Rumour Has It
Queensland Theatre Company
& the little red company
Bille Brown Studio
October 7 – 17 2015
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
Slicker and funnier and more affecting than ever, the little red company’s Rumour Has It returns to Brisbane, this time as a (DIVA) highlight in QTC’s 2015 program.
It feels different in the Bille Brown Studio, with a bank of tiered seating behind a section of cabaret tables – the first time we’ve seen this set up here – and it’s not quite as intimate as earlier versions, staged at Stockholm Syndrome, berardo’s restaurant & bar and also at Slide Sydney and Melbourne’s Chapel Off Chapel. Oh, and an unforgettable performance at the Matilda Awards in 2012! Ironically, the most intimate atmosphere was created in April 2013 in a much larger space at the Judith Wright Centre. (Let’s not forget that it was largely due to Lewis Jones’ support at the Judy that this show continued to grow).
I guess you never forget your first (few), but this latest version sees the show and its star in their best shape so far. It’s inspired programming for something mostly unseen by the state theatre company’s outgoing Artistic Director, Wesley Enoch. Price tells me she remembers performing for 850 people, a 25-minute version of the show (for QUT’s 25th Anniversary Gala in 2014) in a room so big that some of the guests thought she actually was Adele. This was Enoch’s only experience of the production. Luckily, Rumour Has It has proven to be a sure bet wherever it goes. Are you listening, Las Vegas???
I’m certain there’s a Celine show waiting to happen…
More gin, anyone?
Nobody but the indomitable Naomi Price could bring us such an authentic, dynamic performance as someone else whilst retaining so much of herself in the show. It’s convincingly Adele but it’s completely Price, and there are very few performers we can count in that particular talent pool. I’m thinking of Catherine Alcorn (The Divine Miss Bette, Go Your Own Way), Christie Whelan Browne (Britney Spears the Cabaret), and Elise McCann (Everybody Loves Lucy). Price has the uncanny ability to read an audience early, set and change the mood as if at the flick of a switch and keep us captivated with her charm, her wicked sense of humour and sheer vocal power. And she can sell a story.
This version of the show (120 mins + interval), updated to reflect the current political climate and Jessie J’s take on the merits of “artists” v “entertainers”, comes dangerously close for half a moment to getting uncomfortably…personal. (Don’t worry, our favourite mimicry of Celine Dion and Amy Winehouse is still in there and again, the patter surrounding each performance is just as good as Price’s impersonations – I hear actual hoots of laughter at this point!). The new addition though – Jessie J making an appearance in Taylor Swift’s place – is absolutely priceless. (If you missed The Voice you might also miss the relevance of this delightful little jab). The impersonation is on point, and bookended by “Adele’s” typical witty wickedness, the final dig landing bang on target, proves once more that we can never underestimate the value of brilliant writing, or of precision timing in terms of its delivery #bangbang #boom
Generously acknowledged by Price and rightly so, is her world-class cast of musos and backing vocalists, some of the busiest in the country; together they make a slick, sexy band in a class of their own. They are Jason McGregor (Musical Director & guitars), Michael Manikus (piano), Andrew Johnson (bass), Mik Eastman (drums), Rachael Everett-Jones (vocalist), Tom Oliver (vocalist) and Luke Kennedy (vocalist). With original arrangements by Price, McGregor and Manikus, and vocal arrangements by Price and Kennedy, there’s simply no better sounding company. The creative team is just as impressive: Adam Brunes (writer), Jason Glenwright (lighting designer), Jamie Taylor (production manager & audio engineer and thank goodness, the sound is spot on), and Nathalie Ryner & Leigh Buchanan (costuming). A special mention goes to Dextress Hair’s Rebecca Hubbard, who perfected the wigs for this production.
If everyone involved in this production can keep juggling their creative commitments Rumour Has It – now one of Australia’s most loved original cabarets – might not be local for much longer. With Adele’s third album about to be released, an international stint couldn’t be more perfectly timed… Anyone?
If you’ve never seen Naomi Price in “the Adele show”, now’s your chance.
Rumour Has It is world class and without a doubt the most entertaining evening of the year. Don’t miss it this time.
Production pics by Dylan Evans Photography
See more of Naomi Price in QTC’s Ladies in Black
November 14 – December 6 2015
Naomi Price joins Andrew Broadbent, Kate Cole, Carita Farrer Spencer, Bobby Fox, Kathryn McIntyre, Lucy Maunder, Sarah Morrison, Christen O’Leary, Deidre Rubenstein and Greg Stone.
Directed by Simon Phillips, the world premiere of Ladies in Black – a magical modern-day fairytale – features original music by Tim Finn.