Fairytale flights of fancy and musical dexterity
By Dean Arcuri
My Melbourne Cabaret Festival experience began with decadent delight thanks to the musical stylings of Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach: two dynamic and talented performers who, when combined, become Geppetto – a fantastical pop fairytale duo that took me on an exotic vocal journey which enveloped and swallowed me whole.
Ten musical stories over five acts shaped the cabaret that was An End to Dreaming as Dean and Diefenback as a musical Hansel and Gretel journeyed through the woods, travelling from darkness to light.
The fantastical story elements were crafted into a simple yet effective framework, that was then quickly filled with powerful vocals and original songs complimenting and amplifying each performer’s range, skill and comfort.
While the stage and costuming elements should be enhanced to expand upon the musical vibrance, it doesn’t detract while the artists switch between their instruments including synth and baby grand effortlessly. Balancing their performance along a crafted vocal tightrope, Geppetto juggle familiar chord structures and tempos that hark back to my 80s musical childhood while maintaining a modern theatrical energy that grounds the work very much in the now.
Dienfenbach’s disarming vulnerability is soon smashed away by a cheeky grin when displaying his immense talent on the baby grand. However, his vocals are not then surpassed, for even with up-tempo numbers he still sings with a heartfelt intensity that adeptly juxtaposes with the accompaniment.
Dean performs with a stoicism that amplifies her vocal power and control as she jumps the breadth of her range with an intense ease. Just when you think she has hit the ceiling, she steps up a level with her musicality or theatricality in a way that had me transfixed.
Next stop for this dynamic duo is New York, but when they return to Melbourne you can just call me the Wicked Witch, because however long Geppetto are stuck in the woods by the close of the performance, I’ll continue to wish that they will never ever leave.
An End to Dreaming was performed on the 13th – 14th July, 10:30pm, at The Loft – Chapel off Chapel as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012