Posts Tagged ‘adam brunes

10
Aug
19

Lady Beatle

Lady Beatle

La Boite & Little Red Company

La Boite Roundhouse

August 7 – 10 2019

 

Reviewed by Shannon John Miller

 

 

Like most kids, I would first come to know The Beatle’s music through my dad. With his collection of 45’s, which he still has, we would listen to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Yellow Submarine and Penny Lane amongst others from the crackling turntable. I remember watching that needle wondrously glide and float upon the grooves of the record as Dad would dance along and play air drums, lost in a broken rock and roll dream, perhaps. And now, years on, admittedly my favourite genre of music is orchestrated versions of pop songs performed by some of the most extravagant cover bands like the London Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops Orchestra playing Hey Jude and Eleanor Rigby. We all have our personal stories of how we know The Beatles. They’re a rite of passage and like Bach, Mozart or Shakespeare, seminal in their modern pop music inventions.

 

Always keen to hear how artists interpret The Beatle’s canon of pop, vocalist Naomi Price, reprises her titular role as, Lady Beatle with co-creator Adam Brunes, Mik Easterman on keys, Andrew Johnson on bass, Michael Manikus on drums and Jason McGregor on guitar. Described as a “kaleidoscopic journey through The Beatles’ most monumental hits this performance marks the beginning of a three-month tour across the country.

 

 

The band assembles on retro podiums. The light is scarce and broody but for a contemporary chandelier of crystal shards cascading with sparkles just above Price as she takes the stage in an iconic straight jet-black wig and military issue marching band uniform.  While we’re in the stalls, there’s cabaret seating in the “mosh pit” of La Boite’s theatre and the audience, clinking with wine glasses and bottles, are immediately receptive to the energy Price’s band are promising. 

 

Kicking out a punchy overture of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, Price and her band will continue to wow audiences throughout the night with beat-driven reimaginings of Hey Jude, Yellow Submarine and Come Together with particular noteworthy performances of Eleanor Rigby, Don’t Let Me Down and Here Comes the Sun. (The latter for which Price received a standing ovation part way through the show.) She not only showcases the full breadth of her vocal dynamic but also that she has the desperate yearnings and poetry within her to take us on the emotional journey. One of the difficulties with such a show is to elevate the material higher than just mere covers; to be more than just a juke box monologue. And she does just that. She brings something new and old; a courageous new rock music language both timeless and innovative.

 

Price is bold, electric, she twists and shouts, she uses her body, she kicks and turns, she uses every artifice and physicality at her disposal, she lets loose, then turns inward; tiny and small. She approaches the audience like we are her friends, like we’ve come over to her house after school and we’re going through her vinyl collection together as she shares her favourite Beatles’ songs.

 

 

Between pieces, Price stops to reflect in Liverpudlian on more obscure notions. Her stories are presented as if she is omnipotent, she is everyone, she is no one, impossibly moving forward and backwards in time, explaining in an almost fractured poetry a series of vignettes about her grandmother who taught her about The Beatles, about Paul McCartney, Ringo, John Lennon, George Harrison and Brian Epstein’s tragedy. Price mixes up the fantastical and the factual sometimes coming from the point of view of a tortured fangirl wanting to be the fifth member of The Beatles. But at times the intention of the narrative is lost, juxtaposed between a seemingly innocuous tribute and the melancholy pages of an angsty teenage diary.  With themes of existential crises, insignificance, and the burden of living in the shadows of unrealised dreams, Lady Beatle is part memoir, part fiction, part documentary. As a narrator, Price is unreliable as she weaves stories together some seen naively through a kaleidoscope of modern sensibilities. But we come to understand her stories may not necessarily be a cohesive arch; the vignettes are undeveloped and at times leave unappealing malaise and unanswered questions with the audience to reconcile.

 

 

Nevertheless, this is a fun and unabashedly toe-tapping show with innovative lighting design by Jason Glenwright, sound design by Jamie Taylor and costuming by Leigh Buchanan. A tightly executed operation, which serves to honour the music of a most world-beloved band. In Danny Boyle’s recently released film, Yesterday in which a struggling musician wakes to discover that he is the only person who remembers The Beatles’ music, I felt similarly reminded of how Lady Beatle taps into our own personal relationship with the music of The Beatles; a relationship which only we can know, and like the film Yesterday, is secretly hidden and unknown to the rest of the world. 

