Tag: Melbourne Cabaret Festival

REVIEW: Jessamae St James is TIED UP

Bending and bonding over cabaret

By Myron My

It’s always a risky move when a performer takes an unsuspecting audience member on stage and makes him get down on all fours so she can sit on him. But when that audience member is your reviewer, you better damn well hope you have a great show to move on with!

Tied Up

Fortunately, burlesque performer Jessamae St James does have just that, and in the context of her show my participation was quite – er – tame… As part of this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival, Tied Up looks at fetishes and BDSM, including ‘forniphilia’ – a form of bondage and sexual objectification in which a person’s body (namely mine) is incorporated into a piece of furniture.

Wearing a black, body-hugging corset, St James easily captures the audience’s attention as she talks and sings her way through some more lesser-known but just as intriguing fetishes. Once the sometimes lengthy monologue describing each fetish is completed St James breaks into a song and this is where she truly does shine.

Her voice is sultry and seductive, and appropriately, she nails each and every number she sings. Moreover, St James is joined on stage by an amazing four-piece jazz band whose skill and talent take the musical aspect of this show to a whole new level.

St James does create a highly intimate and sensual environment overall, but considering the obvious impact of the music and her vocal ability, I feel less talking and more songs would have kept the enjoyment level of this show at a maximum.

I must als0 admit I would have liked to have been confronted even more with Tied Up. St James is discussing some highly sexual and often taboo themes and it would have been great to see her push some of those boundaries herself on stage, which I am sure she would be capable of doing, given her exciting performance history.

Having said that, Tied Up is still a highly entertaining show, I made a particularly fine stage seat, and I’m certainly keen to see where St James dares to go from here…

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (entry via Carson Place), Melbourne

Season: Until 7 July | Sat 7:00pm, Sun 6:00pm.

Tickets: $28 Full | $25 Conc

Bookings: http://melbournecabaret.com

REVIEW: Trevor Ashley is LITTLE ORPHAN TRASHLEY

 Leave the kids at home…

By Bradley Storer

This year Trevor Ashley brings his naughty and controversial adults-only pantomime Little Orphan Trashley to town as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. The show, an unofficial rip off of the musical Annie, is the sort of light-hearted family show that you would never bring your kids to.

Rhonda Burchmore as Miss Trannigan, the alcoholic and lascivious matron of the orphanage, effortlessly steals every scene she appears in, boozing, crooning and flashing her fabulous legs to great campy effect. Her songs are overall the best in the show, and an act two duet with Ashley is quite probably the best one of the night. Rhys Bobridge in the role of little Fannie’s pet dog (whose name is unprintable here) combines sex appeal – wait until you see his outfit! – with a cuddliness and comic timing that make his every moment onstage gleefully naughty. His first entrance had the audience in hysterics for what seemed like a full minute!

Little Orphan Trashley

Gary Sweet gets big laughs as a pajama-clad Prologue introducing us to the story, but as Daddy Warhorse a lot of his lines fall flat. He lacks the singing ability to bring off his musical number in Act One but does a better job in selling a delightfully dirty number in Act Two.

The problem is that the writing and the story are simply not engaging enough to hold the audience’s interest for the length of the show. The best parts (usually involving Burchmore or Bobridge) usually have absolutely nothing to do with the plot, so when Ashley and Sweet step forward to get the story moving again it feels like the laughs cease – in particular, an attempt to integrate recent controversy about child pornography in art into the story comes across as quite creepy (and not in the good way!). The jokes came hard and fast throughout, and there are many up-to-date references (including to Rudd’s recent disposal of Julia Gillard) which is a credit to the creative team in their efforts to keep the script fresh and relevant. However, even with this the success rate is still only fifty-fifty for the entire night, with a few precise zingers as exceptions, despite the commitment of the cast to the material.

Ashley himself does not shine with the glowing stage presence of a star, but seems like a low-key supporting character in the plot – which is hard to understand given he has more stage time, dialogue and songs than anyone in the cast. There was no moment in the show where I felt Ashley was given a chance to show off his full power and range as singer or performer, which was disappointing as in previous works he has been fantastic!

