Posts Tagged ‘queensland cabaret festival



15
Jun
15

Rob Mills Is…Surprisingly Good

 

Rob Mills Is…Surprisingly Good

Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland Cabaret Festival

& Mackay Entertainment And Convention Centre

Powerhouse Theatre

Sunday June 14 2015

 

 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

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Rob Mills Is…Surprisingly Good. It’s a humble, slightly bemused premise on which to base a show (they’re the words of critics of course), and it works. Mills is sensational, surprising East Coast audiences with his self-deprecating humour, natural musical ability and charisma. Anyone who has seen Mills in a musical theatre production, as Jamie (The Last Five Years), Fiyero (Wicked), Warner (Legally Blonde) or Danny (Grease), won’t be nearly as surprised as the rest. Again, this time within the challenging realm of cabaret, Mills shows his mettle.

 

I loved how they put the word grease in the hair of the logo. It made it exciting as soon as we sat down. The direction was beautiful and the song Sandy almost made me cry in Mum’s lap. Sandy is a beautiful song and Rob Mills sang it perfectly. I’m sure I saw the movie, but I thought this version was much better than the movie.

 

– Poppy Eponine

 

robmillsparishiltonThe “not really a Rodgers and Hammerstein kind of guy” clearly has a ball sharing his personal stories, which stem from a childhood of singing and playing guitar, and a heap of pub gigs followed by his 15 minutes thanks to Australian Idol, and an eclectic assortment of rock songs and musical theatre faves. The show is loosely based around notions of Dancing Through Life (Wicked), [He] Knew You Were Trouble (Taylor Swift) and finding one’s Purpose (Avenue Q).

 

We’ve seen and heard a lot from Mills via TV and THOSE headlines, and he doesn’t shy away from any of it, in fact he relishes all of it (even a boy band medley moment, which is GOLD); he reminisces and laughs with us.

 

 

He’s unashamed and beyond reproach. He’s dancing through life, and why not?

 

Striking the perfect note, Mills opens with Live in Living Colour (Catch Me If You Can). He is at once disarmingly cute, irresistibly charismatic…although he takes a few minutes to comfortably settle into the space.

 

The Powerhouse Theatre is a good deal bigger than the intimate surrounds of RACV Noosa Resort for example, which is where you’ll catch him next, in a Supper Club version of the show during Noosa Long Weekend Festival after a final performance this weekend in Melbourne.

 

There are some static moments, easily fixed by a deep breath, a bolt of confidence and consistent pace (the show picks up after the whole Paris tryst bit), and I feel like the more intimate venues, which allow a closer connection with the audience, will serve Mills well. It’s as if this show has come too soon and also, at precisely the right time for Mills. His gorgeous larrikin characters from musical theatre are somehow at odds with the Rob Mills he professes he wants to be seen as. So there’s clearly another show in this, but it will need to be revealed through the execution of this one.

 

 

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Penned by Mills and Natalie Garonzi, and directed by Tyran Parke, Mills and his hot band (hello, Kuki Tipoki!), led by MD Andrew Worboys, impress and delight the Queensland Cabaret Festival crowd.

 

A final cheeky appearance in the tight white pants of Fiyero seals the deal, in case we weren’t already, er, enamoured. The audacity and cheek of this increasingly confident performer even wins over sceptical Sam, who’s relinquished his +1 role many times, missing some previous performances about which Poppy and I have raved. After the show too, handing out “Surprisingly Good” buttons and posing for selfies by the bar, Mills proves he has the goods to stay at the top of the entertainment tree. So I think it’s time we dropped the “surprisingly good” and acknowledged that Rob Mills is sensational! I’ll look forward to seeing this show again, and whatever it is that must come after it.

 

 

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15
Jun
15

Storm Large – Taken By Storm

 

Taken By Storm

Brisbane Powerhouse & Queensland Cabaret Festival

in association with Adelaide Festival Centre

Powerhouse Theatre

Sunday June 14 2015

 

 Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE STORM LARGE.

 

 

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Storm Large is THE most incredible, powerful, most compelling cabaret performer you may never have known about. Well, perhaps you knew about her long before I did, in which case, why didn’t you say something?

