Frank and funny, with an unforgettable finale
By Bradley Storer
Entering in complete darkness Jenny Wynter begins her cabaret, An Unexpected Variety Show, exhorting her audience to reflect in the dark on their own lives and choices, before launching into the opening song bearing the same title as the show, marvelling at the many twists and turns one life can take.
This autobiographical show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival takes us on a tour of episodes of Wynter’s life, broken up with a wide stylistic range of original songs.
The main theme is the attempt to reconcile youthful dreams of fame and success with the responsibilities of adulthood. There are hilarious numbers about youthful affairs, mother/daughter relationships, and married life all interspersed with costumes changes and (at one inspired moment) puppetry.
While always maintaining a mercurial atmosphere, Wynter does not shy from quite confronting material even from the beginning, touching on her experiences as a young mother, the death of a close family member as a child, and the struggle to balance family life and life as a performer.
Wynter gives off the brassiness and bravado of a veteran showgirl, but with the mature vulnerability of one for whom the show has ended years before. While not always strong vocally, she has the distinct features and versatile singing voice of a classic character actress, ably jumping from a throaty and voluptuous saloon song to a Tina Turner-style soul number and even rapping with aplomb.
While it may not be not mind-blowing, Wynter is a charming performer and has written a show with a big heart and many beautiful moments throughout, in particular one gorgeous and touching segment where Wynter harmonizes with the voice of her own mother (herself a singer), with the finale leaving a smile which is impossible to erase.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne
Dates: April 10th – 22nd
Time: Tuesday/Wednesday/Sunday 6pm, Thursday/Friday/Saturday 7pm
Tickets: At The Butterfly Club, or online at www.thebutterflyclub.com
Group (8 or more) $23
Tightarse Tuesday $15