 

Lady Beatle tours until November 9. Tour dates here.

 

 

30
May
17

Lady Beatle

 

Lady Beatle

La Boite Theatre Company & The Little Red Company

La Boite Roundhouse Theatre

May 25 – June 3 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.

John Lennon

We used to sing a song to Poppy when she was little.

Ladybug, ladybug, landed on my stinky toe….. It was so funny; we would giggle and sing bits of it intermittently for days at a time. It still makes me smile (and if we’re honest, we still sing it from time to time).

Did you even know that lady beetles don’t see colour? They see only grey. Perhaps I knew this once, or I should have known it, since my dad is an entomologist and no doubt has told me this and many other fascinating insect facts, but I think I’d forgotten. I’ve never forgotten rowdy closing night parties and random days and nights throughout my childhood, singing The Beatles’ songs at the tops of our voices. There are things that contribute far more than other things to the grown ups we become, and if The Beatles were part of your childhood or adolescent soundtrack too, you probably turned out alright. Poppy, now eleven, agrees that The Beatles are timeless, for every generation, “even if not ALL of my friends have a favourite Beatles’ song.” Poppy’s favourite Beatles’ song is, appropriately, Here Comes The Sun. If you know Poppy, you know how perfect that is.

I’ve been thinking about Lady Beetle Syndrome a lot. A major aspect of our Master of Professional Practice Performing Arts is psychology and self care, and the way in which we, as artists, look after ourselves and support each other. And just as the lady beetles don’t see their own bold beauty, despite our strengths and reflective practice, we often fail to recognise in ourselves the things that appear obvious to everyone else.

 

This sensational show, the third and final in The Little Red Company’s trilogy of pop culture cabaret productions starring Naomi Price (following the hugely successful Wrecking Ball & Rumour Has It), depended largely upon La Boite’s recognition of the company’s previous success and their faith in the creation of new product, even before the creators knew what it would look like. With only the title to start the process, La Boite held space, gifting the luxury of time to the artists, who were able to immerse themselves in a truly collaborative development period in between the demands of touring, managing to keep Rumour Has It on the road while writing and rehearsing Lady Beatle. I don’t think any of our artists strive to be owned by a venue, but La Boite’s Todd MacDonald, like QPAC’s John Kotzas, and our other industry leaders (at Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse, Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts and Metro Arts), has certainly provided the vital support that makes it less stressful and more enjoyable to be an artist, or a company of artists, creating new work in Australia. Sam Strong was right to insist we begin to recognise that we are, indeed, leading from Queensland in so many ways.

Premiering on the 50th Anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, this production is the ultimate deep and meaningful feel-good show, with a guaranteed touring life ahead of it. It goes to Adelaide and Noosa next, and I’ll be surprised if we don’t see it back in town in September for Brisbane Festival. Imagine, in the Spiegeltent! But like Rumour Has It, when it moved to more spacious venues, this show is bound to take on a different vibe, and I do love the intimacy of this first version, using cabaret seating in The Roundhouse, and allowing us to feel as if the stories are special secrets shared between Lady Beatle and her closest friends, i.e. anyone who loves The Beatles as much as she does.

Co-creators, Naomi Price and Adam Brunes, just about perfected contemporary cabaret with the many incarnations of Rumour Has It, but this time they’ve made the experience more personal. Rather than taking on multiple roles or an iconic role, Price is a complex, compelling, mysterious woman from Liverpool who loves The Beatles. She loves them more than anything else in the world. She was there at the Cavern in 1962 for their first ever performance, and recalls watching them running, with nothing to lose, towards the light at the end of a dark tunnel, and into a crowd of hundreds of screaming fans. No fear. Just running towards it all. In the music and personalities of the lads she finds her escape and inspiration, and a way back to a world in which she thought she’d never belong.

With The Beatles in it, the woman’s grey world becomes kaleidoscopic and full of promise.

