Melbourne, Australia

REVIEW: Joana Simmons is TINSERELLA

In Cabaret, Cabaret Review, Whats On on November 28, 2014 at 7:57 am

Crazy Christmas cheer

By Amy Planner

Tinserella: Keeping Christmas Safe is a one-woman comedy cabaret that packs a punch and makes no excuses. It takes you an on an amusingly unexpected journey through a multitude of alter egos, original musical numbers and physical farce.

Joana Simmons has not merely hit, but smacked the solo stage with her debut writer credit, leaving nothing in the tank after throwing herself about and titillating the audience.

Tinserella

This one-woman show is really anything but: a silent, albeit very physical rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Hero”, a quasi-contemporary dancing techy and a word-mincing news reporter are just a few of the myriad of intriguing appearances in Tinserella. One of the highlights of this weighty stack was a hipster singing about the hard life of being just that – a hipster. There were a few sticky areas where characters may have been a little unsure of themselves as they came to life on stage for the first time. However there is real merit in the range of characters presented during and in the construction of the show overall. With such a colourful cabaret of characters, one-liners, lively dance moves and a spot of audience participation, Tinserella makes you question your boundaries and laugh all the way home.

Don’t be put off by the balloon you are handed as you walk in to the dimly lit room at Club Voltaire – you will soon figure out what your breathed donation gets you and you won’t be disappointed. If you are not one for audience participation make sure to steer clear of the aisle seats, unless bubble-blowing or Hi-Vis vests are your thing. In saying that, Joana has clearly made it her mission to make Tinserella a well-rounded experience you won’t quickly forget and she has succeeded.

For a sky-reaching first attempt at writing and performing solo, Joana Simmons has hit the spot and makes you giggle at the cheeky bruise she has left behind. Tinserella is ‘keeping Christmas safe’ in the most entertaining way possible.

Venue: Club Voltaire, 14 Raglan Street, North Melbourne
Season: 27 November – 30 November, 7.30pm
Tickets: $20
Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=110727

REVIEW: Jessamae St James is THE DUCHESS OF COOLSVILLE

In Cabaret, Cabaret Review, Whats On on November 28, 2014 at 7:44 am

Smooth, sultry and splendid

By Narelle Wood

Jessamae St James delivers a very cool performance in her show honouring the early jazz and blues hits from the ‘Duchess of Coolsville’ Rickie Lee Jones.

The Duchess of Coolsville

The set list, taken from Jones’ early years and her first two albums, are a mix of everything from sultry and sometimes haunting jazz to some upbeat blues with a story to tell. Interspersed between the songs St James takes us on a journey of Jones’ life. While these snippets highlight the influences her life had on her music, it’s also a glimpse into just how cool Jones’ was ‘living on the Jazz side of life’.

I found it a little disappointing that St James didn’t often introduce the song title, and it was hard to discern from the song itself, as in true jazz form there were no formulaic structures in verse, chorus verse style to help work it out. All this meant though was that I had to buy both albums in order to hear my new-found favourites. Prior to the show I knew very little about Rickie Lee Jones and I am now ever grateful to St James for the introduction to the talent of Jones.

St James herself epitomises cool in a very unaware kind of way. Her voice mellifluously glides over the notes and the brief moments of scatting were something you’d expect to hear from the jazz greats like Fitzgerald and Jones herself. Elizabeth Blackthorn provides the accompaniment on the piano, playing everything from a mean blues riff to soulful slow jazz.

The Duchess of Coolsville as almost an authentic New York Jazz club experience: the only things missing were a smoky haze and a bottle of whisky. This was certainly jazz at its coolest.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, CBD
Season: 26th and 30th November at 8pm, 27th, 28th and 29th November at 9pm
Tickets: Full $25| Conc $22
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: Red Stitch Presents JUMPERS FOR GOALPOSTS

In Review, Theatre, Whats On on November 23, 2014 at 8:46 am

An utter delight

By Caitlin McGrane

It’s not often one sees a play (or a film, or a TV show) where a straight white man is considered tokenistic: Jumpers for Goalposts gives us that and so much more. Director Tom Healey expertly presents Tom Wells’ sharp, sensitive and uproariously funny script. It tells the story of a five-a-side gay, lesbian and transgender football tournament in Hull as one team, the Barely Athletic, attempt to win/come second/come third/have a team at all.

The team consists of Beardy (Ray Chong Nee), Viv (Kate Cole), Danny (Johnathan Peck), Luke (Rory Kelly) and Joe (Paul Denny). The development and story arc of each character is equal parts witty and poignant. Each performer steps up to and meets the mark with buckets of humour, despite the heaviness of the themes.

2014 Jumpers for goalposts It’s extraordinarily rare that HIV, death and sexuality can be dealt with so clearly without anyone really uttering any of those words. In addition, the diversity on stage is a marked change from the endless parade of straight white male narratives to which we are all so accustomed; Beardy got all the best lines and Joe was almost relegated to the sidelines (puns intended).

The set and costumes designed by Jacob Battista were fantastic – the locker room in which the entire play takes place really belonged on a dodgy estate in England’s northeast. Lighting designed by Clare Springett strategically washed out the stage and gave the performers the sickly fluorescent sheen of a team worn out. Healey’s directorial vision and the efforts of stage manager Rebekah Gibbs are definitely something to write home about as the whole show (some slightly dodgy pronunciation aside) hung together flawlessly . This is a thoroughly enjoyable and truly romantic production: I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Jumpers for Goalposts is now showing at the Red Stitch Actors Theatre on Chapel St in St Kilda until 20 December. Tickets available at: http://redstitch.net/gallery/jumpers-for-goalposts/.

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