Tag: Doris Day

REVIEW: Laura Johnston is HITCHCOCK’S BIRDS

Clever and appealing cabaret of tantalising tales

By Myron My

Alfred Hitchcock was a genius when it came to creating cinematic experiences. Very few directors, if any, have been able to recreate the tension and anxiety that Hitchcock managed to conjure up in such great scenes as Janet Leigh‘s shower death in Psycho or the attack on Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder. However, behind the scenes, things weren’t always so “great” for his leading ladies. In her cabaret show Hitchcock’s Birds, Laura Johnston explores what it really meant to be a woman in one of Hitchcock’s movies.

Hitchcock's Birds

Johnston portray a number of these Hollywood legends, including Leigh, Kelly, Doris Day and Tippi Hedren, and while many of the stories are not exactly new to anyone who has an interest in the man behind the camera or the women in front of it, the way Johnston tells these stories is what draws you in. Johnston uses verbatim interviews and speeches from these stars, which builds on the drama and authenticity of Hitchcock’s Birds. This is also supported by her portrayals of the eight actors where, with some simple but highly effective mannerisms and expressions, she strongly captures the elegance of Kelly, the liveliness of Day, the frustrations of Hedren and so on and so on.

It is Hedren’s story that Johnston spends most of her show exploring, speaking of Hitchcock’s obsession with her and his refusal to let her break free from her contract. Infamously, Hedren did the one thing that no one was ever allowed to do: she mentioned his weight. Needless to say, their relationship was extremely strained during the filming of Marnie: they communicated via a third party during the remainder of its filming. Even though Johnston doesn’t specifically mention this event, you can feel the history coming through in the performance.

While Johnston had a great voice for this intimate cabaret show, a number of songs seemed out of place and didn’t tie in with the events she was relaying. Her impressive rendition of “Que Sera” however, was the musical highlight of the evening.

Johnston brings these famous Hitchcock leading ladies together as if they were attending the same dinner party. It starts out with excitement and laughs they had at the honour of performing in one of his films, but slowly moves to sadness and resentment due to the controlling and dominating nature of Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock’s Birds is an intriguing and thoughtful debut by Johnston with strong potential for growth.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne

Season: Until 26 July | Fri-Sat 7:00pm, Sunday 6:00pm

Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc

Bookings: The Butterfly Club

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REVIEW: Lulu McClatchy is SUPERGIRLY

Sassy celebrity satire

By Myron My

I first saw Lulu McClatchy and Lyall Brooks on stage together last year in Neil LaBute’s play Fat Pig, and their chemistry back then was obvious. Now in Supergirly they are given more freedom to experiment and play and the outcome is even better than I could have anticipated: McClatchy and Brooks nail it.

McClatchy portrays our slightly (or extremely) delusional eponymous starlet who has relegated herself to staying indoors and reminiscing about her celebrity life, including her relationship with ex-boyfriend Robbie Williams. She has hired manservant Bradley Cooper (but not really Bradley Cooper) played by Brooks, who (for reasons of his own) humours and entertains Supergirly by dressing up as a number of celebrity visitors to her house. Brooks is clearly having a ball with the characters, including Bradley, and creates some highly memorable moments in his impersonations and dance routines.

Supergirly

The set design adds so much to the atmosphere of Supergirly: it’s reminiscent in equal parts of a bordello with its huge red curtains and ostentatious sofa, and of “Grey Gardens”, the home of famous eccentric mother/daughter pair Big Edie and Little Edie (from whom Supergirly herself seems to draw some inspiration).

McClatchy belts out her own interpretations of well-known songs by Katie Perry, One Direction, The Pussycat Dolls and the Spice Girls to name a few. She particularly lets rip with her Lady Gaga tunes where her mannerisms and facial expressions are beyond brilliant, but the highlights of the evening were still her Pet Shop Boys and Doris Day numbers.

At just over two hours long, I feel there was a need to cut some songs as the old adage of too much of a good thing does ring true here. Credit to McClatchy and Brooks though, their energy does not wane at all and each song they perform is treated like it’s the first of the evening.

Supergirly is an extremely fun show and no-one is safe when two seasoned performers like McClatchy and Brooks let loose their sparkling satire on the cult of celebrity and its followers. Even the audience gets a talking-to, but it’s all done in such a fun way that you end up really wanting to join the party on stage.

Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: Until 8 June | Tues-Sat 8:00pm, Sat-Sun 4pm
Tickets: $39 Full | $30 Conc
Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au or 8290 7000

REVIEW: Grant Newsome FROM BOTH SIDES NOW

More concert that cabaret, but an appealing performance

By Maxine Montegomery

“From Both Sides Now” – the Joni Mitchell song title in itself evokes thoughts of inner regret and struggles of the heart.

Grant Newsome’s debut show at The Butterfly Club takes its title from this very song, and sets up an expectation for the audience that they will be taken on an emotional journey with the performer.

Newsome has made a very bold choice in starting the show with Mitchell’s signature song. At the top of a show, we, the audience, know nothing about the person who stands before us – we have no background, no insight to the individual to be able to see the reality of the lyrics as reflected in their own experience. I felt that I was seeing the ‘public face’ of Newsome, rather than seeing the man himself. When he encored the number at the end of the night, he certainly gave the lyrics more candour. The hour-long show was closer in format to concert than solo cabaret, and I couldn’t help but wonder just how much more pathos the song may have carried had Newsome employed his own version of cabaret rhetoric to take the audience into his confidence and bring all the songs together as a whole.

Newsome presented a range of songs that trace the geography of his career, complemented by some of his personal favourites. The audience showed particular appreciation for “Sway”, and a very funky, swung rendition of Doris Day’s “Secret Love”. A fabulous performance of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was heightened by the tremendous work of Newsome’s backing duo – Rowland Braché on piano and Rob Nicholls on double bass. Nicholls’ percussive use of the body of the bass during the Queen number may have been quite simple in execution, but it was a delight to watch and hear. Newsome introduced me (and the rest of the crowd) to a gem of a song called “Nathalie” by Gilbert Bécaud. It was in his delivery of the song that he had me fully engaged, for his telling of the story of the piece was very affecting – as he got caught up in the tale, so did I. “Nathalie” was followed by a tri-language rendition of “What Now, My Love?”. At this point in the night, he seemed to relax somewhat and a little of the showman peeled away, letting us see more of Newsome’s true self.

I would like to see Newsome use his voice to the extent of his technical abilities – he clearly has the ability to produce sustained vocal line, and I wish we had heard more of that from him. I can understand the singer wanting to show off his full vocal range by adding an extended melismatic passage to the end of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, but to then break the title word of the song due to the length of the custom-written phrase was disappointing to hear.

A born showman, Newsome looked the part in his golden-hued suit, and his infectious smile certainly completed the picture. It is very easy to see just how at home he would have been on stage at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.   I have no doubt that he has a whole range of experiences in his life which could be translated into a host of solo cabaret shows in the more intimate and personal sense of the genre suitable for a more intimate venue, and I look forward to seeing what he next creates.

From Both Side Now has its final showing at The Butterfly Club on Sunday May 6th at 6pm. For tickets, visit www.thebutterflyclub.com.