A rousing, crowd pleasing Yellow Submarine sounds just the way we thought it might (and yes, we sing along), but new musical arrangements allow for a raw, sweet, pure Penny Lane and a dark, sombre, somehow sadder than ever Eleanor Rigby. Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra, The Camerata, play Andrew Johnson’s original string arrangement (recorded, mixed and mastered by Geoff McGahan). In true sharing culture style, The Little Red Company has made this stunning track available to download for FREE. The Lonely Hearts Club Band comprises four lads who are easily among our country’s best musicians; we’ve seen the proof of it in previous productions. They are Jason McGregor, Andrew Johnson, Michael Manikus and Mik Easterman. They scrub up well, in suits by Leigh Buchanan. Price wears knee highs and a mod woollen coat dress to start and a sparkling classic red pants suit to finish; very Elle Macpherson/Goldie Hawn/Celine Dion, and both outfits are just right with her black bobbed hair. Jamie Taylor’s sound design and engineering is first class, and Jason Glenwright’s tubular lighting is both practical and magical, retaining the focus on the singer and the songs.

Although I actually want to see Price singing it, it’s fitting that a rendition of Blackbird comes literally out of the dark. Let It Be wraps a proper rock medley, and it’s an ear worm of inspiration and comfort, a reminder of the present moment, to continue to “hurry slowly” through life from the place of stillness and self-love that’s easy enough to find in our quieter moments, but so difficult to carry with us as we go into our busy days and nights.

Lady Beatle is mostly upbeat, but it has some beautifully charged and reflective moments, and while it’s a tribute, with its focus firmly on the life affirming, world changing music of The Beatles, we’re invited to go deeper to consider everything that’s precious in our lives right now. Price is in fine voice; she can twist and shout and whisper and croon and rock! The ultimate entertainer, she opens (and closes) the show with a bang, settling into a friendly, intimate tone from the outset, simply inviting us to join her on a trip down memory lane, into a world of tangerine trees, marmalade skies, and strawberry fields forever. It’s a brilliant concept, a massively appealing and entertaining show, superbly delivered. We’re left with a sneaking suspicion that there’s more to come.

When the band plays and the voice soars, and the entire sold-out opening night crowd sings along, you know you’re at one of the best new shows of the decade. You know you’ll get to see it again.

 

10
Oct
15

Rumour Has It

 

Rumour Has It

Queensland Theatre Company

& the little red company

Bille Brown Studio

October 7 – 17 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

rumourhasit_daydreamer

 

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.

 

Rumour-Has-It.-A-production-by-the-little-red-company.-Pictured-Naomi-Price.-Image-9-by-Dylan-Evans

 

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.

 

Rumour-Has-It.-A-production-by-the-little-red-company.-Pictured-Naomi-Price.-Image-12-by-Dylan-Evans

 

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.

 

rumourhasit_naomiprice

 

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.

 

27
Apr
15

Samson

 

Samson

La Boite and Belvoir Street Theatre

Roundhouse Theatre

April 17 – May 2 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

samson_memorial

 

#samsonisdead

 

Hey! I ‘reckon I know this place. I know the winding, wild-sunflowers-in-summer drive up there, the noisy picnic area, the quieter walk down to the swimming hole, the glorious birdsong along the way, the freezing water, the rocks, the moss, the tree, the rope, the boys who climb and swing and jump…

 

I think we are supposed to question whether Samson’s death is suicide or really, truly, actually a stupid accident. Am I too suspicious? I say I think we are supposed to because I’m not sure what this production wants from us. It’s an intriguing, quite lovely coming-of-age play but in this life it’s not yet fully realised, despite a couple of previous versions. Its vibe reminds me of Jasper Jones, which must have been released at around the same time as Gone Girl. I remember racing out to buy my own copies from Books of Buderim (I remember Mum sighing, “ You don’t need your own copies. Borrow them from the library!”). I read both books quickly, one after the other, and wondered what kind of person would be able to bring this exquisite clash of characters together and take these incredible stories to the stage or screen.

 

“Writing, real writing, should leave a small sweet bruise somewhere on the writer . . . and on the reader.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

Julia-Rose Lewis offers us four fascinating characters and wonderful moments of quirky, messy reality in some of the imagery in Samson. It’s her first play so really, some remarkable writing in places, in some of the dialogue, in the connection between Essie (Ashleigh Cummings) and Rabbit (Benjamin Creek), but these are just brief glimpses into a world of young, bored, frustrated people who exist together on the edge of the world without ever really knowing why they’re there. Or how they can get outta’ there. It’s not the whole story. Of course it’s not. It never is.

