Posts Tagged ‘Kris Stewart



01
Mar
15

I Might Take My Shirt Off

 

I Might Take My Shirt Off

Brisbane Powerhouse & Sharpened Axe

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Platform

February 13 – 14 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

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Dash Kruck is an absolute starry star. A dead set legend. A really funny, talented guy.

 

His debut cabaret show, I Might Take My Shirt Off, is by far the best we’ve seen for a loooong time on the scene, which you might be forgiven for feeling, is a little flooded at the moment. Let’s face it. CABARET IS STILL THE NEW BLACK. We see so much of it, and so much of it is raved about that when a particularly well written, tightly structured and superbly delivered show hits our stages it’s noted. Not only duly noted, but already returning to Brisbane Powerhouse later this year it seems, if the Facebook comments are anything to go by…

 

 

“I wanna bring your show back, yo.”

Kris Stewart

 

 

TRANSPARENCY. SO IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW #teamgooding #illridewithneil

 

Directed by Emily Gilhome, I Might Take My Shirt Off, shares Lionel’s struggles in love and life, as he pens and performs an original cabaret show at the advice of his hilariously OTT German Nazi-therapist. FACE THE FEAR. Everyone knows cabaret is terrifying, and this is a thrilling show because THERE IS REAL FEAR THERE. Or so it seems. Dash is so convincing in the role that there are times throughout the evening when we actually hold our collective breath and think, “God I hope he’ll get it!”

 

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Stories of sex, booze, boys and mythical beasts abound. Original songs by Dash and Chris Perren are diverse in style and consistent in quality. There’s not a dull number among them, each has its place and purpose. THERE’S EVEN A HIT SINGLE BALLADY TYPE NUMBER. YES, BALLADY IS A WORD. (I expect to see this soundtrack available for purchase on iTunes next year. Yes, I do). Dash is well respected as an actor and singer (we loved him in A Tribute of Sorts, Spamalot, Spring Awakening, Jesus Christ Superstar, [Title of Show] and the Matilda Awards named him Best Emerging Artist in 2007 and Best Actor in 2012). This show is the perfect vehicle to take him to the next level, put him on the circuit, and get him into the elusive, illustrious INNER CIRCLE OF CABARET.

 

I think I said this about his performance in [Title of Show] –

“On stage, Dash Kruck totes stole the show for me, with his endearingly cheeky, naughty approach to, well, everything in life. His Broadway moves and his ability to connect with those on stage and off. I’m confident I can recommend you go see anything at all that Dash appears in. This includes his kitchen when he is washing the dishes and IGA when he is doing the grocery shopping. Dash is bound to make any event just as entertaining.”

 

NO PRESSURE, DASH.

 

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As tender and wonder filled as it is funny, and as skillfully built as any headline act that might come to us with far more fanfare, I Might Take My Shirt Off is a real contender for the bigger festivals, and could do with a return tour after a stint somewhere like, oh I don’t know, OFF-BROADWAY. If you experienced it you know that’s not too far-fetched. It’s so meta too, that theatre and cabaret students (and their teachers) should be in the back row taking notes at every performance. As Lionel ticks off all the elements of the genre, using his devastating break up tale to pull us through the ringer with him, I hear a whispered comment behind me that signals hope for the masses: “So this is cabaret… It’s great! I like it!” HOORAY!

 

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My favourite parts of the show involve a martini and a dragon. Not at the same time. But I love the implicit 007ness of one and I’m swept away by the mythos of the other, not to mention impressed by Dash’s command of the vocals. I think of Anthony Warlow’s performance in The Secret Garden of Race You To the Top of the Morning (just go to the link and let it play while you read on, because there is no I Might Take My Shirt Off Live at Brisbane Powerhouse recording…yet). Like Elise McCann as Lucille Ball, Dash is confident enough to take his time and allow us to suffer vicariously through him. We believe every word…and every strategically placed awkward pause. N.B. Sitting towards the back of the crowd doesn’t mean Dash won’t see you and invite you to be…involved.

