Posts Tagged ‘queensland cabaret festival

13
Jun
17

Screw Loose

 

Screw Loose

Queensland Cabaret Foundation

Queensland Multicultural Centre

7-8 June 2017

 

Reviewed by Katy Cotter

 

 

Arriving at the Queensland Multicultural Centre in Kangaroo Point, I was puzzled as to why I hadn’t been there before. This venue is Brisbane’s best hidden secret, it seems, with a large theatre performance space. As part of Queensland Cabaret FestivalEmily Vascotto took to the stage in her hilarious show Screw Loose. With direction from Gabriella Flowers and accompanied on piano by Ben Murray, Vascotto delves into her experience as a self-confessed stalker. She takes the audience on a journey of past relationships from kindergarten to adolescence to now, with passionate (and somewhat embarrassing and obsessive) stories, and songs of her struggles with letting go. By the end of the show, Emily Vascotto is just a woman scorned, misunderstood. She is far too fabulous and gorgeous for any man to handle. But don’t worry, she’s not one to give up easily, and her search for Mr. Right or MR RIGHT NOW continues.

 

Screw Loose is quirky and unsettling in the best way.

 

I found myself wondering if all these absurd tales were in fact true and taken directly from Vascotto’s life. She introduces herself as “Emily.” Is this an alter-ego?

There is one moment I feel is taken too far. Trigger/Spoiler alert: During one song, a set of keys are used to cut a lover’s name into skin. It went on for longer than necessary and it felt a bit insensitive.

Also, the space seems too large for the show. A curtain drawn to hide the depth of the stage would have created more intimacy. In saying that, Vascotto’s performance is physically spot on. She knows how to work it, never missing a beat, knowing exactly how to draw the audience in. With a flick of her luscious auburn locks, the wink of a smoky eye, she exudes confidence and sass, and is a joy to watch on stage. She keeps the audience on their toes, having everyone falling in love with her and then with a simple twitch of the head or a change in her tone, has us all thinking “this girl really does have a screw loose.”

I am blown away by Vascotto’s voice. Holy moly, what a set of pipes! And it isn’t only during the songs (that she wrote, by the way), but the musicality of her speaking voice, which is just as captivating.

Regarding cabarets and musicals, there needs to be a flow between story and song. The beginning of Screw Loose seemed a little stagnant, though a better momentum was found as the show progressed. It is hard when the only thing on stage is a performer and a pianist – there is nowhere to hide. But more often than not, that’s cabaret. Vascotto has an amazing presence, which she uses to her advantage.

It’s a shame the season was so short but this isn’t the last we’ll see of Emily Vascotto. With this year’s Tony Awards just announced, it seems appropriate to ask, will it be Broadway next?   

    

10
Jun
17

Song Lines

 

Song Lines

Brisbane Powerhouse & Charming Rebel

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

Thursday June 1 2017

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

 

What’s your song line? Do you know? Do you know where you come from; where you’ve been and what’s brought you to this place? If you do, that story is your song line, your living narrative, connecting you to all things, past and present. For many Indigenous cultures, their personal and cultural maps are far-reaching networks of songs, creating connections between people and place.

 

Michael Tuahine’s song line is not only his story, but those of his parents too; an Aboriginal mother and Maori father, and just like the slice of heaven that is the New Zealand production, Daffodils (sorry, if you missed it, it was superb), Tuahine’s debut solo show features his parents’ relationship and the soundtrack of their lives. His own story almost takes second place, however; it’s made very clear that the story continues, and that at this point, Tuahine’s 42 and single!

 

We hear the troublesome tale of his mother’s experiences as a young girl, at the hands of white Australians, and her resolve to start her life again in New Zealand, the only place to which an Australian Aboriginal woman could escape without a passport. I feel like we want to see a whole show about Tuahine’s mother… Let’s make that happen.

 

Once, once in a while

You’re gonna find her

Waiting for some recognition

It’s her transition to recognition

She has to be loved

She want to be needed

Don’t want to be hated

Just loves to be wanted

 

 

Tuahine’s deep connection to family and place comes through so beautifully and authentically.

 

We share in some of his fondest memories, of the fun and lively extended family gatherings, involving rich voices and guitars, and beers and footy, and good food and great kids; we understand perfectly, the deep sense of belonging and returning, and returning again to wherever home is made. Then of course there are the career moments that had to be had, including the relative success of the 90s boy band AIM 4 MORE. While the photos of the band and the family, which are shared as slides, add a personal element to the show, I think I’d expected something a little more sophisticated in the presentation. We’re accustomed to the audio visual work of the likes of optikal bloc, and perhaps we’ll need to see something more engaging in the next version of the show. Have we seen already, the screen shots of the family pics shared on Facebook, with all the likes and comments and emojis? That would be a neat way of sharing these precious memories for a social media savvy cabaret audience. This is an artist who can get away with such a gimmick.