 

samson_sunbaking

 

The first moments are promising. Despite the strange starkness of a rolling, rising and falling, sponge-painted one-tree-memorial “island” (Designer Michael Hili & Lighting Designer Ben Hughes), as the house lights dim and we hear Australian bushland birdsong (Composer & Sound Designer Kim Bowers), it certainly seems as if something interesting or exciting (or intriguing) will happen. The opening scene succeeds in getting our attention. Two teen friends play a secret drinking game, sharing things that never have they ever done and falling all over each other in their tickle war and general silliness, as girls do, when suddenly a boy of the same age enters and shouts across the space to them. All the conventions of the theatre tell us something bad happened. A friend must have drowned. But the delivery is not quite urgent or desperate enough. The breath comes too easily, the voice… I register the fact that there has possibly been a horrible death and feel nothing.

 

Okay. It’s only the first few minutes. I decide to give them another seventy.

 

samson_belindajombwe

 

It’s always a little strange to be sitting through something that doesn’t quite work. It’s a bit like being at a party and watching the peculiar and spectacular dances people do to try to fit in. I watch the tentative dances these actors do. It’s a funny first ten minutes on opening night, during which I can’t decide if I believe the action or not. It seems strained, and not because someone has died. I seem to be experiencing this play in pieces (and from far away, so strange). The story comes to us in neat little pieces, like choreography taught to us bit by bit at a dance call until all the disparate bits are put together to become a routine. It might not flow; it might not be quite ready for an audience, some of the sections are stronger than others, but with enough confidence it can be presented for an audition panel to get us through to the next round. In fact, it almost feels like we’re watching a workshop. There is confidence here!

 

samson_crystals

 

I love the authentic, easily found fun in the relationship that blossoms between Essie and Rabbit. With the guidance of Director, Kristine Landon-Smith, this fragile friendship develops ever so gradually – she is grieving, guarded; he is open, brazen and persistent – and we begin to see a genuine connection. She hangs with him, defends him and ultimately sides with him. The realness of these two, their relaxed banter, the contrasting personalities and different approaches to life, and the casual use of the intimate space between them highlight the lack of energy and depth in another relationship on stage. I’m unconvinced by it. It doesn’t help that for extended periods of time, for what seems like entire conversations, the actors have their backs to us, but this is not exclusive to this pair. Beth (Belinda Jombwe) and Sid (Charles Wu) both have their moments, but it occurs to me that we may not be seeing their best work in this production. There are moments that feel forced or otherwise oddly timed. (Teenage awkwardness and insecurity can only account for so much!). There are other things that make this one not-my-favourite-show-this-year, including some inattentive vocal work (mumbled words and monotone that could be forgiven if it carried a hint of character, however; it’s unhelpful when we lose the gist of what’s going on), and there are many missed facial expressions (because we are in the round and yet we are not working in the round!), and inconsistencies in the entrances and exits. Where IS the body of water? That way? Or THAT way?

 

“It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

The four characters have fairly substantial journeys, including a rigorous religious trip for Jombwe, and the need for a strong response to a very confusing discovery. In fact, the religious aspect brings forth quite a bit of confusion, as religion does. Even so, I find it unlikely that everybody actually swears so much in their ordinary conversations (rebels!) and also, it has to be said, that they must have all been “dating” without “doing” anything (virgins? Really? Is that the reason for the religious focus?), but whatevs. Cummings is able to hold her own – she is fine on stage; I hope she finds time to do more theatre work in amongst the screen commitments – but more often than not I find my attention turns to Creek, our ACPA graduate, who encapsulates all of the random energy, physicality and curiosity that is Rabbit, a boy on the verge of manhood. There is an interesting ceremonial aspect that’s worth a mention, in case you wanna’ read it as a symbol of some sort of initiation, behind the guise of a fun fire ritual to impress a girl. Whether or not it’s intentional, the nod to Rabbit’s spiritual side and his problematic family history are the most compelling elements of the multi-racial relationships in this piece.

