Posts Tagged ‘andy clark


The Race for the Chinese Zodiac

Out of the Box

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac

QPAC Concert Hall

Melbourne Recital Centre Production

12th -15th June 2012

Reviewed by Meredith McLean

Many of us are familiar with the Chinese fable of the twelve zodiac animals. We all have some inkling of how they each came to be part of the twelve, some through trickery, others by kindness or perhaps even strength. Gabrielle Wang’s storybook adaption of the old tale lights up wonderfully on screen, accompanied by the Australian Chinese Music Ensemble and Andy Clark’s frolics and narration.

As part of the Out of the Box festival happening this week at QPAC educating children and making them laugh seems to be the main objective here. The Race for the Chinese Zodiac is one show that certainly creates such an atmosphere. Through some amazing story telling by Andy Clark and Dr. Wang Zheng Ting’s musical compositions many endearing lessons are learnt.

Before Andy Clark took the stage I saw rows upon rows of school children fidgeting and bouncing in their seats. Stressed school teachers hastened for them to sit still and be quiet. I still can’t fathom where they have the energy to be honest. But then Andy Clark’s great voice and ridiculously red shirt caught everyone’s attention. Almost like a ringmaster he brought the animals to life through his voice. When he jumped like a monkey or growled like a dragon the kids were left in hysterics.

No matter what age you may be the story lures you in too quickly to realize. While the animals of the tale could be seen on screen Clark tells us the tale. But the show is not over when the book closes. On the contrary, Clark then instructs everyone to stand up. It’s time to learn what animal you are and how you should move. A couple of little girls in little, green uniforms curiously asked, “You’re a big kid, why are you here?” I couldn’t resist the adorableness. For lack of a better answer I told them I had to find out what my zodiac animal was. Turns out I was “A big smelly monkey”. The kids found this to be absolutely hilarious while Andy Clark insisted everyone dance like a monkey.

It’s not all silliness though. If anything there’s a bit of educational tidbits to be shared. The instruments are explained and everyone attempts to sound out the proper names. Hardly anyone can pronounce them and the kids find the gibberish sounding words to be very amusing.

The music not only intensifies the atmosphere of this classic fable but gives the adults something to appreciate too. The Australian Chinese Music Ensemble dressed in their beautiful robes and smiling under the great lights have my deepest respect. They are the ones brave enough to keep these ancient instruments alive. Though the complexity of the melodies might go over the kids’ heads it’s truly wonderful to listen to.

What I loved about this production is that it had the right balance. On the one hand there is culture absolutely rippling throughout the entire show. That rich kind of history you won’t find very often. However on the other side of the coin this in one of those shows where you can’t help but let your inner kid out while your children laugh along with you. It’s okay to laugh at the silly pig, or hiss like a snake and even dance like a monkey. Your kids will be glad for it because they will no doubt be laughing too.

Illustration by Sally Rippen


An End To Dreaming

An End To Dreaming

Emma Dean & Jake Diefenbach

Judith Wright Centre

Friday 27th April

Reviewed by Andy Clark

My Favourite Sin(ger)s

Some singers are made to sing together – Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach are definitely one of these perfect pairings.

I first saw Emma and Jake perform the lead song of their An End to Dreaming show before The Dresden Dolls played The Arena on Valley Fiesta Friday in 2006. That performance was emphasised by the specifically placed members of Zen Zen Zo in the audience, who performed above us, after we were all asked to sit on the floor. The song was a like a multicoloured chrysalis that was beautiful in it’s own way, but is primed for greater things in the future. It was showcased again as their Grand Finale number in 2009 when Emma and Jake did their Downside Up show at The Judith Wright Centre.

Friday night’s performance started with two very young and talented Brisbane singers who may one day be as accomplished as E&J. Pixie and the Halloran intersperse their beautiful songs with simultaneous talking that has been rehearsed to a tee. Dressed like they have just pranced in from the bottom of the garden, these Fairy-like singers bounce off each other’s voices with a lovely balance and only occasionally does the blend of their voices not create a dreamy sense of magic in the heads of the audience. James Halloran’s booming mellow voice dominated their show for me, which is hardly surprising as Indigo (Pixie) is unbelievably, only 16 years old; she is totally enchanting and will be a star before she’s 20.

However, they are but an appetiser for THE Show that is about to be unleashed on the lucky throng. Emma and Jake appear in the middle of The Judy between the tiered seats and the circular tables as if by magic. Cloaked in what look like black capes, they weave their way toward the stage, where their cloaks are seen to be blood red. Their show goes through stages of development from The Darkness with Emma’s song Black to The Light, via The Awakening, The Reckoning and The Healing, with a special moment when they perform the superb Stuck in the Mud.

Jake’s keyboard acrobatics are a sight to behold and he compliments Emma’s piano, violin & melodium. Their voices are very similar and merge and mix with each other so perfectly I hope they perform together forever.

The show climaxes with the 2012 version of An End to Dreaming, which meanders it’s way from deep and dark to spectacular and dramatic and it is a delight to see how this song has evolved into a multilayered, multicoloured butterfly.

Then just when you think it’s all over, they return for an awesome rendition of My Favourite Sins, to cap off an exceptional evening. Next stop for this spectacular show is the New York International Fringe Festival. Maybe the next stop after that should be not Briz Vegas, but Las Vegas?