 

 

Tuahine himself is nothing short of engaging. He’s charismatic, quick witted, cheeky and very funny; he’s quite a catch! (What are you doing about it, women of Australia?!). He’s able to bring pathos and proper crooner compassion to the ballads, certainly his strong point. At times the rock numbers lose a little of their impact, but this is easily remedied if Tuahine is to continue to work with musical directors such as Bradley McCaw, who is musically brilliant and brilliantly entertaining on keys, guitars and vocals. In fact, this three-piece band could easily travel with Tuahine to the far ends of the earth for gigs. They work beautifully together.

 

Roy Orbison’s Crying will always make me think of Mulholland Drive, but this rendition is in remembrance of Jimmy Little, the Aboriginal artist who encouraged Tuahine to pursue his dreams of becoming an entertainer, and inspired him to go to Queensland Theatre Company’s AD, Wesley Enoch, with the concept for Country Song.

 

When we hear She Has To Be Loved and Tuahine’s favourite Maori numbers and Australian Aboriginal songs, we hear his whole heart and soul.

 

This beautifully packaged show, taken under the gentle wing of someone willing to quietly coax a little more out of it, and with all the charm and sincerity of its rising star, will be as far-reaching as any song line. Keep an eye out for its return.

 

 

07
Jun
17

Seven On Sinatra

 

Seven on Sinatra

Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

Friday June 2

 

Reviewed by Katy Cotter

 

 

American singer Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular and influential music artists of the 20th Century. He sold more than 150 million records worldwide and was the recipient of eleven Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Trustees Award, Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

Sinatra was a class act, making the ladies swoon and men wish they were as suave and charismatic.

 

Under the musical direction of Tnee Dyer, seven of Brisbane’s finest female singers took to the stage to honour Sinatra’s incredible legacy. The Powerhouse Theatre was packed, and with cabaret seating set out, there was a buzz of excitement in the air. Being born in the 80s (I’m proud to admit it), I am no Sinatra expert and I entered the show without expectations. By the end I was bopping in my seat, singing along, surprised at how many songs sounded familiar.

 

What I love about music is its ability to transport you through time and space. When listening to songs like Fly Me to the Moon and I’ve Got You Under My Skin, memories were conjured of my mum dancing and humming in the kitchen as she listened to the wireless. And hearing They Can’t Take That Away from Me I remembered being a teenager watching the movie Corrina Corrina over and over.

 

The set list included all the hits and the band was exceptional. The joy of listening to a swing or jazz band is tuning into those often surprising, intricate moments that showcase each instrument. There is a subtly between each transition. At one time the audience is engrossed with the lyrics, then the piano is the focus, and slowly a glorious crescendo of the trombone sneaks into your ear. I was filled with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Other times it was all go-go-go, with a hot to trot, get out of your seat, let’s dance kind of energy. The lighting design was amazing and lifted the performance again, with cool blues, booming reds, and sensual greens.            

Now to the seven ladies… Apart from the talented Liz Buchanan, who sang with such elegance and poise, I had not seen the other women perform. It was opening night (and sadly the only night) so there were some nerves shown by some at the beginning of songs. Jo Doyle had a smile from ear to ear and was a pleasure to watch as she weaved through the audience and danced with the band. Jacqui Devereux was clearly known and beloved by the audience who praised her with roaring applause. The beautiful Claire Walters was in her element; her voice was pure romance, making my eyes wander… “Could my love be here?” The vocal range of Bethan Ellsmore was otherworldly. She was a musical siren, seducing the audience back in time to 1930s New Orleans. Bombshell! Rebecca Grennan was an absolute delight and one of my favourites. She was cheeky and flirty, and the girl can dance! I did not want her to leave the stage. 

 

Two words. Melissa Western. This is a name you need to remember. One of Sinatra’s idols, Tony Bennett, said that Frank had “perfected the art of intimacy.” Western seemed to be channelling the man himself. Her performance was utterly captivating, wooing the audience with every word. Jaws dropped as she sang My Way. If she has a solo show, I need to know about it because she is dynamite.

 

 

 

 

(Melissa Western’s Gig Guide is here).

 

I thoroughly enjoyed Seven on Sinatra. This show was the perfect homage to the man and the music. 

07
Jun
17

The Really Real Housewife of Surfers Paradise

 

The Really Real Housewife of Surfers Paradise

Brisbane Powerhouse & Lisa LaCelle

Friday June 2 2017

 

Reviewed by Katy Cotter 

 

 

Yes, you heard it here first, Mercedes DeLuca-Jones is auditioning to become the new Really Real Housewife of Surfers Paradise. This lady has everything her heart desires, a husband with a large check-book, two beautiful children who have moved out of home. What more could she want? FAME!!!