 

A fitting fuck-yeah finish to our 2015 Queensland Cabaret Festival experience, Storm Large and her super slick band, Le Bonheur, performed a string of unique versions of songs by Cole Porter, Lou Reed, Tom Waits and Randy Newman, as well as original songs (Angels in Gas Stations, anyone?). IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE. It was a set list that made me wonder all over again, where has this woman been all my life?! Well, she’s been singing in clubs since the 90s and attracted some attention in Portland (that’s right, in Portland), co-fronting the “little orchestra” – you may have heard of it – Pink Martini. In real life she’s been through hell and it’s ALL MADE HER WHO SHE IS TODAY – an Amazonian dark angel superwoman singer, author, actor, speaker, playwright and cabaret star of strength, sass, sex appeal and powerful vocal and emotional all-in-take-no-prisoners-never-leave-an-audience-member-behind performances. I do wish I’d had her to help me get through my thirties.

 

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Storm Large sings the truth and waxes lyrical about all sorts of subjects in between; her witty patter the relaxed, well-practiced-impromptu, political, crowd control stuff of a consummate cabaret star. Her easy connection with the audience (she knows we’re hungry for connection) means she takes us in the palm of her hand and tosses us from one song to the next and in and out of torrid emotions with the precision of the bouncy ball under a lyric. That’s not to say there’s no pause for reflection. She’s in no hurry. She can basically do whatever the hell she likes because ASTONISHING SUPERIOR BEING. She’s assertive, aggressive even, and yet she coaxes us too, whispering secrets that are clearly intended for each and every one of us.

 

A rock star storyteller nymph with powerhouse vocals and an epic personality to perfectly fill the space, I LOVE HER. I LOVE HER ORGASMIC CHANTEUSE ROCK DREAM RENDITION OF I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN. CHECK IT. REPEAT. REPEAT. REPEAT. And try to tell me your day your life is not 100% better now.

 

 

 

In complete contrast, the wickedly funny, toe-tapping original number, 8 Miles Wide (“that’s about 13.7km in Australian”) has us all singing along if we’re not laughing out loud, desperately gasping for breath. #pussysoundsbetter

 

 

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Deeply satisfying original musical arrangements and Le Bonheur help this woman to soar, sure (another highlight is Hopelessly Devoted to You. Holy hilarious hard-hitting dominatrix stalker death metal torch song, Batman!), but it’s her command of the stage, clad in over-the-knee boots and fitted LBD, and her tone and vocal control that’s floored me. Ethereal Katie Noonan-ish top notes make way for devilish growls, just in case you mistook her for the angel she sounded like in the moment before a dark flash of smouldering wise woman wicked lightning.

 

 

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If every aspiring performer could drink in a whole night of Storm Large every now and then, perhaps we’d see a real resurgence in the genre, rather than the current everyone’s-got-a-story-to-tell trend. Because she gets everything there is to get about seducing an audience and manipulating us through one of the best one-night-stands of our lives.

 

Let’s face it. We’ve been taken by Storm. She’s the slickest, smartest, sexiest performer of the Queensland Cabaret Festival cabaret scene. Let’s have more of this glorious storm, pretty, pretty, pretty please.

 

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11
Jun
15

Best of Queensland Cabaret Festival!

Best of Queensland Cabaret Festival!

 

 

In here, life is beautiful!

 

 

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Last night Queensland Cabaret Festival kicked off with Voices of Vice, a one-off cabaret/concert bringing together some of the best local talent ahead of most of the visiting artists arriving from interstate and overseas.

 

Unfortunately, this meant a clash with one of the Festival highlights, Painted From Memory: The Music of Bacharach and Costello starring Michael Falzon and Bobby Fox with special guest star Luke Kennedy. If you saw it, let me know what you thought! I was sorry to miss it because these guys are CLASS.

 

Shows will clash. This is a standard Festival dilemma.

If only we could be in several different places at once.

 

Voices of Vice brought us songs of dissipation, debauchery, wickedness, corruption and all manner of sin, with highlights from Lizzie Moore, Melissa Western, Tyrone Noonan and Sandro Colarelli singing a song of Satan, written for him by The Good Ship. Hosted by Colarelli, Greg Bird (I loved his drunk piano number) and Alison St Ledger, the schtick lacked punchlines and pace (I find the pace lags whenever St Ledger takes the mic but boy, can she sing!), but the artists had a ball and the audience got a “taste” of what’s to come over the next few days and nights.