 

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Dash demonstrates complete trust in the genre and in his wide-ranging ability. A great director will help a performer to realise the possibility of success from the outset. These two – Dash Kruck and Emily Gilhome – are a good match of talent, intellect and guts. To pull off a first attempt at cabaret so convincingly, is a pretty clear indicator that Dash Kruck is here to stay. But perhaps not here here to stay. Dash can take this show anywhere, and like Rumour Has It, Wrecking Ball, and The Divine Miss Bette, I’ll happily see it again and again. There is substance here, and a magical alchemy, which turns crazy late-night gin-conceptualised ideas into theatrical GOLD. I do hope Dash enjoys performing this show as much as we enjoy seeing it, because we’re going to keep demanding it!

 

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For more outrageously funny stuff at Brisbane Powerhouse check out the Brisbane Comedy Festival! Until March 22 2015.

 

07
Dec
14

Bradley McCaw: The Complete Unauthorised Biography of Cabaret

 

The Complete Unauthorised Biography of Cabaret

Brisbane Powerhouse & An Old Fashioned Production Company

Brisbane Powerhouse Graffiti Room

December 5 – 7 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

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Bradley McCaw won Your Theatrics International Cabaret Contest in 2012 (book tickets here for the 2015 comp, the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere). Part of the prize package was to take his original show on an all expenses paid national tour and on to New York. It sold out. This year, for the first time, Brisbane Powerhouse has added Wonderland, a “night-time playground”, to this city’s cabaret calendar. McCaw’s show fits the bill in a slightly more conservative and sensible manner than most, giving us a refreshing break from all things outrageously and outlandishly “cabaret”. (Don’t worry, I also love outrageous and outlandish!). His show is a lesson in the genre and without a doubt the most fun you’ll have in the cabaret classroom, though we’re far from the traditional classroom.

 

We find ourselves in the intimate Graffiti Room with only 28 others. I know this space as a meeting room so I’ll admit I was dubious interested to see what sort of performance space it would make. Artistic Director of the Powerhouse, Kris Stewart, told me that previously the room has been claimed by Comedy Festival acts. The teeny, tiny, carpeted space works well in this context too, with a raised stage beneath a proscenium arch made from striped butchers’ paper. Note to self: Pin that in Event Inspiration.

 

McCaw greets us just as casually as if we were still standing by the bar outside (has it ever been busier?!), and introduces what will become a 50-minute 100-year history lesson, complete with his easy humour and musical interludes. I wish my Modern History lessons at high school had been as fun as this fascinating look at the European timeline. We begin in Paris, to seek an answer to the question, “What is Cabaret?” It’s a question that’s been asked many times of course, but McCaw narrows the context for us and cleverly sings a comical song of an afternoon spent shooting hoops and talking shop with a mate named Steve. McCaw realises he is unable to give Steve a straight answer and determines to find out for himself.

 

What is Cabaret?

 

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Yes, and…

 

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Le Chat Noir – the Black Cat Café – tells through its haunting ugly lights time of night melody and eloquent storytelling about the drunken proprietor of an empty venue, who opens his doors one night in 1878 to a group of artists, creating a magical space where cabaret is born. At this time it’s the sharing of stories, songs, skits, drinks… Is it still? In this quiet number lies the essence of the show, but there’s much more to come and a lot of it is surprisingly upbeat!

 

It’s in the lilting ballad tones and also, when McCaw opens up mid-range, that we hear the famous Ten Tenors quality in his voice. And when he rocks out in Hard to Keep a Good Girl Down we hear (and see) the unmistakable confidence and showmanship of a true Piano Man. Quick! Last drinks!

 

“I heard Billy Joel and a song of his ‘Just the Way You Are’ and I thought wow, that’s possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. I want to make something like that, so I started making [music].”

