Well-crafted cabaret nostalgia for the great jazz era

By Myron My

Fancy Meeting You is a cabaret set in a New York 1930’s jazz bar where the three employees of the bar – the Maitre D, the showgirl and the musician – share their stories of love to the beautiful music of Harold Arlen.

There is strong chemistry between the three stars, Amalie O’Hara, Kathleen Douglas and Izaak Lim as Maitre d’, Showgirl and Musician respectively while each character struggles with their own concept of love, for Miss Lucille (the Maitre d’) is pregnant and single, Maggie May Adams (the Showgirl) has a fleeting encounter with a stranger and Abe (the Musician) is losing the man he is in love with.

O’Hara is particularly strong as the Maitre d’ and demands your attention when she is on stage. In contrast, you have the aloof pretty showgirl in Douglas who offers the lighter moments of the show. Lim, who also performs some of the music, finds the nuances of his character and makes you feel the pathos he is trying to bring to the surface.

All three have strong voices, give exceptional performances when singing alone and complement each other when singing together. The great strength of Fancy Meeting You as cabaret is that the songs selected help further the story and show the feelings, desires and vulnerability of the characters. The accompanying piano skills of Tim Cunniffe are flawless and delightful throughout the show.

It wouldn’t be a homage to Harold Arlen without performing what is his most famous song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – the song that even to this day gives me goose bumps when I hear it.

Despite its fame and frequent use in cabaret, the trio manage to evoke the same yearning here that Judy Garland did when she sang the song – an impressive achievement.

In its homage to the Great American Songbook, Fancy Meeting You has strong performances and tunes that leave you with a bittersweet feeling by the end of it. A rich cabaret experience.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne

Season: Until 18 November | 7:00pm, Sun 6:00pm

Tickets: $23 Full | $20 Concession