 

Make sure you plan ahead and get to the venue in time to find a park and get to Bar Alto at Brisbane Powerhouse or Russell Street Wine Bar at QPAC for a bite to eat and a chance to purchase your drinks because you can take drinks into the shows. Because CABARET.

 

HOT TIP: If your tickets are for the cabaret seating in the Powerhouse Theatre BUY A BOTTLE because punters getting up in the middle of a sultry torch song to get more alcohol and then juggle several glasses and said bottle on the way back to their seats are REALLY ANNOYING TO THE ARTISTS AND THE OTHER PUNTERS. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

 

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#openingnightstyle Camilla & Sachi shoes (Metalicus under because WINTER)

 

TONIGHT

 

Choose from Tyrone Noonan’s Vegas! Standards Reborn, Mary Wilson: Up Close, Bendigo to Broadway: Bradley McCaw or Dash Kruck in I Might Take My Shirt Off. I loved Kruck’s show when we saw it earlier this year at Melt Festival.

 

 

 

 

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FRIDAY

 

You might like Vaudevillian ne’er-do-wells Dirty Sexy Politics (Tom Albert and Samuel Valentine), who are seizing government the only way they know how: with sex, revenge and unbridled chaos. Or you might feel like an hour of stirring, high-class entertainment with two of Queensland’s best loved artists as Annie Lee (with accompanist, Sallie Campbell) shares her most treasured songs and stories of a life in cabaret. Or you could join Geraldine Turner for an evening of songs from her celebrated career, peppered with show business anecdotes and stories.

 

OR you might be in the mood for a bit of jazz flute and double entendre from the surprise of the opening night show and (wait and see) the surprise hit of this festival, the nu-folk comedy duo, Warmwaters. The creation of Bridget Boyle and David Megarrity (with a cheeky look in from Lewis Jones – what a great team that makes), these two would probably feel more at home at Woodford Folk Festival, however; having accepted the invitation to appear at “Voices of Nice” they took everything in their stride and stole the show. It’s a parody of all things folk, complete with jazz flute and clever audience interaction. If you haven’t booked to experience Warmwaters you’re missing out! Image by Grant Heaton. BOOK HERE

 

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I loved Lizzie Moore (we saw her last as the other, other sister of Kylie Minogue). Moore oozes old-school cabaret sass-in-a-hat and worked the audience seated at tables until some of them weren’t sure where to look! Moore’s show, Cool Britannia, has been relocated from the Visy Theatre to the Powerhouse Theatre, allowing MORE OF YOU TO SEE IT! It’s a swinging sixties pop mod party that you won’t want to miss. Illustration by Sean Dowling. BOOK HERE

 

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Cool Britannia is the sound of those times and you’ll hear Moore bring to life hits by 60s British legends Petula Clark, Lulu and Dusty Springfield. The show also follows the sound to today, with songs from the latest wave of talent inspired by the Swinging 60s including Amy Winehouse, Duffy and Adele. Illustration by Sean Dowling.

 

Saturday

 

After a sold-out season at Queensland Cabaret Festival 2014, Michael Griffiths is back to dish the dirt and explain why he hasn’t grown up yet. Adolescent features tunes from musicals Jersey Boys and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert as well as 1980s classics by Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, A-ha and Culture Club. BOOK HERE

 

From the 80s with Griffiths and into the 90s with Tom Sharah, who’ll take you on a ride through the decade that created him. I LOVE THESE GUYS.