 

It’s a rousing, cheeky song, boyish, fast and fun. Unknown to McCaw, however, is the ambition of the microphone on a stand above the Roland, which spins of its own accord, distracting and delighting us all. Its accidental choreography is actually perfectly fitting. He stops and laughs with us, swings it back and around and around it goes in stubborn, joyous pirouettes like a barefoot child at the end of a birthday party until McCaw pushes it aside again and begins the song again. In any other genre this part of the show might be forgotten; that is to say we might try at least to forget about that awful, embarrassing moment with the mic. But in this case it’s testament to McCaw’s ability to nurture the relationship with his audience in a shared moment of unexpected comedy.

 

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Gentler, and presented with a direct challenge to the audience is All I Need Is You. McCaw reaches for a ukulele and teaches us a line of the song – it’s call and response – and in the small space, in which everyone can hear everything, it feels like a big ask! Luckily we’re seated next to Lizzie Sing It a Third Above Moore so it’s a pleasant experience and we sing along too. The opportunity comes again at the end of the show with Daydreamin’ Girl, a fun way to finish. Poppy knows how all this audience participation stuff goes and we already have McCaw’s EP; it’s a souvenir from Noosa Long Weekend Festival, which he signed for Poppy, and which we often play in the car. When I mentioned this to McCaw after the show it was hard to gauge whether or not he believed me, but it’s true. We’ve just started listening to Mama Kin again too, in case we run into Danielle & John at Woodford this year. “How can you chat to the singer, Mum, if you don’t know their songs?” So asks the wise child!

 

We travel with McCaw on an intriguing journey through tumultuous times, across borders and oceans, and all the way into 1940s American Ragtime. The show works well like this, as a chronological effort to discover a working definition for cabaret, but it means it’s a little less personal than the first version. I couldn’t help but think No Feelings Today made a deeper impact in its original 8-minute competition context and McCaw let us in on some heart thoughts about the time two brothers might spend together. Now, in representing the artists’ perspective on cabaret (“we can do whatever we want”), I feel this song loses its beautiful, soaring sadness. There’s always a place for beautiful, soaring sadness, for longing, particularly within cabaret and we can’t shy away from it for the sake of an academic argument!

 

“I think that’s what cabaret’s greatest asset is; it is always evolving. It takes whatever is around its community and it makes it seem fresh because it’s so new and so contemporary.

 

McCaw’s versatility is actually astounding as he shifts effortlessly between musical styles. I’d love to hear him sing more. Less shtick and more song!

 

I guess the answer to Steve’s question lies in each artist’s interpretation of the genre and if this show is cabaret too, let’s have more of it!

 

 

22
Nov
14

Flaunt

 

 

Flaunt

Brisbane Powerhouse & Claire Marshall Projects

In association with Metro Arts

Brisbane Powerhouse

November 18–22 2014

 

Reviewed by Ruth Ridgway

 

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We are exploring women’s gender, sexuality and power, and how it can be ‘socially inscribed’ on the body …

Claire Marshall, Director/Choreographer

 

Before the first performance of Flaunt, Powerhouse Artistic Director Kris Stewart made a short, impassioned speech about the Powerhouse’s support for independent dance artists such as Director/Choreographer Claire Marshall and her group of dancers. This support is partly funded by the drinks you buy at the Powerhouse, so drink up, everyone!

 

Flaunt opens with a woman climbing a ladder onto the roof of a metal-framed structure. She writhes and poses there. Later three others appear and two women manipulate the limbs of the others. The end of the work recapitulates these moments.

 

In between are a number of other short scenes. The women struggle to escape from behind a glass screen, on which images of sultry-looking formally dressed women are projected. They walk in the strange crossed-over way that models do, they pose and pout, and do some pole dancing moves, using the uprights of the shelter. At another point, the feel is of a nightclub, with very loud, pounding electronic sound. The soundtrack also features a robotic female voice discoursing on gender and sexuality.

 

In a creepy sequence, the dancers manipulate shop mannequins and dismember them. The cross-section of the bottom half of one mannequin is blood-red.

