heights of cabaret in all its forms.
“If you enjoy great music, dance, circus and burlesque, delivered with drama, humour and glamour then you’ll be right at home during Queensland Cabaret Festival.”
Alison St. Ledger said “We want artists that will shock, entertain and seduce an audience; no idea is too wild.”
XS Entertainment and Noosa Arts Theatre offer another opportunity in October, for performers on the Sunshine Coast (and beyond!) when we launch Keep Calm and Cabaret. Keep an eye out for more details and be prepared to submit your application before September via YouTube or USB.
In the meantime, aspiring cabaret performers can audition for Oscar Theatre Co’s boy&girl