Tag: Jade Leonard

REVIEW: Melbourne Cabaret Festival’s CLOSING GALA

Olympians, Oprah and marriage equality in fabulous festival finale

By Bradley Storer

The stars of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival joined together at Ormond Hall on the festival’s closing night to raise funds for and support the cause for Marriage Equality.

Tara Minton, a British-based Australian harpist and singer, played selections from her festival show about the songs of Joni Mitchell, enchanting with her ethereal arrangements of ‘Woodstock’ and ‘Smitten’ and a voice that combined delicacy with a surprising power. Karin ‘Danger’ Muiznieks showed off the breadth of her range (as well as a dead on Piaf impression) in a tune that summarised the highs and lows of the Festival accompanied by Cameron Thomas.

Jon Jackson astonished the audience with his incredible range in an Etta James classic and a heartfelt song about the joys of marriage and children (made all the poignant by Jackson’s remarks about the inability to marry his partner of fifteen years). Cabaret diva Tina del Twist (the drag alter-ego of Wes Snelling) took to the stage with an imaginary back up band, crooning snatches of songs in a voice of spine-tingling power, in between bouts of wandering the stage in an absent-minded haze that felt like a three-act play in itself!

After intermission international drag cabaret star Spanky re-opened proceedings with some rock’n’roll sexiness as she sauntered through the crowd, accompanied by guitarist Robert Tripolino, before stunning with the Madonna tune ‘Revolver’ from his 2012 Green Room award-winning show Candice McQueen. Jazz chanteuse Jade Leonard took to the stage with her self-penned gay anthem ‘Equal Love’ before announcing her engagement to drag performer Art Simone (also present on the night) and inviting the audience to their nuptials at the next Equal Love Rally.

Matthew Mitcham as MC for the evening charmed with a ukulele mash-up of Kylie tunes for his opening, and guided the rest of the event with awkwardly adorable enthusiasm. This being a fundraiser for marriage equality Mitcham played to certain elements of the crowd, performing an impromptu striptease to ‘Barbie Girl’ (accompanied on the harp by Minton) which I’m sure left half the audience with spontaneous pregnancy. Later he showed off more of his… ahem… ‘assets’… during the auction which raised prices significantly!

Closing Gala

The night closed with a special guest performance by Oprah (played by Rachel Dunham), fresh from her Melbourne Cabaret season in Oprahfication, who regaled us with tales of starting out as a young black woman in television and bringing the house down with a voice that shook the rafters.

An incredible end to one of Australia’s fastest growing festivals, displaying the phenomenal talent on offer every year.

 Venue: Ormond Hall, 557 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Date: 7th July 2013

Time: 7:45pm

Review: THE GREATEST MEDLEY OF ALL TIME

Gotta love a show that lives up to its title!

By Dean Arcuri

Seasoned Butterfly Club performers Jade Leonard and Trevor Jones combined their musical prowess to create a non-stop cabaret train; having enjoyed their solo works before, I was eagerly anticipating this combination.

With the entire performance being one long medley of camp and classic songs, we were in for a real treat.

Creating The Greatest Medley of All Time is a daunting endeavour but with Jones accompanying their vocals for the full hour of performance as he and Leonard changed tones, styles and tempo with ease, they certainly hit the nail on the head.

Channeling a wide range of musical numbers they opened their mammoth medley with The Lady is a Tramp, but having Trevor sing that the tramp was actually Jade meant we immediately settled in for a night of fun!

Joking they were the best wedding band of all time, the two performers contrasted great jazz, music theatre and diva showstoppers with classic love ballads  like Endless Love and The Mirror Has Two Faces, changing tempo and mood by clever segues into Man in the Mirror and Valerie in tributes to musicians past.

Jade sings with such sweetness you would think her diaphragm is dipped in honey. This is singing with a tone and beauty that seems to surround and engulf the space around you, leaving the listener to be swept up by the sounds of this siren.

Trevor balanced with ease between fine vocals and continuous accompaniment: he never tired and his exuberance and uniquely enigmatic style was intoxicating. Sharing the spotlight we are swept up in the power of their duet ballads as well and the sass and spunk of their solo numbers.

The only problem with a never-ending medley is have to pick when to applaud, but the audience seemed content to wait till the show’s conclusion to cheer and even sing along when we hit the fabulous Grease Mega Mix.

Both performers have a sense of showmanship and musicality that carried through from number to number, keeping me transfixed. Many moments were spent fighting the temptation to just close my eyes and soak in the sounds: for while the staging was simple, closing my eyes would have meant missing the sight of the obvious joy they both brought to the medley

An hour was not enough – we need more! Fingers crossed for return seasons of this vibrant cabaret show in the near future…

 

The Greatest Medley of All Time  was performed at The Butterfly Club from 22-25 March.