 

In her program notes, Marshall says the work is ‘about women and power’ – but only sexual power is on display here, and competition between women. The women appear to be trapped by their gender and sexuality, managing occasionally to break out and escape. The ladder offers a way out, but it’s narrow, and can take only one person at a time.

 

The overall impression of the design (Frances Hannaway) is of darkness, and entrapment – overlaid with allure. The costumes were mainly black and silver – dark silver leggings and black tops for the opening scene, clear plastic tops with crisscrossed strips of black, transparent white skirts that looked like organza, and dark silver tops with black bike shorts. They suited the dancers, and had a welcome elegance contrasting with the dark themes of the work.

 

The dancers (Mariana Parizo, Miranda Zeller, Amelia Stokes, Kirri Webb) were strong and athletic, demonstrating a power that their characters in this piece are denied. The strength of the movement, combined with the pouting and posturing that reproduce some of the stereotyped sexualised images of women, results in an uneasy mix of voyeuristic appeal, parody, and critique.

 

Flaunt is an hour long, with no interval. Sometimes the time dragged, and at others the work was absorbing. Final show tonight 7pm.

 

21
Aug
14

Be a part of Wonderland at Brisbane Powerhouse

 

You can be a part of Wonderland at Brisbane Powerhouse but be quick!

Submissions close TOMORROW.

 

Brisbane audiences will be treated to an explosive carnival of alternative comedy, cabaret, circus and music when Brisbane Powerhouse presents Wonderland from Friday 5 – Sunday 14 December 2014.

 

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During Wonderland the outdoor Powerhouse Plaza will transform into a night-time playground as a myriad of performances take place each night across several indoor and outdoor venues.

 

Artistic Director Kris Stewart says the program will encapsulate the character of Brisbane Powerhouse as a home to weird and wonderful artistic feats.

 

Wonderland will be a surprising and crazy mix of the unexpected. It’s about taking a holiday from the mundane and being able to come to Brisbane Powerhouse and experience a feast of colour and music and mayhem.

 

There will be a mad bunch of carnies and gypsies and a host of other shows. People can grab a drink at the bar and relax under the stars or come inside and explore the bizarre and wonderful performances occurring throughout the venue.

 

Artists can still submit to be part of the line-up, which already features some of Brisbane and Australia’s favourite talent.

 

SUBMISSIONS CLOSE TOMORROW AUGUST FRIDAY 22 2014

 

The boys from Briefs are back with their wild burlesque show and the Kransky Sisters are teaming up with Topology for a celebration of television and film.

 

Brisbane Powerhouse is also opening the doors and inviting artists to come and be a part of the program.

 

“We’re looking for anything outside the ordinary; street performers, slam poets, singers, comedians, circus performers. It doesn’t matter what you do, it’s about the spirit.”

 

Full submission guidelines and a downloadable registration form are available at brisbanepowerhouse.org/festivals/wonderland

16
Dec
13

Queensland Cabaret Festival – final week for submissions

 

Bursting back on the scene with a new name and new energy, Queensland Cabaret Festival throws its arms around this beautiful state of ours with a cavalcade of cabaret, winding its way from city to coast.

 

 

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Spanning the full spectrum of this unique style of entertainment, Queensland Cabaret Festival will be captivating audiences in June 2014.

 

Cracking comedy and social satire, exotic music from far flung places, local luminaries shining the light on the darker recesses of the soul, celebrations of song and visual delights. Sparkling, sexy and sophisticated. Kitschy and quirky…

 

Cabaret is alive and well and living in the Sunshine State.

 

SUBMISSIONS FOR QUEENSLAND CABARET FESTIVAL MUST CLOSE THIS FRIDAY DECEMBER 20

 

In 2014, cabaret in Queensland is expanding statewide. We’re looking for high-quality shows by talented Australian artists to feature at this new event.

 

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. We encourage everyone to submit their shows and get involved.”