 

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Be swept away by sultry songbirds Baby et Lulu – Abby Dobson (Leonardo’s Bride) and Lara Goodridge (FourPlay) – and their prodigious band (Mark Harrison on bass, Ross Harrington on saxophone, Julian Curwin on guitar and Marcello Maio on accordion) in a celebration of la vie française. BOOK HERE

 

Sunday (this is actually my schedule on Sunday)

 

3:30pm

Rob Mills Is…Surprisingly Good (or not so surprisingly if you’ve been following his career from screen to stage, nevertheless he says this show was inspired by the surprise of his critics). Join Rob for an evening of hilarious behind- the-scenes anecdotes, an eclectic array of show tunes and hits from Taylor Swift, Gavin DeGraw, Coldplay and Millsy himself. Here’s a fresh reminder that Rob Mills is actually an acclaimed musician and performer. BOOK HERE

 

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4:30pm & 6:30pm

Melissa Western’s Oh Lady Be Good is back in Brisbane after a successful UK tour AND due to demand the Festival has had to add a show, which means – you guessed it – MORE OF YOU GET TO MEET MELISSA WESTERN. Image by Simon Woods. BOOK HERE

 

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5pm

Fresh from Adelaide Fringe Festival, Only the Good Die Young features Queensland’s winner of the International Cabaret Contest, Jessica Papst, and a knock-out three-piece band ready to tackle RnB, blues, funk and rock. Directed by Cienda McNamara. Image by Joel Devereux. BOOK HERE

 

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8pm

Rock meets cabaret when international sensation Storm Large takes the stage. Direct from the US, Storm Large is best-known for her appearance on Rock Star: Supernova and is one of the compelling front-women for iconic band Pink Martini. Join her for an evening of tortured and titillating love songs; beautiful, familiar, yet twisted…much like Storm herself. Storm is joined by band Le Bonheur. Image by Laura Domela. BOOK HERE

 

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8pm

If you’re not at Storm Large you should probs be on the Turbine Platform to see Blur: The Songs of Ellen Reed. Reed is one of Brisbane’s rising stars with her incomparable voice and her ability to perform gracefully under pressure. She won Nova FM’s national extreme karaoke competition by belting out Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” whilst covered in snakes and spiders inside a coffin. In BLUR Reed takes the stage to perform original tracks from her debut album, inspired by Queen, Fleetwood Mac and Frank Ocean, as well as insightful covers of classic pop, RnB and blues. Don’t miss this introduction to one of Australia’s newest chanteuses. Image by Joel Devereux. BOOK HERE

 

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That’s it, there you have it, my hot tips for the Queensland Cabaret Festival & Cabaret at the Cremorne in 2015.

 

 

Let us know where you are and what you’re loving via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

 

 

Hashtag #queenslandcabaret #qldcabaret #xsentertainment and tag @queenslandcabaret & @xsentertainment

 

 

10
Jun
15

Queensland Cabaret Festival opens tonight!

 

We’re sending the lucky winners of our double passes to ABSINTHE tonight!

Have fun, Chris, Tara and Gail!

 

Meanwhile, in New Farm…

 

 

Queensland Cabaret Festival opens at Brisbane Powerhouse TONIGHT!

 

 

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Tonight’s Voices of Vice lineup features a mouth-watering feast of festival performers and local legends including Bethan Ellsmore, Dirty Sexy Politics, Cienda McNamara, Tyrone Noonan, Alison St Ledger, Lizzie Moore, Sandro Colarelli, Greg Bird, Rebecca Grennan, David Megarrity and Bridget Boyle.

 

 

Feel free to flaunt your bad habits, perversions, and licentiousness in our den of iniquity where too much is never enough. Indulge in this celebration of tantalising transgressions, which are guaranteed to be delightful, delicious and a little bit wrong.

 

 

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In the immortal words of Tom Waits, “There ain’t no Devil, there’s just God when he’s drunk” so leave your better angels at the door – we won’t tell if you won’t!

 

 

 

 

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22
Jun
14

Queensland cabaret Festival – Batt On A Hot Tin Roof

 

Batt on a Hot Tin Roof

Queensland Cabaret Festival

Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre

Friday June 20 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

Infinite Joy

 

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We’re seeing a massive resurgence in cabaret at the moment. We’re craving stories, and a more personal approach to the telling of them. We want the intimacy we thought we’d get from social media. I know. Why did we ever even think for a moment that Facebook could be, in any way, intimate? Batt on a Hot Tin Roof takes the cabaret genre to a whole new intimate level. You know, we didn’t get to see this show in 2011 (Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne got it), so it was with great anticipation that I took Mum to the one-night-only performance on Friday night as part of Queensland Cabaret Festival.

