Posts Tagged ‘JWCCA


A Night at the Judy: Undies & Courtney Act at Brisbane Cabaret Festival

Brisbane Cabaret Festival

A Night at the Judy: Brisbane Cabaret Festival

The Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

25th October – 11th November 2012


Reviewed by Meredith McLean


This was not an average night at the Judy. Everyone was here for one thing and for one thing only; the Brisbane Cabaret Festival. Starting on the 25th of October, there is still a chance for you to experience this great celebration of wit, charm and music that is cabaret. Bringing together a cornucopia of spectacular creations from Brisbanites and fellow Aussies in theatre. I was lucky enough to indulge in two wonderfully funny and contrasting performances on Saturday night.


Arriving while the night was still young, the valley was already buzzing with promise of a good time. On my way to the Judy I had already passed a man in a bear suit, two women dressed as some kind of sci-fi woodland spirit mash-up and either the second coming of the Holy Saviour, but more likely it was just a man dressed as Jesus. Nothing could faze me once I finally stepped into the foyer of the Judith Wright Centre. I was ready for madness.


And that’s exactly what I got.


Megan Shorey

Megan Shorey beaming with those manic, expressive eyes of hers has stunned us many times over with her past award winning works. So I had high hopes for her show Undies. Sometimes I wonder what deal she made with the devil to acquire a voice like that. It’s as if it has a persona all of it’s own. Really, there should be a spot on the flyer for it. “Undies by Megan Shorey starring Megan Shorey’s Voice!”


Note to self: Get in touch with the marketing team and suggest this to them for any of her future shows.


Undies starts off with the a touch of history. Bloomers, britches, pantaloons, pantihose, undergarments, you name it. The obvious starting point for a show of such matters. But then we divulge deeper into aspects I never thought of. It’s the kind of discussion between performer and audience when the moment Shorey preaches her thoughts you realise you knew this all along, just never consciously acknowledged it. There are some serious numbers too, though my favourite of her songs laments how you’ll never get spanked in Spanx. But you’ll learn all about that if you see the show.


Even the moments between the melodies embrace the hilarity of this production. Megan Shorey is someone who is naturally funny. In her face, her voice, she knows what to say and how to say it. But it’s as if she doesn’t even try. It’s as if we the audience are her diary and her thoughts that she shares with us are just coincidentally hilarious. Unfortunately, the show has to end but this does not mean there isn’t an encore. It is undoubtedly a show worth seeing. (Like all of Shorey’s work, this show is too good for one-season-only so you’re sure to see it pop up again. Keep an eye out for future show dates at a venue near you).


There was a brief lull before I had to head back into the fray. The lights, once more bright, guiding me to my seat and then simmering down to darkness for the next show to begin. It was the same stage, but somehow I was on a new planet.


Alien of Extraordinary Ability is a drinks in hand kind of adventure listening to Courtney Act tell us about her intergalactic travels to America and back. Courtney Act made her break back in 2003 on Australian Idol. From there she has climbed ARIA charts, rocked around the globe and even performed for Lady GaGa at her private party.


Courtney Act

This show is classic cabaret with contemporary twist. Beguiling us with anecdotes of Oprah, the highlife of West Hollywood and the dangerous fun of “Disgraceland” Even Dr. Phil crops up in this galactic conquest of hers.


Unfortunately the rhythm I’d felt with Megan Shorey was not the same with this second performance. Courtney Act did confess to us she had “a frog in my throat. He was a prince this morning…” but this does not excuse the occasional off-key tones I heard. The worst was during her rendition of Suddenly Seymour from one of my favourite musicals, Little Shop of Horrors, when she and the pianist (whom had a stunning and beautiful voice providing spectacular back vocals mind you) tried to harmonise the final verse. Somewhere in the beautiful mess of all that glitter, stage light and pulsing music, their voices just could not find each other. Instead, producing an awkward, stilting closing to the song. Otherwise the set list was perfect. Witty, funny, and Courtney looked fabulous dancing in her silvery extraterrestrial get-up.