 

Pitch your show! Submissions will close at 5pm Friday 20 December, 2013

 

03
Dec
13

Circa Zoo Showcase

 

Circa Zoo

Judith Wright Centre

Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts

1 December 2013

 
Reviewed by Meredith Walker

 

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At last month’s World Theatre Festival 2014 launch, Artistic Director  of Brisbane Powerhouse, Kris Stewart, referred to Brisbane as a circus city. It would seem Ruth Hodgman and Lewis Jones at The Judy agree, with leading Australian contemporary circus group, Circa, having made its home there fro some time.

 

Since 2006, Circa has toured its innovative performances across the globe to critical acclaim. Behind the scenes of its mainstage triumphs, however, is a youth workshop program, and it was its youth performance troupe – Circa Zoo – that was on display last weekend, presenting two shows to an almost full house of supportive audience members, as part of its Training Centre showcase.

 

UpDownUp is an out-the-box style of show, literally, as it features nine nimble performers of various ages emerging from a large box to balance, tumble, flip and manically hula-hoop in a series of gymnastic moves. And while ensemble synchronicity may still be developing, the skill of the young performers is undeniable. Then there is Brink which begins with a single spot-lit dancer as hint of the focussed acts to follow.

 

With lithe movements, performers use the traditions of the circus to impress, particularly through their rope and aerial work. Indeed, the whole show is not so much a circus as a celebration of strength and skill (and balance that would impress any yoga guru).

 

While all performers were given chance to showcase their variety of skills over the Circus Zoo’s 85 minute duration, the show could have been more succinct. Choreography is clichéd at times, however, this suits the comic tones of some routines and the consequential vaudeville flavour is playful and fun. The enigmatic soundtrack, which features both artsy and upbeat remixes of familiar songs is another highlight.

 

Though stripped back in its presentation style, the Circa Zoo showcase revealed plenty of compelling moments.

 

The calibre of talent on show indicates that the future of our circus city is certainly in capable hands.

 

23
Nov
13

WTF – Brisbane Powerhouse launches World Theatre Festival 2014

 

World Theatre Festival Launch 2014

Brisbane Powerhouse

Thursday 21st November

 

Attended by Meredith McLean

 

The Brisbane Powerhouse was lit up on Thursday night for the highly anticipated WTF14 Launch. No, it’s not the acronym you might associate it with (though they played with that joke a little), it’s the World Theatre Festival coming up again. Powerhouse put on a wonderful soiree to generate excitement for what’s to come.

 

Though the dress code wasn’t too stern people were encouraged to dress up in a way to make people say WTF? I’m sure you can figure out what that stands for now. There were some beautifully hideous 80s outfits being sported by guests, but otherwise it was a classy night in the Powerhouse.

 

Kris Stewart nearly stole the show from the guest performer with his speech. Beaming brighter than the projectors on the walls Kris went into exuberant details of what’s in store for WTF14.

 

There will be performances from UK, Ireland, Scotland, Indonesia and of course our own Australia just to name a few of this myriad of culture and performances.

 

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There are some returning faces as well as new ones. Look out for some fantastic creations. Money’s on Abandon by Opera Q Studio and Dancenorth (Australia/Scotland). There’s anticipation brewing as well for Chelsea McGuffin and Finegan Kruckemeyer’s Australian performance She Would Walk The Sky. But if you’re looking for something visually dominating  go for Pan Pan Theatre’s (Ireland) production of the great Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall. There will be a magnificent installation of sixty rocking chairs under burning lights, just to really bring Beckett’s radio play to life.

 

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That wasn’t all the guests got a chance to hear about at last night’s party. Moses, from She Would Walk the Sky, gave us a short performance. It wasn’t a monologue or a scene from a play. He gave us a live trapeze stunt. The man flipped and twirled while the audience literally oohed and ahhed. In true classy Aussie fashion a man in the back was heard exclaiming “Fuck!” when the trapeze artist hung from the trapeze literally gripping the rope with nothing but his back muscles.

 

If you’d like to find out more about the shows scheduled for 2014, and I insist that you do, head to their website and check out the official program now. Book early so you don’t miss out, because WTF is renowned for SELLING OUT!

 

Head here for details.