Tag: Billie Holiday


International star lights up our cabaret festival

By Myron My

Joey Arias’ Arias on Holidays was the perfect introduction to not only the 2013 Melbourne Cabaret Festival but also to Arias himself. Appearing in a haze of smoke and armed with nothing more than a piano (and a flashlight), Arias was captivating and from the second I heard his voice, I was hypnotized.

Joey Arias

Arias’ jazz and blues tunes are quite breathtaking and he manages to fit in a few other unexpected songs that keeps us guessing as to what is coming up next with a cheeky rendition of a “Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles proving to be a crowd favourite.

Arias’ repertoire for the night also includes songs from her time with Cirque De Soleil and her 2008 production Arias with a Twist – which sounds like a show that must be seen to be believed.

My favourite song of the evening was “Why Don’t You Do Right?” – most famously sung by Peggy Lee, but Arias owns it. Arias’ finale “Be My Baby” not only continued to showcase his massive talent but also some surprisingly great singing voices from the audience.

There’s no doubt that Arias is channeling Billie Holiday in his music choices and style, but amusing there is an occasional touch of Carol Channing in Arias’ voice too!

Arias is joined on stage by jazz piano virtuoso Jeremy Brenna and the rapport between them is quite frankly, hilarious. Their banter could have been a show on its own and it’s hard to believe they’ve only been working together a short time.

There were a few comically cringe-worthy moments in the show which included Arias shoving a microphone down an unsuspecting “volunteer’s’ trousers and singing into it but somehow Arias makes these all seem – er – ‘above board’…

New York cabaret icon Joey Arias’ Arias on Holiday was an evening of a lot of class and a little bit of crass, but either way, it was an enjoyable venture out for this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

Joey Arias performed on June 27 and 28th at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the 2013 Melbourne Cabaret  Festival.

Review: KIM SMITH in Misfit

Dark, daring and divine

By Bradley Storer

Entering the Loft at Chapel off Chapel with his back to the audience, staring longingly into the spotlight overhead, Kim Smith instantly created a striking image of loneliness which befits a show with the title Misfit. From this apt starting point, the audience is taken on a dark journey through lost innocence, heart break and death.

Smith travelled through a wide range of material in English, German and French, with a focus on the works of Kurt Weill – the classic Weill numbers ‘Surabaya Johnny’, ‘My Ship’ and ‘Pirate Jenny’ all make an appearance, each word delivered with crisp delectation.

This dark sensibility is brought even to the lightest of moments –  after riffing on his experiences in his adopted home, America, and his own bloody history, an hilariously un-PC Peter Allen number about moving to Dixie is chained onto the signature Billie Holliday song ‘Strange Fruit’, culminating in a powerfully chilling rendition of Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ which stunned the audience with its devastating subversion of the song’s hopeful sentiments.

Smith is a creature born from the Weimar cabaret tradition, with even contemporary songs delivered with a Germanic twist, laced with vulgarity and cynicism.

Smith himself is a sinister mix of Joel Grey circa Cabaret and the Cheshire Cat, a charmingly frightening figure with his own brand of subtle sexual charisma: truly the ‘misfit’ of the title. His voice is tightly controlled and wielded to maximum effect in every song he sings, and his banter with the audience left us all laughing hysterically.

My only criticism would be in the show’s penultimate song, The Supremes’ ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ – while using contemporary songs in other contexts with hilarious results, this song is so far removed in both style and sentiment from the rest of Smith’s repertoire that it jars.

Other than this, Misfit is classic cabaret with an intense and charismatic star at its centre – don’t miss out!


Dates: 22 -24 June 7pm

Venue: Chapel off Chapel

Tickets: $40 Full, $35 Concession

Booking: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au

Phone: 03 8290 7000