Tag: Jacqui Dark

REVIEW: Melbourne Cabaret Festival Opening Gala 2015

Glorious beginnings for another promising festival

By Bradley Storer

This year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival Opening Gala, keeping with the festival theme of ‘Keeping it Fresh’, took place at St Kilda’s new Alex Theatre, with excerpts from fresh new festival acts from all over Australia.

Melbourne Cabaret Festival

Dolly Diamond provided a lovely opening to the show, passing through the audience offering roses while singing a charming medley of tunes from ‘Oliver!’, accompanied by Cameron Thomas, and introduced our host for the evening – musical theatre performer and former Australian Idol finalist Rob Mills. Mills, admitting it to be his first gig as an MC, was a charming and competent host throughout the evening, even having to strike the stage and bring out props with enthusiasm and energy.

Annie Lee shed her usual garb as the eldest of the acclaimed Kransky Sisters to deliver both a touch of glamour and gawky physical comedy to the little-known poetry of the Weimar era in excerpts from her show ‘Lighthouse Berlin’. The Strange Bedfellows, Jacqui Dark and Kanen Breen, stormed the stage to deliver contemporary Weimar-style cabaret with jaw-dropping vocal power and charisma, traversing such territory as a German-language version of ‘Tainted Love’, a new number based around the misdeeds of Rolf Harris all the way to Amanda Palmer’s gutsy anthem for humanity ‘Sing’.

Winner of the Your Theatrics International Cabaret Competition, Noni McCallum, took to the stage next and proved beyond doubt the reason for her win – a ballsy belt with a dry, self-deprecating wit, McCullum narrated the humours of dating past age 30 before ending with the simultaneously hilariously and surprisingly touching ‘Ikea Song’. A capella groups Ginger and Tonic and Suade showcased their trademark exquisite harmonies combined with witty and risqué songwriting, providing viewpoints on the modern dating scene from both feminine and masculine perspectives. Closing the night were the Queens of the City, a drag group whose members entertained the audience with sassy banter, Cher-impersonation and stunning contemporary pop vocals.

The wide variety on show at the Gala aptly displays the variety and breadth of talent, both local and international, that Melbourne Cabaret Festival draws year after year and which bodes well for the festival’s future in years to come.

Date: June 18th, 2015
Venue: The Alex Theatre, 1/135 Fitzroy St, St Kilda

REVIEW: Jacqui Dark and Kanen Breen are STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

Deliciously dirty cabaret

By Bradley Storer

Australian opera stars Jacqui Dark and Kanen Breen bring their delightfully perverted brand of dark cabaret to the Melbourne stage.  The diabolical duo, clothed in corsets and border-line S&M finery, storm the stage of The Butterfly Club and make clear from the outset their aim to both offend our sensibilities and entertain us at the same time. In their opening number Dark and Breen harness the operatic power of their voices in thrilling ways to deliver a roof-rattling Robbie Williams number, never apologising for their classical roots but finding a surprisingly comfortable middle ground between modern rock and opera.

Strange Bedfellows

The evening was an onslaught of confrontational sexuality, moral degradation and gasp-inducing humour that harkened back to the highly political and satirical origins of classic German cabaret, but always performed with a cheeky smile and a refusal to be serious. Topics ranged from the masculine/feminine dichotomy found in both men and women alike, a Germanic rendition of ‘Tainted Love’, an extended and uproarious rock opera/morality play about sexual fetishes too heinous to be mentioned here, all the way to a medley of the pair’s childhood songs which culminated in a simultaneously heart-rending and bone-chilling performance of the Dresden Dolls’ ‘Slide’.

Dark is an earthy, sensual presence onstage, using her commanding mezzo-soprano in a wide variety of styles and wielding her forthright and ribald sense of humour to maximum effect. Her tale of being classified as a ‘geriatric’ mother and the trials of IVF was a refreshingly sincere change of pace in the show that still managed to draw laughs even as it touched the hearts of the audience. Breen’s devilish grin and sinuous stage manner, along with a powerful and penetrating tenor, make him and Dark an ideal and complementary duo onstage. Together they drew the audience into depths of filth, lust and sin that terrified and titillated in equal measure. My only critique would be a slight loss of pace towards the end of the evening as more sincere material took over, losing some of the crackling and dynamic energy of the darkness which preceded it.

A terrific evening of classic Weimar-style cabaret from two accomplished local artists, Strange Bedfellows: Under the Covers sure to be savoured by those enjoy the darker and dangerous pleasures of life.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne

Date: 18 – 22nd February
Time: 6pm Wednesday and Sunday, 7pm Thursday – Saturday
Tickets: At the door, www.thebutterflyclub.com
Price: Full $32, Concession $28, Members $26, Groups 8+ $25