 

The ever-versatile Visy Theatre was transformed into Mercedes’ luxurious sitting room on the Gold Coast. There sat a grand piano, a bar cart with only the most expensive French champagne, extravagant rugs, and a large statue of a Cassowarie – of course, darling! Mercedes, played by the beautifully charming Lisa LaCelle (as it turns out, a housewife of Brisbane) graces us with her presence in a fabulous sequinned number with diamonds sparkling on her ears and fingers.

This wickedly hilarious comedy-cabaret sees Mercedes gossiping about friends both alive…and dead. She recently lost her gay best friend, Ritchie, whose voice she still hears and believes now is her guardian angel. To help deal with her grief she’s hired a music therapist, Ivy, who sits behind the piano sufficiently boozed up, it seems, to withstand Mercedes’ rollercoaster of emotion.

The story follows the highs and lows of Mercedes journey to be the next Housewife. She suffers shocking personal blows that see her husband Gregory running off with a Japanese exchange student, and her left clawing at her polyester Moo Moo in the hope to regain her dignity.

Alongside the witty and intelligent writing, the lyrics from hit pop songs weaved seamlessly throughout the show have been altered to suit the story. It was clear that LaCelle had a voice, but Mrs. DeLuca-Jones not so much, though it was the over-the-top performance of each song that had me in stitches. Her I don’t care what you think attitude got the audience on side from the get-go, and singing along.

With reality television taking over, this show is extremely current. It was entertaining and like reality TV, it was a chance to escape the hum-drum of everyday life, and have a laugh at another’s expense.

 

LaCelle’s performance is entrancing, throwing herself into the character, eliciting raucous belly laughs from the audience.

 

She was in complete control, even when phones starting ringing and people deciding to have loud conversations during the show, she powered on and I applaud her for that. It was a tough gig.

 

10
Jun
16

Michael Griffiths: COLE

 

Michael Griffiths: COLE

Brisbane Powerhouse & Queensland Cabaret Festival

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

5 June 2016

Reviewed by Katy Cotter

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Ok. Hold the phone. Have you heard of Michael Griffiths? You need to. He is a singer, pianist, actor, composer and musical arranger who studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA). He has performed in numerous musicals such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert, We Will Rock You, Shout, and my all time favourite, Jersey Boys. He played the role of Bob Crewe four years running for which he was nominated for a Green Room Award for Best Supporting Actor. This man is pure talent. 

It was my first time seeing Griffiths perform on a rainy night on the 5th of June, though it was warm and cosy inside the Visy Theatre at the Powerhouse. I felt like I was entering a secret underground jazz club. A grand piano sat on stage with a crystal glass and a bottle containing brown liquor, not too far out of reach. Soft amber light filled the room. A somewhat devious audience member discovered the crystal bottle contained not alcohol but tea. I should hope so, for Griffiths needed to wet the whistle quite a few times. Perhaps we would have seen a very different side of Cole Porter.

Yes, the star of the show is Mr. Cole Porter, an American composer and songwriter. He was classically trained but found his heart was drawn to musical theatre and by the 1930s he was one of the major songwriters on Broadway. I admit I had no prior knowledge of Porter, but as soon as Griffiths began singing his songs, my memory was triggered and my ears filled with familiar sounds. One of his more popular musical hits is Anything Goes, though I was recognising songs such as Love for Sale, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and You’re the Top.

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Griffiths embodies Cole Porter with oodles of class and charisma. This one man cabaret, superbly written by co-creator and best-selling author, Anna Goldsworthy, takes the audience on a journey through Porter’s very colourful and somewhat controversial life in the spotlight. The highs soar effortlessly in the clouds with mesmerising melodies and witty banter, and the lows are handled with a tender subtlety by Griffiths, making sure the mood is not too dark and dreary. The show must go on, as they say.

This is one of those shows that I urge people to see because it’s a darn good time, and this is an artist who I utterly admire and respect (and somewhat envy). There was not one moment where I was bored, or wondering how far into the show we were, or thinking about my bladder exploding. I was utterly captivated by Michael Griffiths. And I was upset I didn’t bring my mum but there’s one more chance to see Griffiths – at Noosa arts Theatre on July 23 – before he heads to Edinburgh Fringe Festival! 

Book here to see COLE during Noosa Long Weekend Festival

10
Jun
16

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust

 

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust

Brisbane Powerhouse & Queensland Cabaret Festival 

Brisbane Powerhouse Performance Space

June 4 2016

Reviewed by Katy Cotter 

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Electric Moon’s spectacular show returned to the Brisbane Powerhouse for one night only as a part of Queensland Cabaret Festival, honouring the late and amazing David Bowie, and playing one of his greatest albums in its entirety. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was Bowie’s fifth studio album released in 1972, a concept album telling the story of a fictional rock star named Ziggy Stardust.