Some of the jokes in Alien of Extraordinary Ability came off a little too blunt and forced. Courtney’s ad-lib at times threw me too. There was a moment when a couple of latecomers apologetically scurried to their seats and she asked, “Welcome to the show. Can I get you anything? A watch perhaps?” It just had a tone a touch too snippy.


Despite these brief but jilting moments the show was everything to be expected. Bright and buzzing, funny and raunchy, and thoroughly sequined. The show was a great cap to the night leaving everyone giddy and laughing.


You do not want to miss out on this celebration of feathers, jazz, sparkling costumes, loud voices and swanky piano players. Undies with Megan Shorey and Alien of Extraordinary Ability featuring Courtney Act, are not much more than a snippet of Brisbane’s Cabaret Festival.


The close is nearing – the  11th of November to be exact  – so make sure you get tickets soon.








Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

Friday 5th October


Reviewed by Andy Clark


Geppetto Into the Woods

I was anxious about the launch of Geppetto’s EP at The Judy, as it fell at the end of a week where my favourite band had released their 6th album on Monday and I had the absolute pleasure of watching the greatest guitarist on earth perform in Brisbane on Wednesday.


But I had nothing to fear. Emma Dean and  Jake Deifenbach have been performing together for over 6 years. Their voices and musical styles are absolutely complimentary and blend together like the perfect doubles partnership at Wimbledon. Seated across the stage from each other, with Dan Hirsch drumming occasionally, like an experienced musical umpire, Emma & Jake fire shots at each other from their keyboards and lungs. Each shot is returned with precision and accuracy and the audience are the winners, lapping up each exchange as if it were Laver v Court on Centre Court.


Within Geppetto’s set there were plenty of songs that could match MUSE’s Olympic anthem for awesomeness and creativity, whilst Emma and Jake continued to swap positions from their grand piano and keyboard as each rally ended.


Despite no guitar in sight, Geppetto created an atmosphere which was as out of this world, as Joe Bonamassa’s guitars had created at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre two nights earlier.


The opening song and title track of the Into The Woods EP has intricate piano parts and Emma’s voice made me think of Kate Bush’s vocal genius. Emma is one of very few artists I have heard live who gets anywhere near the Goddess Ms Bush. The opening act Silver Sircus seemed to like performing songs by their Music GODs. Although their interpretation of Life on Mars was ok, their cover of Nick Cave’s Little Water Song lacked the depth and imagination of the version of this song on Triple J’s Like a Version 2 from 2006 on which Emma Dean played violin. If anyone is to attempt to cover Kate Bush I think they need to have an upper range to allow this. Emma could do this, but unfortunately Silver Sircus double faulted with their version of Kick Inside. I’ve been searching for over 30 years for a voice who can cover Kate Bush and I think Emma is in a very small group who can do this. Others include recent ARIA Winners, Florence & this year’s ARIA nominee glaring omission.


Geppetto performed some covers superbly.  Jake delivered a heartfelt version of Secret Love whilst the acapella version of Anthony and The Johnsons’ For Today I am a Boy as the first encore left the audience breathless.


Part way through the set Emma discussed how she is sometimes perplexed by why she continues to do what she does, whilst all around her many friends are getting married, buying houses and having babies. Two Geppetto song titles maybe reflect what Emma’s friends might encounter in that it is All Fun and Games to start with, but too often in 2012 it ends up being This is Where the Trouble Starts.


I hope Geppetto continue performing for years to come and Pinocchio can wait to be created.






The Wau Wau Sisters’ Last Supper

Brisbane Festival

The Wau Wau Sisters

The Wau Wau Sisters’ Last Supper 

Brisbane Festival and Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

25th – 29th September 2012

Reviewed by Michelle Bull

‘F**k yeah!’ The Wau Wau Sisters have arrived and the night just got naughtier.