 

Bryan Batt may be best known for his closet Mad Men character, Sal Romano, but in a previous life he enjoyed considerable success on Broadway (even securing a caricature on the wall at Sardi’s!), and now it’s this show that will put him on the cabaret map. Maybe it already has, although – I hate to admit it – Brisbane has come to it late. Or, it has come to Brisbane late. But better late than never!

 

I knew Sal from Mad Men, but I haven’t had a chance to keep watching the series; it’s on a shelf with Revenge, Smash, Sex and the City, Alias, Boardwalk Empire, Spartacus, True Blood and Game of Thrones. What? I like my DVDs.

 

This guy (Batt not Sal) is almost up there with Mandy Patinkin and look, coming from my mother, who has not only seen Patinkin perform twice but has also met him at QPAC and had a fangirl photo with him, this is high praise indeed!

 

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Bryan Batt says of his show that it’s a mixed bag of nuts, developed as a benefit after Hurricane Katrina hit his hometown New Orleans in August 2005. He’s been performing it ever since so naturally, we can expect it to be polished. What we don’t expect is just how slick and savvy and funny this guy is in real life on stage, and also, how fresh and new this show appears to be. Batt is effervescent and lavishes the Brisbane audience with well rehearsed hilarious stories of growing up with his high society Southern Belle mother and a tall, dark and handsome manly man father, more difficult to connect with until later in life. The latter is a picture painted beautifully delicately, later, in What You’d Call A Dream (Diamonds). From the first to the last, it all comes across just as naturally as if we were standing outside Bar Alto by the river with drinks and cigarettes.

 

 

“Should we drink before or after the meeting? Or both…”

 

Not only does Batt regale us with stories from his own life experience, he cleverly, sensitively references the Queensland floods, empathising with anyone who has ever seen 9ft of water in their home. It’s Amazing the Things That Float written by his talented mate, the award winning Pete Mills, brings home the point. It seems Batt is driven by genuine kindness and gratitude rather than a need to jump on the cabaret bandwagon; it’s the essence of this show, this sharing of his personal take on the world. He’s actually the ideal cabaret creature.

 

Also, he gives us a few top cabaret tips. That’s right. The third song in a cabaret show is always a ballad, a love song, but this one is a little different! From COPS (was the musical ever even finished?), Sensitive Song seals the deal for those with any doubts – this guy is GOOD! We recover from total hilarity quickly, with a change of mood in a microsecond because following that bit of evil genius by Lawrence O’Keefe & Nell Benjamin is the most intense, gorgeous version ever of Cole Porter’s Night and Day. I decide that Batt is actually a mood change master, someone from whom so many cabaret artists can learn so much, when next comes an amusing anecdote about leaping from the back seat of the car to the front and politely asking Mother for a hairbrush-for-a-microphone to sing along to Downtown. And we don’t hear them all out lout but there are those occupying the tables up front who are quite clearly singing along at the top of their voices, if only in their heads and hearts.

 

The next little run of songs challenges – you can feel it in the air as we’re faced with the actual historical evidence behind the success of Mad Men – with Burt Bacharach’s Wives and Lovers (and This Guy’s in Love With You). This is a beautiful arrangement to highlight one of the most disturbing songs ever written, which we heard (just in case we’d missed the point!), at the end of Mad Men Season One. Oh, you don’t think? Think again. And again, Batt effortlessly makes the message clear.

 

Hey, little girl,
Comb your hair, fix your make-up.
Soon he will open the door.
Don’t think because
There’s a ring on your finger,
You needn’t try any more

For wives should always be lovers, too.
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you.
I’m warning you.

Day after day,
There are girls at the office,
And men will always be men.
Don’t send him off
With your hair still in curlers.
You may not see him again.

For wives should always be lovers, too.
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you.
He’s almost here.

Hey, little girl
Better wear something pretty,
something you’d wear to go to the city.
And dim all the lights,
Pour the wine, start the music.
Time to get ready for love.

Dim all the lights,
Pour the wine,start the music.
Time to get ready for love.
Time to get ready,time to get ready for love.
Time to get ready,time to get ready for love.

 

Horrifying. And incidentally, really gratifying to watch this version of the song and see the resemblance to Jack Jones that our good friend Grant Smith sports. In suavity only, not in archaic attitude, let’s be clear about THAT.