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The atmosphere in the Powerhouse Theatre was electric and I was sitting next to hardcore Bowie fans. A young girl had the iconic lightning bolt painted boldly across her face and she was talking excitedly to her mother about her favourite songs. Tickets were hard to grab a hold of, and no wonder. After Bowie’s tragic death back in January, this show’s popularity and importance has obviously grown dramatically. I could sense a unity within the room, that this incredible musician had changed lives. People had come from all over to celebrate the man as well as the music and they were certainly not disappointed.

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There is no denying the album is ‘far out there’ great with each song being a hit, but the performance was just supreme. The cast included 20 of Brisbane’s finest musicians. The eight lead vocals honestly blew me away, each embodying their own creation of Bowie’s songs. Lucinda Shaw was magnificent and dangerous as she took the stage first to sing Five Years. I thought to myself, “Can it get better than this? This woman is a freaking powerhouse at the Powerhouse!” It certainly did get better; the wind was knocked out of every audience member as the stunningly beautiful Emma Dean sang a soft and eerie version of Starman. Now there was one performer, Maria DeVita who seemed of a different breed. She was absolutely wild, stomping across the stage like a punk chic goddess while singing Hang on to Yourself. She almost made me want to start a mosh pit. Lastly, I have to mention my favourite was Daniel Hack. I hung on every word as he reached out to the audience, taking us along for the ride to outer space. His vocals were incredible and if I closed my eyes, there were moments I could swear Bowie was singing.

The show clearly would not go on without the 12 amazing musicians playing guitars, piano, strings, percussion, the list goes on! Where many are fixed on the singer, my eye tends to wander. Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the beautiful lady on piano but she was the personification of joy. As her fingers danced across the ivory keys, her smile grew wider and I just wanted to run up and sit next to her. What a talent! My grandmother would have killed to have a piano-off with this woman. Is that even possible?

If these guys return, buy a ticket. You’ll leave feeling all the emotions, but all of David Bowie’s music seems to have that effect. I actually wanted to sneak back in and see the late show. I can’t imagine how exhausted and elated the cast must feel after two back-to-back shows. They are all simply terrific, and this show is a great night out. Vale Bowie.

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08
Jun
16

I Get the Music In You: An Evening with Jan van de Stool

 

I Get the Music In You:

An Evening With Jan van de Stool

Brisbane Powerhouse & Queensland Cabaret Festival

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

 

Reviewed by Katelyn Panagiris

 

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Queenie van de Zandt as the cult character Jan van de Stool – International Musical Therapist, Interpretive Dancer and Singing Psychologist – graces our stage in I Get The Music In You, presented by Queensland Cabaret Festival and Brisbane Powerhouse.

 

First conceived on Brisbane soil in 2005, van de Zandt has since entertained audiences from across the country with her Dutch-Australian satirical self-help guru, Jan van de Stool. Jan is hilarious in her unique methods (“colonic irrigation of the spirit”), occasional misuse of the English language and her deliberate avoidance of the “big notes”. After all, as Jan suggests, belting is called belting for a reason.

 

From the first moments of our evening with Jan van de Stool, we understand that we’re going to be in for a wild ride; you may merely miss being insulted by Jan, but you won’t avoid dancing along to Wind Beneath My Wings with her not-so-interpretative-interpretative dance moves. Nor will you avoid being hypnotised into purchasing a glorious Jan van de Stool barbecue apron, or paying for your sneaky biscuit from the packet of Arnott’s Family Assorted Biscuits in the break room. And finally, you won’t avoid being subjected to a new age world of musical therapy where anything is possible, and if you happen to be really good, you’re probably not going to get a chance to perform (otherwise you may just outshine Jan).

 

In this way, van de Zandt masterfully enrolls the audience as participants in a one-day beginners course where everyone is given a run down of the basics – from stepping into your very own “golden shower” to releasing the tension in your hand by…screaming at your hand. The audience is obviously enthralled by van de Zandt’s deadpan monotonous performance as Jan van de Stool; they are fully participative, amused and outraged as joke after joke and song after song flows from van de Zandt.

 

There is something very familiar and distinctly Australian about this character that appears to win over the affection of the audience. In this role van de Zandt shines as an experienced and versatile vocalist and performer.

 

She gracefully transforms her whole being as she transitions from one character to the next, giving short performances as Jan van de Stool’s unique graduates. In these moments we have an opportunity to relish in the hilarity of Jan and her pupils, but also an opportunity to appreciate van de Zandt’s beautifully captivating voice (which is rather dissimilar to Jan Van de Stool’s).

 

I Get The Music In You is a witty, satirical cabaret shedding light on the wonderful world of musical therapy. It’s a fun evening that will have you laughing out loud to the absurdity of Jan van de Stool in all her wisdom.