Hosted by the Brisbane Festival, New York’s Wau Wau Sisters (Adrienne Truscott and Tanya Gagne) badly behaved circus/burlesque/comedy extravaganza, The Last Supper, opened to an energetic audience at the Judith Wright Centre on Tuesday night.

Deliciously provocative, smart-mouthed and blasphemous, The Last Supper is bound to offend those who patrol the higher moral ground, but if you like theatre that doesn’t take itself too seriously, has the balls to ‘go there’, wave it in your face and shout out a few superlatives, you’re seriously going to love The Wau Wau Sisters The Last Supper.

Now any show that requires a full body frisk and bag search upon entry has definitely got my attention. Props to the Brisbane Festival/Judith Wright Centre and their bright-eyed-bobble-headed ‘Air Hostesses’ for making this friendly pat-down a theatrical experience; we all thought it was all part of the show!

I’m pleased Brisbane is being challenged by productions that evoke such a strong response be that positive or negative, even if that does mean the odd frisk or two to manage potential risk. I would say however, if you are offended by jibes at Christianity, extremely salty language and a bit of skin then perhaps the Wau Wau Sisters are not for you. Although for those who don’t mind a little trip into the back alleys of morality, brace yourselves; you’re in for a ride.

After a lengthy start in which mustached ushers/hostesses offered stacks of communion wafers, which were rumoured to be laced with a little something extra, there was a kafuffle down below and the unconquerable Wau Wau Sisters were spread-eagled before us…Wau! Where’s that wine?

The Wau Wau Sisters

Opening with a routine that tumbled through naughty catholic schoolgirl flirtations to a mock crucifixion and some pretty nifty balance tricks it was clear from the outset that this was a show that would make the writer of Fifty Shades blush and run for a cold shower. With ferocious enthusiasm and intent the Sisters continued their transformation into country singin’, tart-mouthed beauties from the South, and began their race through the gamut of spirituality, from Christian ceremony to trance-like hippy rituals with a good dose of smut thrown in for good measure.

Like any good fun loving romp, audience participation was used to great effect, and involved the entire crowd so be prepared to embrace your inner silly-sausage, Brisbane! The dress up sequence was a riot (frilly knickers and all), and the trance-like hippy love-in, while a little drawn out at times, tripped between Peace, Love and Woodstock and the hilariously lewd and ridiculous (I shall never look at a banana the same way again).

For the country music fans the Wau Wau Sisters offer up a cheeky song or two, playing their bright red ‘ponies’ as only they could. The highlights were a song played and sung whilst one sister balanced strategically on the others feet and…er…wandering toes, and the facetiously funny Jesus is Coming which drew a strong response from the audience and no doubt pushed those sitting on the fence one way or another.

However for all the silliness and mayhem, these dynamic and skilled performers managed the organised chaos to a tee. Their sharp-witted and playful taunts at the audience took no prisoners, and smashed the fourth wall down with bare breasts blazing. (A word of warning here, you may end up close and personal with some tits and ass but as one punter pointed out, much to the amusement of his companions, ‘Relax, it’s only a boob’).

Its this sense of abandon that remained a highlight of the show and the fearlessness in which they ran with making a complete mockery of Christ and Christianity; not to everyone’s taste but ballsy, shocking and dare I say funny none the less!

The fabulous physical skills of the duo featured throughout the show were also a highlight. The aerial duet was a complete spectacle and was executed with the same ferocious energy that propelled the show right through to its climactic end; a complete striptease in front of a motley Last Supper scene that saw the sisters embracing nude under a cascade of red wine while bare-chested hippies and cross-dressing cowgirls blew party whistles in complete ridicule of the familiar Christian picture.

Aside from its controversial content, which personally I found a strength of the show, my only reservation about The Wau Wau Sisters The Last Supper was that it seemed slightly one dimensional; the constant sexual insinuations and profanities losing their impact after a while suggesting (given the comic skill of the performers) a gag with a little more depth would have balanced the blatant dirty joke and energised the pace so that as an audience we didn’t become desensitised. That being said, the show remained entertaining and lulls in pace were quickly overcome.