 

The one that gets me though is Unusual Way, from the Maury Yeston musical NINE (one of my favourites, not staged often enough!). Originally, one of Guido’s many lovers, Claudia, sings Unusual Way, and despite hearing male voices sing it before, the effect of Batt’s heart wrenching rendition is immediate, in fact to hear him sing these words you would think they’d been written for him.

 

Another surprise, but not really, is the very sweet, very moving I’m Becoming My Mother.

 

“You mean a person can act one way and be thinking the exact opposite?! That’s ridiculous.”

 

To get back to upbeat, we hear the tale of Batt’s first Broadway experience, seeing Gilda Radner sing Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals with his mother, and very proper grandmother… O.M.G. In case we didn’t yet have tears of laughter rolling down our cheeks, Batt performs Way Ahead of My Time (The Caveman Song), another little bit of pure gold from composer/lyricist Pete Mills. COME TO OZ, PETE MILLS! During the final segment of the show we understand Batt’s love for New Orleans (Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans) and NYC (a double time New York State of Mind). And then, Batt on a Hot Tin Roof doesn’t end with Jerry Herman’s I Am What I Am from La Cage Aux Folles but with the affirmation after the affirmation – William Finn’s Infinite Joy (Elegies), which Batt dedicates to a much-loved teacher and delivers with greater quiet strength and better measured passion and conviction than anybody on YouTube. And you KNOW I love Betty.

 

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Batt on a Hot Tin Roof is not just a mixed bag of nuts; it’s a bit more special than that. For me it’s a treasure trove of glistening fairy wishing stones, like the ones Poppy puts out on the volcanic rock by our pool beneath a full moon. Each musical number is an absolute gem and the patter in between each is smooth and secret and friendly and confident, just the way cabaret chat should be.

 

If you’re yet to discover the magic of Bryan Batt’s cabaret persona, look out for his next live appearance – there is nothing online that does this performance justice. If only the show we enjoyed on Friday evening had been filmed and added to the YouTube universe, you’d see precisely what I mean, and my pitch to bring Batt back would be almost complete.

 

 

15
Jun
14

Queensland Cabaret Festival – On a Night Like This: The Erin Minogue Story

 

On A Night Like This – The Erin Minogue Story

Brisbane Cabaret Festival

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Platform

Sunday June 15 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

An entirely untrue story featuring some true Minogue hits. 

 

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The “other other Minogue sister” stopped by Brisbane Powerhouse tonight to reminisce about old times and announce a new Minogue sisters’ tour. To Erin’s grave disappointment though – we discover via a phone call from her nan – she will actually be watching every show from the wings as the famous sisters’ quick change helper.

 

The premise alone is hilarious and Lizzie Moore is perfect in role as the “unknown” Minogue sister, Erin, not the slightest bit famous for teaching 3-8 year olds at her suburban talent school. We join her to do The Locomotion (she has everybody on their feet!), which she says she teaches to even her youngest students…so we should be able to do it! Of course we can do it! Earlier today, I’d asked Poppy, “Hey, do you know the famous pop star, Kylie, who did The Locomotion?” I start singing, “C’mon baby, do The Locomotion…” and I’m met with nonplussed silence. “Sure Mum.” I say, “Really? Do you?” And not to be put off so early in the conversation I add, “You know, Nanny made me a three-tiered hot pink satin skirt for the Year 7 dance. My primary school friends would remember that outfit! It was…awesome!” Not looking up she says, “Oh. Okay. No, not really, Mum. I don’t know who that is.” She continues playing Frozen Fall on my old iPhone. This disinterest from an eight year old who loves to sing and dance! (The moment is up there with similar responses to my very timely and clever references to Romy and Michelle, Ferris Bueller and a Delorean. She should be the most popular-cultured kid on the planet). Oh well. I’ll show her Kylie’s original film clip tomorrow. I’m sure she’ll be suitably impressed.

 

 

With Anthony Costanzo on keys as the accompanist D’Aaron (like L’Oreal), we experience a night of entertainment unlike any other, of imagined early memories, amusing (and cautionary) audition tales (damn that Tina Arena!), and the sort of sharp, caustic wit and dry satire we Aussies love to dish out amongst our own. Haters gonna’ hate y’all!