 

I’ll look forward to seeing Creek in a contrasting role because it appears he was born to play this one. Creek’s performance is excellent, charismatic even (even when we can’t quite catch what he’s said!). He brings to the space the whole package in a wholly relaxed manner, usually observed in performers with a whole lot more stage experience. It will be interesting to see what a director might trust him to do next.

 

samson_fire

 

The balance between Cummings and Creek is pretty near perfect, and perhaps by the end of the Roundhouse run, Jombwe and Wu will have found their feet too. Or will have found the ground beneath their feet. Perhaps the upcoming Belvoir season will serve as further development. Perhaps a walk on the beach between seasons will do it. It really actually feels like this show doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up, a little like its characters, but having said that, I’m sure we’ll see it again. When you see it, you must let me know what you think.

 

I think the play is a keeper; it represents a generation that demands to be written about in a decidedly grown-up-but-resisting-growing-up way. These characters, their challenging behaviour and their violent vernacular cannot be contained within that often dodgy category, variously called “theatre for young people”, “theatre in education” or “youth theatre”. I don’t remember having language like this and relationships like these available for discussion in between our studies of Chekhov and Ibsen. And I’d love to incorporate some of these short scenes into the current realism unit, alongside The Property of the Clan and X-Stacy (yes, those old chestnuts! Still good!). It’s refreshing to see these characters and their stories here, staged for a general audience, which we’ve noticed since Brunes Days* is changing.

 

Samson will appeal to the Under 30s, sure, but there are decent challenges within it and some lovely nostalgia, which is for anyone who’s ever been involved in a precarious friendship or a difficult family situation. And isn’t that all of us?

 

samson_smoking

 

Lewis is without a doubt, a writer to keep an eye on. She’s already secured some great gigs, including commissions from Belvoir, HotHouse and Brisbane Powerhouse. In case you’re not suitably impressed, you should be because IMPRESSIVE!

 

I can’t wait to see her next story brought to vivid life on stage or screen.

In the meantime, there is Samson. See it before May 2 and make up your own mind.

 

*Brunes Days: those days (and nights) before Adam Brunes became an indie producer/marketing guru away from La Boite. I’m sure he won’t mind me sharing his mugshot…

 

(if he does mind we’ll call it #openingnightofficestyle)

 

adambrunes_brunesdays_mugshot

 

 

 

Production Images by Dylan Evans

 

23
Aug
14

Wrecking Ball

 

wreckingball_GC artscentre

 

Wrecking Ball

Brisbane Powerhouse

Visy Theatre

May 28 – 31 2014

 

Hannah Montana is dead.

 

The postmortem is inconclusive. Natural causes? Or hot-mess murder gone platinum?
Childhood friend Miley returns home to Nashville for the wake. Forget the funeral, it’s the party she’s come for.
In this open letter to you – her pouters and doubters – Miley takes a sledge hammer to Disney dreams, teen idols and tabloid fantasies.

 

This is one eulogy you’ll kill to see.

 

Wrecking Ball hails from the creators of the critically acclaimed Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele and is the ultimate coming of age party, starring Naomi Price.

 

We saw Wrecking Ball at Brisbane Powerhouse in May. This is the new show from brazen creative team, Adam Brunes and Naomi Price; the perfect precursor that night to Rhonda Burchmore’s Vinyl Viagra.

 

Wrecking Ball came at us hard and fast…gently, and left me feeling like I knew Miley – and Naomi – a little better.

 

naomiprice_wreckingball

 

Look, I’m no Smiler but I’m a big fan of our super talented friends, so when Adam Brunes and Naomi Price told us after the final Adele show last year that the subject of their next creative process was to be Miley Cyrus I tried to be optimistic. In truth, I was skeptical, and more than a little scared for them. Miley? Really? Was Brisbane ready to twerk? Was there even an hour’s worth of material to Miley’s story? Well of course there was, and there’s more – much more – to this show than the token twerk. It’s quite an unexpected result.

 

In the hands of less intelligent, less compassionate creatives we might suffer through a cheap, crass parody. Instead, we’re treated to deeper insight into the imagined world of Miley, and what we can only imagine might be a very real part of Price’s world.