The Wau Wau Sisters’ Last Supper is not for the faint hearted, twisty-knickered or easily offended, but for those among you who like a bit of scandal, the Wau Wau Sisters are guaranteed to tantalise, titillate and tease, slapping you on the behind with a big cheeky wink and shouting “F**k Yeah! Lets have some fun!”

If you’re lucky enough to score some tickets, do it, you know you wanna…


Virginia Gay: Dirty Pretty Songs

Dirty Pretty Songs

Virginia Gay

Judith Wright Centre

20th June

Reviewed by Andy Clark

From All Saints to All Dirty

Before I go to any Show or Festival I usually familiarise myself absolutely in what I am about to see. However, just watching one video online told me that seeing Virginia Gay sing Dirty Pretty Songs was going to be spectacular.  I was not wrong. I had never seen All Saints or Winners and Losers and had only previously seen VG on Adam Hills’ Gordon St.

I left the Judith Wright Centre with a smile from ear to ear that had been on my face from the moment VG entered the auditorium and teased the audience at the tables with a pantomime-esque “She’s behind you!”, to her Popergasmic Encore tribute to one of her idols.

Once VG got to the stage singing Let’s Do It on the … and making loving movements toward the grand piano and one of her accompanying threesome and anything else she could prod her chest or buttocks at, she talked about how it is a challenge growing up with the name Virginia Gay, but that she gained solace that at least she was not named Vagina Faggot.

She then went into a song about being Freaky and how we all have a bit of something freaky in us. I related to this sentiment rather too easily. VG can turn a classic song into a sexy, sultry piece like she did with Mondo Rock’s COME said the Boy.

Compare these 2 versions of this song:

The song that got me smiling BIG was VG’s version of Guy Sebastian’s Like It Like That. Instead of singing this song, just try saying the lyrics slowly & they become really DIRTY. Virginia did this superbly.

I knew VG was going to do a rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, but I didn’t recognise it ’til about the 29th “Hello” of her sexy sultry voice. Walking away from her mic, VG stood in front of the grand piano and started to sing with just a quiet, gentle piano accompanying her. It built and drifted and again I didn’t recognise it early; it was Radiohead’s High and Dry, which again, I knew was coming; this version was enchantingly different & DIRTY.

This show was like The Kransky Sisters mixed with Ross Noble and Elaine Paige.

VG’s encore was Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. My beaming grin grew as she started it as if it were in an opera and then, when I thought it could get no better, Virginia moved into steamy jazz mode and completed an unforgettable evening with her best song of the night.


A Message from Queenie van de Zandt

If you’re in Sydney for Mother’s Day you may like to get to THIS!

Be quick, it’s almost SOLD OUT!

And a message for Brissie friends before next Friday’s show at the Judith Wright Centre.

Are you on Queenie’s cyber mailing list? You’d better be!


Hi Brissie Gang…

Ok – below is the poster with all the low-down on the go-down on Friday. A guy called “Prince” is doing his show on the same night…but he’s only a prince – and I’m a fucking Queen…

On that – because you are on my ‘cyber-mailing list’ you get cheepo tix to my gig…(bet Prince whatever his name is doesn’t do that…). 

So if you mention the word “Prince” when booking your tix – you can get tix at the concession rate instead of paying full price.

I hope to see lots and lots of you there!

Q: What do a woman masturbating in the audience while you’re singing on stage AND getting verbal diarrhoea when meeting Olivia Newton John have in common?


Ever since she pulled on her ABBA socks at age eight, Queenie van de Zandt knew she was destined to become a performer (or hairdresser). Her mind, and face, made up, she plunged into the shady world of eisteddfods, speech and drama exams and school musicals. At 18, Queenie finally got her “big break” at a cabaret venue in the theatrical epicentre of… Queanbeyan.