Ghostboy with Golden Virtues & Emma Dean


My new mate, Andy Clark (we met at the Visy Theatre one night), is a ROCKSTAR. He sees SO much! If you’ve been to a gig in Brisvegas recently, chances are you’ve seen him there. So he – and I – thought he might as well be writing about his adventures. On Friday night, he was part of the sizzling one night stand at the Judith Wright Centre before GBGV left town to headline sets at the Adelaide Fringe’s famous Spiegeltent.

Ghostboy with Golden Virtues & Emma Dean

Judith Wright Centre

Friday March 2nd

Reviewed by Andy Clark



This Sold Out show by Ghostboy with Golden Virtues presents an extraordinary, full throttle, (sometimes confronting to the closed minded youngsters) yet exhilarating, entertainment extravaganza.  I cannot recall seeing anything similar since the  late 70s when I saw The Tubes on their ‘Mondo Bondage’ Tour and The Stranglers on their ‘Nic n Sleazy’ Tour. Wikipedia includes a comment in reference to The Stranglers that would aptly describe GBGV: “the band received a mixed reception from some critics because of their apparent sexist and racist innuendo”.

But tonight’s audience has been warned in the advertising of what to expect…

WARNING: Contains adult themes and psycho-sexual content
Recommended Age: 15+




The show begins in the bar area where The Gremlins interact with the audience through their own language of squeaks & grunts. I am encouraged to blow kisses to 2 complete strangers & then we escape into the theatre to continue this expedition.

The evening begins with 3 songstresses from All Hallows School by the name of Avaberee. They enchant & delight the audience with their beautiful acapella songs, accompanied by a single acoustic guitar. Some beautiful original songs entwined with covers of Justin Timberlake & Dizzee Rascal. I would pay double to see these girls compared to the Supergroup SLK.



I’ve seen Emma Dean perform about 30 times. Tonight’s show is as diverse and intriguing as any that I’ve seen before.  The inter-song explanations are both entertaining and personal. From the staccato of the opening 2008 song ‘Cocaine’ to the Grand Piano new song ‘Love Me’, via a theatrical rendition of Roxette’s “Fading like a Flower” with a dash of Lady Gaga, this was another memorable performance, right up to the concluding number, in which she offers “her Heart & her Bones & her Blood’ to her friends in her Last Will and Testament. Emma is not fading like a flower, but is blossoming more & more.

The Golden Virtues stroll onto the stage & Ghostboy appears in front of the stage and the Grand Piano and he begins the show with a beautifully illogical poem about “my ‘Mouth’ is not my mouth” and his ‘elbow is not his elbow’, whilst pointing to & flexing his knee.

He then proceeds to swap drinks around on the tables in the cabaret seating section of the theatre and he sets the scene for an irreverent interactive event.

Meanwhile The Golden Virtues wait patiently & motionless on stage. Skye is knelt with her inked back to the audience and with Avaberee hovering in the background after their transition from schoolgirls to ‘ladies’ worthy of a Robert Palmer video.

Then, as if from another planet, The Golden Virtues explode into life with ‘Rock N Roll Girlfriend’ from their 2010 Album ‘Enter’. Co singer songwriter Skye Staniford is (un) dressed in a white Basque & black stockings, whilst Ghostboy is in his customary black suit, plus a grey tatty tutu and a bright blue wig.

‘Hope’ and ‘Wolfish’ show the contrast between the vocal styles of Ghostboy’s brash dirty delivery & Skye’s angelic folksy melodies.

The Gremlins are invited onstage to perform a poem of their own, in their own language, which is quirky, quaint & quite intergalactic in this ever-changing audio visual extravaganza.

Ghostboy then gets (sometimes drags) female members of the audience to dance with other female punters and The Gremlins help their hands find the buttocks of complete strangers, which is mainly met with laughter and cooperation. However, soon after this alien interference with the audience, one front-row table of tattooed young ladies empties, as they voluntarily evacuate the auditorium.

A male volunteer is now required and Ghostboy sits him on a chair in front of the piano with an adult nappy on his head and proceeds to sing a rambunctious rendition of GAY BAR, whilst gyrating all over said volunteer. As the song concludes the willing participant waves his hands at his sides like he’s just finishing a Broadway show. Maybe celebratory hands or maybe a jibe at the AWOL girls.

As “What’s for Dinner” starts, The Gremlins set up a table in front of the stage to dine on potatoes, whilst frantically collecting the lights from all the tables. Again the performance contrast between the 2 singers is dramatic and magnificent.

Ghostboy has acquired a bottle of wine from a table and is sloppily drinking it with gay abandon. When the owners of the wine request their bottle back Ghostboy realises he can no longer drink, as he is now wearing a cricket helmet and so he just pours the remaining wine into his mouth through the grill of the helmet, to the delight of the audience.



Many of the audience stand in admiration of this performance for all of the last song and when it concludes there is loud chanting, stamping and screaming, but this brings no one back onstage until a  Gremlin strolls on to inform us, “This is when you all fuck off,” but we do not want to believe him.

Then Ghostboy appears again with a mop and starts to mop the stage and when he realises we are still there he also tells us, “It’s time for you to all fuck off home,” and we do, as our new Master tells us, with smiles from ear to ear and having all had a truly amazing experience.

I was ready for something between a Nick Cave gig & The Rocky Horror Show. What I saw, no; what I  experienced,  was way, way better than that. With the delightful Avaberee & the ever changing Emma Dean as well, this is a night I may remember longer than The Tubes’ performance I saw in Bristol in 1978.