 

Wrecking Ball somehow avoids delivering an over simplified slut and strut success story, opting instead for a sensitive exploration of what makes Miley tick. And twerk. A rather unorthodox premise establishes that Hannah Montana is dead and we’re all in attendance at her wake in a barn with a band dressed in denim and cowboy boots. Brilliant! And we love the band! (Mik Easterman, Andrew Johnson, Michael Manikus, Jason McGregor and Rachel Everett-Jones. In Rachel’s absence this weekend, Georgie Prestipino will be appearing).

 

the-little-red-companys-WRECKING-BALL.-Image-1.-Pictured-Naomi-Price.-Image-by-Dylan-Evans

 

But what actually is it about Naomi Price? Her voice is perfection, her booty is hot, and her allure is electric to say the least, letting us in on a whole new level of energy and sophistication, regardless of the role. And she’s a master of mimicry without losing anything of herself. I’m not sure how she does it. And I don’t think it can be taught. However, what Price offers is a masterclass in what I’ve been hashtagging #neocabaret. No, it’s not the dark, gypsy, gothic Diabolical Streaks style (it doesn’t need to be); it’s a brand new and bold cabaret, which sets its own ground rules and then sets out to break them.

 

the-little-red-companys-WRECKING-BALL.-Image-4.-Pictured-Naomi-Price.-Image-by-Dylan-Evans1-1024x683

 

So many moments are suggestive of this intuitive new approach to “cabaret”, its traditional shape, form and feeling, but let’s use just one. Achy Breaky Heart, rather than being the pinnacle comical moment, is presented as the moment of Miley’s father’s heartbreak. We know the opening to the song and I feel the full house collectively cringe, but we feel compassion rather than pity, and we’re struck with sympathy rather than hilarity. It’s a magical moment, a mood changer, and Brunes and Price do it every time. (In Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele it was most noticeable in Daydreamer).

 

This show is an unusual expression of celebrity, challenging us to accept and forgive the quirks rather than judging and condemning them.

 

Wrecking Ball will return, it will tour, and already, in its debut, this show has reinforced Naomi Price’s place at the top of the Australian cabaret tree. At the same time, we’ve found new respect for Miley Cyrus along the way. Hannah Montana not so much.

 

For one night only, catch Naomi Price as Miley Cyrus inWrecking Ball at The Basement, The Arts Centre Gold Coast 8pm TONIGHT!

 

 

27
Apr
13

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre & The Little Red Company 

24th – 28th April 2013

 

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

Rumour has it The Little Red Company is planning to take Sixty Minutes Inside Adele overseas.

 

 

Rumour Has It. Naomi Price. Image by Dylan Evans.

I first saw this show in Stockholm (Brisbane’s short-lived cabaret space upstairs at Stockholm Syndrome Cafe and Bar in Albion) after it had premiered at the Gold Coast Arts Centre last year. Since then the work has evolved considerably, and the latest version is superior, combining spellbinding vocals and slick, witty patter – less of it – with a hot band (Jason McGregor, Andrew Johnson, Mik Easterman & Brett Fowler) and three polished performers on backing vocals (Rachel Everett-JonesLuke Kennedy & Laisiasa Utovou).

 

The Judy has never felt so welcoming, with a free exhibition in the Shopfront by Photographer Dylan Evans (The Dylan Evans Experience features Adele Uncovered, a collection of “candid” shots of Naomi Price as Adele), and a brand new configuration inside the theatre, at Price’s request, to avoid distancing herself from her audience. Price is a performer who knows instinctively what an audience wants. And she delivers on every level.

 

The Up Late show at 10pm on Friday night followed hot on the high black heels of an earlier performance so in the foyer as we collected our tickets and exchanged hugs and kisses (MWAH!) with a crowd that included Chris Beckey, Lauren Jackson, Thomas Larkin, Guy Frawley and Samantha Turk (on her stopover between London and Tanzania. More on that in another post!), there was already a wonderful crossover taking place, as people spilled out and collided into those who were waiting to take their seats inside. There was amazing energy in the air, and a level of excitement usually reserved for opening nights.