Thus began 21 years of bizarre theatrical experiences ranging from performing on the stages of Asia with some of the great actors of our time, to accidentally pooping herself in a performance of HAIR. Yes ladies and gentlemen, this right regal star of the stage has seen and done it all.

Don’t miss a night of hilarious anecdotes, insightful observations and beautiful songs from one of Australia’s best-loved cabaret and musical theatre stars!




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?


Apocastrip WOW!

Apocastrip Wow!

Judith Wright Centre

Saturday 3rd March

Reviewed by Mel White

I have a confession to make.

I sent this review to Xanthe a little late.  Actually, it was very late but at no point was this intentional.  If I can be perfectly honest with you here, it was because of this:  I just didn’t know where to start.

This is by no means due to a lack of experience in writing reviews; as a Secondary Drama teacher, I see my fair share of shows and I have drafted, marked and even written too many reviews than I care to think about.  No, I didn’t have the faintest idea where to start because – and here’s some brutal honesty – it took me a long time to decide how I felt about this show overall.  And since I’m laying down all the cards here, I’ll go one further and say this:  I STILL don’t know how I feel about this show in an overall context. Of course, I have feelings towards every item that forms this unique showcase, and I intend to share them here, but to form an overall opinion?  Well, I’m yet to partake in that delight.  So with that in mind, allow me to share my conflicting opinions…

Writer/Performers Mat Fraser (aka The Freak) and Julie Atlas Muz (aka The Showgirl) have created a performance that is, by their own admission, “the best send-off show for the end of the world”.  Operating under the premise that the apocalypse is coming in 2012, Apocostrip Wow attempts to validate its existence by suggesting that we should “go crazy and do anything we want”, since we are in our last year of the world as we know it.  Indeed, Fraser and Muz lead by example in what can only be described as a roughly hewn showcase of poor taste.

The show begins with a flurry of fast paced (and, subsequently, incomprehensible) voiceovers, roaming spotlights and a dancing entry from Fraser and Muz, which more resembled a pair of drunks walking home after a big night at the pub.  Much to my chagrin, this kind of talentless choreography would appear frequently throughout the show, serving as a linking device between acts; a very underwhelming linking device at that.

From this point, for a good proportion of the show, the 2 performers mostly alternate in appearance:  he to intrigue the audience with his considerable skills that hinge on his disability, she to perform her stunning strips.  Being a thalidomide baby, Fraser, who performs under the stage name “Sealboy”, is affected with phocomelia, leaving him with arms that resemble seal limbs.  Whilst it is certainly fascinating to witness the many skills Fraser has acquired over the years (the way in which he shaves his face was a highlight), it is his singing that truly deserves applause.  Throughout the show, Fraser is continually upfront about his disability, frequently resorting to humour and fact recitation in order to alleviate potential awkwardness about his physical appearance.  Whilst this is initially intriguing, it also gets old very fast and this leads to, in my opinion, the show’s undoing.

Towards the end though, the sprouting of factual evidence gives way to audience interaction and this always forces you to take notice as, if you’re like me, you’re hoping like hell they don’t pick you.  As it turns out, I’m rather thankful that I wasn’t plucked from the raucous audience, as audience involvement has never been more lunatic than what ensued.  Six audience members are firstly asked to bare their rear ends and two are then chosen as the best “asses”.  These two audience members then engage in a beer drinking game set around the need to have virtual beer sex in a hostage situation.

After the audience interaction madness dies down, Muz commences a nude interpretative dance, complete with child-like slip ‘n’ slides across the stage whilst Fraser sings ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’.  It was at this point that I began to accept the madness for what it was and I found myself simply taking joy in the stupidity.

Getting naked for naked’s sake doesn’t really appeal to me and this is what I found Apocostrip Wow to be:  just an excuse to get naked with no real reason behind it.  I’m certainly not a prude – I did enjoy some moments within this chaotic display of “talent” – but overall, I still feel mixed emotions about the impending doom that is Apocostrip Wow.