 

Entire segments of the show are dedicated to Kylie’s ex-boyfriends, featuring original arrangements by Costanzo of 1980s hits including Especially For You (a tribute to Jason Donovan) and Suicide Blonde (for Michael can’t-tell-his-scarf-from-his-belt Hutchence). There are a few swoons feigned around me, as images of each boy grace the big screen, and Erin’s obvious devotion to both stars elicits giggles and then fits of laughter. Moore’s sense of humour and her physical energy carry this show, which verges on clunky in parts and could probably be solved by a slightly faster pace and fewer distractions. She’s so funny to watch though so don’t look away! Moore’s choreography and facial expressions are comedy gold!

 

 

Oh yes. Distractions, what distractions? I hear you ask. Alright, I’ll tell you. The Turbine Platform is not my favourite space for this sort of performance and I wish I’d been able to focus more easily on Moore’s clean, strong vocals, made more difficult to hear over the murmur dull roar of foyer voices and the clatter of restaurant plates and glasses. Ideally, this show would go into the Visy Theatre, below; a more intimate, slightly better sounding proscenium stage space with tiered seating. The show is pretty slick and it’s so much fun, it deserves a more suitable space. And a return season. Just saying.

 
On a Night Like This is a perfect piece as a stand-alone cabaret show or one half of a double bill, with a suitably sentimental story that never makes us cringe. It’s funny and it’s sooo daggy but it’s not dowdy, and it’s sweet without being saccharine and sad, just like the best school reunions and eighties parties oughta be. And I oughta know. Always leave before the dance floor empties. And don’t be devo’d when the cute boy turns out to be gay after all. Or married. Or dead boring. JUST SAYING.

 

Whether or not you’re a fan of the Minogues you’ll appreciate Erin’s story and enjoy her songs. Next time this show comes around, better go around, spin around, gather together some friends and go see it!

 

15
Jun
14

Queensland Cabaret Festival – Unseen: A Tribute to Marni Nixon

 

Unseen: A Tribute to Marni Nixon

Queensland Cabaret Festival & Your Theatrics International

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Platform

Saturday June 14 2014

 

Reviewed by Meredith Walker

 

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Anyone who has seen the classic 1952 movie Singing in the Rain understands the role of a ghost singer in Hollywood. In it, Jean Hagen’s character, the silent film star, Lena LaMont, has a cringe-worthy voice that limits her transition to talkies, so Debbie Reynolds’ character, Kathy Seldon, is offered the job of providing LaMont’s voice. How deliciously ironic it is, therefore, that Reynolds’ voice was also dubbed for the pivotal, operetta-like song, Would You. This is just one of many fascinating anecdotes shared by Melody Beck in her self-devised biopic cabaret show Unseen: A Tribute to Marni Nixon (the ghost singer lauded by Time Magazine as ‘The Ghostess with the Mostest’).

 

 

It is soon apparent that although you might not know Nixon by name, you will surely be familiar with her voice, given that she provided the (uncredited) vocals for some of Hollywood’s most renowned leading ladies – Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady to name just a few. She even dubbed the high notes for Marilyn Monroe’s Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

 

With such a pedigree, it’s easy to succumb to the nostalgic celebration of the show’s soundtrack alone as Beck shares snippets of a story spanning many years.

 

Beck is a passionate performer; winner of the 2014 Your Theatrics International Cabaret Contest and Unseen is an excellent vehicle to showcase her versatility.

 

Not only does she inhabit a range of characters as part of its narrative, her singing, like Nixon’s, shows a skilled adaption of the personality, the timbre, and inflections of her voice to the range of characters she is portraying, from a cooing Monroe to a cockney Hepburn. Beck’s powerful voice fills the Turbine Platform space as she shares the soundtrack of this important and resonate tale. And although there are a number of hesitant moments in dialogue delivery, this is a nuanced performance, guaranteed to delight any musical fan.

 

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Ghost singing for vocally challenged stars has been around almost as long as talking pictures. Thankfully, those who were once ghosts are now credited and due to Hollywood engineering wizardry, the notes of less desirable stars are now easily sweetened. But does it really matter anyway? For it isn’t a face or name that creates joy, but what is created. And in this case, what has been created is an engaging, enjoyable musical journey with the voice of Hollywood.