 

Naomi Price, possessing greater talent than I suspect even she realises, has reached an exciting place with this version of the show. Co-created with Adam Brunes over gin on the back deck, and refined over five recent seasons across the country, Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele is a very different show. It’s suddenly a great deal more sophisticated, thrusting Price back into a spotlight she’d stepped away from for a year, if you recall, of touring schools and teaching singers. Price seems to have realised (or remembered) where it is she belongs and that is in the spotlight, in front of a captivated crowd.

 

The ambience is helped by big perfect sound, by Jason Glenwright’s swish lighting design (this guy is EVERYWHERE!), featuring a fantastic collection of vintage lamp shades, hanging at various lengths in various places about the space, and the rather ramshackle relaxed and cosy “cabaret” style seating arrangement. It’s easy to envisage this show going on in any of the world’s top cabaret venues. It’s as if this extra show has been added to let us know it’s now ready for the international circuit. (I can’t wait to see it again soon, Supper Club style, in the intimate space of berardo’s during the internationally renowned Noosa Long Weekend Festival!)

 

Every number is stronger and sassier than before. There’s a new intensity, and something between sympathy and integrity replaces much of the parody. We see more of Adele and fewer of her superfluous layers, which have been stripped away by a couple of pairs of discerning eyes during the redevelopment process. The subtle changes make for a slicker, more honest performance.

 

Rumour Has It. Naomi Price. Image by Dylan Evans.

A master of mood change, Price takes us effortlessly from one number to the next, for the first time stepping into the audience with her Musical Director Jason McGregor to sing Daydreamer amidst a cloud of bubbles. She quips about the low (“emerging Queensland artists”) production budget and that sadly, bubbles were the best they could do. It’s funny because it’s true. (How lucky are our artists, to have venues and presenters like The Judy supporting them? More on THAT in another post!). In the same breath, the song takes over in an extended, spellbinding moment that could just as easily, in somebody else’s hands, have come across as a cheap way into a gorgeous song, and not in the least bit funny or entertaining. There are several moments like this throughout the show, when Price so expertly manipulates content and form to achieve the desired response from her audience that we find we’re swept along with her – by her – before we know it.

 

 

 

 

This is pure and simple magic; the command of the craft and the compelling connection between artist and audience only ever created by the most accomplished and confident performers.

 

And in case we are in any doubt at all about the artist’s phenomenal talent or broad appeal, before the night is over, Price doles out some wicked send-ups of notable singers, including the Spice Girls, Celine Dion, Taylor Swift and Amy Winehouse. In another new addition, her soaring rendition of Skyfall is sublime. We see, once again, that in any guise Price first serves the lyric, and lives out every moment of her heartfelt story through song.

 

Rumour-Has-It-6.-Pictured-Naomi-Price-copy

There’s no doubt that Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele is ready for a global audience. There’s even a twelve-month window while Adele is in “lock-down mode” and The Little Red Company would do well to fill the gap.

 

Nathanael Cooper said it too: this show is a star vehicle and Naomi Price is about to skyrocket.

 

“I think the show as it stands now is a combination of the ridiculous, outlandish humour and moments of absolute poignant truth.”

Naomi Price, in an interview with Paul Andrew

07
Nov
12

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

 

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele

Brisbane Cabaret Festival

Stockholm Syndrome 

2nd & 3rd November 2012

  

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

The Adele Effect

                                                                                                                    

“I just wanna make music…” Adele

 

Naomi Price Adele

Look, I didn’t disclose it before but Naomi Price is a friend of mine. And I don’t mind telling you, without any bias at all, that she is one of a kind. The girl is gorgeous, creative, clever and funny; she possesses an incredible voice and a versatility that means we’ll see her forever, Meryl Streep or Madonna style, and she is humble and hard working. Also, she’s met Cate Blanchett and frequently wears fabulous shoes that I covet, so it goes without saying really, that I’m a big fan.

 

Naomi’s new show, Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele is exactly that. It’s sixty superb minutes of alternative pop star, Adele, from the inside out, guts and gags and all.

 

Respectfully donning a fat suit rather than a couple of pairs of Spanx, with trademark red hair on fire – this time it’s flaming, cascading locks by Dextress Hair Face Body – Naomi Price steps out of herself to become Adele before our very eyes…and ears. The voice is pure – no gravelly after-effect of smoker’s vocal damage here – and at the same time, it’s near enough to have us captivated and completely convinced. At times we hear a little vocal fry and the recognisable catches, cries, snags and sobs, as well as THAT LAUGH… but this is not just Adele. This is Naomi Price channelling Adele and it’s much more interesting.

 

Rumour Has It is the upbeat opening number, immediately engaging the full house (everyone is still sober so everyone can get the claps in!), and introducing us to the prowess of musicians, Michael Manikus and Jason McGregor, and the charms and extraordinary vocal versatility of Luke Kennedy, who sings backup, having received charts for the songs only a week before the gig. These guys make a tight outfit and they work seamlessly together to take Adele through her many hits. The next is Rolling in the Deep and it is during this number that we realise we weren’t mistaken; we’ve seen the mannerisms of Adele, her every gesture. And then we hear the speaking voice; it’s the Tottenham accent that baffled America when Adele spoke at the Grammys. The mimicry continues through razor sharp patter, which is co-written by Adam Brunes; it draws from the crowd delighted hoots, whoops and more laughter than I’ve heard from a single audience in a long time. With the additional brilliance of Brunes, known particularly for his marketing savvy at La Boite Theatre Company, the references to Adele’s upbringing, boyfriends and brand new baby boy are backed up by loads of research and the gags are genuinely funny. This is a show that would barely need recontextualising in order to achieve global success.

 

Naomi Price Adele

Outside of the patter, the songs are not so smile inducing. Well, c’mon, the woman’s written a heap of lyrics about “rubbish relationships” (actually, she says everybody assumes she’s miserable so she’s going to stop singing about failed relationships), and Naomi perfectly captures the heartbreak. Not during Someone Like You, as one might expect, as this is ingeniously re-appropriated late in the show into a tongue in cheek medley, comprised of My Heart Will Go On, Love on Top and Rehab (these are performed over three vamps and patter segments, showcasing Naomi’s potential to tour next, among other personalities, a Celine Dion cabaret cum tribute show), but during Turning Tables and Don’t You Remember. Now that’s a whole lotta’ heartbreak and heavy heartache right there. PURE PAIN. And Naomi nails it; we feel every pinch and scratch and below the belt punch in the guts. Again, the body language and gesture help us to take the journey; with head thrown back and hands out as if to steady herself, we are mesmerised by her Adele. Instead of destroying us completely by continuing down the same sad path, however, Naomi just as suddenly gives us her best Spice Girls impersonation in a Chasing Pavements mash-up. You have to see this number to believe it!

 

During interval the intimate space upstairs at Stockholm Syndrome becomes a hive of activity, as friends and industry types mingle and collectively rave; a sure sign that the Brisbane arts scene is alive and well, and that its community is flourishing and enjoying supporting one another more than ever. Also, that this show is a sure thing. It’s pleasing to note that nobody is faking the rave.

 

We come back from interval to more champagne and more surprises. Luke Kennedy gives us his rendition of Gotye’s Somebody That I Used to Know. Honestly, Kennedy is the whitest black chick since Christina Aguilera and I’d like to see him do his own show next!

 

Following the aforementioned medley, featuring the hilarious Celine Dion impersonation, the perfectly poignant finish is Make You Feel My Love. Naomi induces smiles through tears and leaves everybody wanting more. I’m sure Naomi Price has what other performers wish they could get in a bottle, and what discerning audience members wish was more prevalent on our television screens. She’s a polished performer, bringing a whole lotta’ sass and her own style to the scene.

 

And it’s a tough scene. Cabaret is hard to pull off, y’all! To get the right blend of fun, self-deprecating humour, pathos and pure talent together to convincingly portray (and poke a little fun at) a woman like Adele is testament to The Little Red Company’s ability to break into the country’s cabaret scene with relative ease.

 

Rumour Has It: Sixty Minutes Inside Adele is set to propel Naomi Price on the meteoric rise to fame we’ve all been expecting, if only she can get it seen outside of Australia. With the contacts she and Brunes have between them, I daresay that day (or lively night) is not far away. Meanwhile, for those of you in Sydney and Melbourne, your chance to spend sixty minutes inside Adele is next!

 

Rumour Has It Slide