Venue: The Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Date: Thurs 4 to Sun 7 July then continuing on after the Festival until Sunday 14 July

Price: A Reserve $75, B Reserve $60

Time: Tue 7:00pm, Wed – Fri 8:00pm, Sat 6.30pm & 9.30pm, Sun 5:00pm

Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au , (03) 9299 9800, at the venue

REVIEW: Between the Cracks with YANA ALANA

Simply scintillating

By Kate Boston Smith

Yana Alana’s much anticipated new show Between the Cracks for this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival grabs you by the soul and cradles you deep in her blue-clad bosom for the best part of an hour.

The diva within the diva is Sarah Ward: a woman who has a wicked smile with a wit you could set your watch to, and whose delectable use of language is only surpassed by her tremendous voice.

Yana Alana

Self proclaimed ‘feather-ruffler’, Yana Alana bares all and is unafraid to speak her mind about the failings of others and society around her.  She has the uncanny knack of twisting all of her ego foibles around, to the point where you would apologize to her, should she step on your toe in one of her many sojourns into her adoring audience.

An entirely original show, Yana’s fantastical poetry, vocal power and dominance of the room has you on the edge of your seat and soaking up every precious moment.  For it can be in the blink of a heavily fake-lashed eyelid that Yana will spin the show in a new direction, and can possibly and suddenly be sitting in your lap.

“Not a role model, but a model with rolls” – this is not a show for the faint-hearted.  Reading from her personally penned self-help book, Yana slaps you in the face with the realities of her world as an underappreciated performance artist/ writer/songstress and of course model citizen.  Songs such as ‘Box me In’ and ‘Some of the Queerest people I know are Straight” highlight our obsession with classification and how this passion for exclusion can cut us off from understanding one another more deeply.

As with most of Yana Alana’s shows, some of the favourite moments are those unscripted when things come slightly off the track.  An accidental breast in an unsuspecting face or microphone failure do not curtail this seasoned performer, but merely add to the internal rage that we so love to see played out before us.

Her spontaneous and pre-determined comedy moments and meltdowns are both hilarious and colourful, highlighting Ward’s impeccable understanding of timing and the beauty of self-deprecation.

With incredible direction by Annie Davey and a prolific support team, Between the Cracks could easily be lifted from our beloved 45downstairs and placed in the cabaret heart of New York or Berlin and received with respect and admiration without missing a beat.

If you are looking for a show to inspire and delight, or to show off to your friends your edgy taste in art, then Yana Alana’s Between the Cracks is the show for you.

Venue: 45downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Dates: 3 -7 July 2013

Times: 9.30pm Wed – Sat, 5.30pm Sun

Tickets: Full $35, Conc $30, Group 8+ $30

http://melbournecabaret.com/index.php/shows/yana-alana-presents-between-the-cracks

REVIEW: Sweet Dreams – SONGS BY ANNIE LENNOX

Exceptional cabaret is made of this

By Ross Larkin

It’s a brave performer indeed, who not only assumes the guise of a celebrity of the opposite sex, but endeavors to perform and ‘become’ Britain’s most successful female artist of all time – cabaret style.

Sweet Dreams

A graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Michael Griffiths has some big shoes to fill. Yet, fill them he does – until they are bursting at the seams.

The former Jersey Boys star, along with director Dean Bryant, have thankfully avoided indulgently churning out Lennox’s ‘best of’ catalogue, one after the other. Rather, they have created a comical, yet heartbreaking narrative of a fascinating artist with nothing but integrity and awe-inspiring skill.

Initially, one might grapple with suspending their disbelief over a young man at a piano, who is not so much paying tribute to Lennox, but portraying her in character.

Yet, wigs, costumes and accents would undoubtedly take Sweet Dreams into less-appropriate tongue-in-cheek pantomime or drag-queen territory.

While die-hard fans may need to overcome some fictional story elements (mostly added for comic relief), the narrative generally stays true to Lennox’s career and personal life, exploring with particular intrigue, her relationship with Eurythmics partner, and former lover, Dave Stewart.

While it’s no secret she and Stewart broke up as a couple just prior to forming Eurythmics in 1981 (which subsequently fueled an often tempestuous working relationship), Bryant and Griffiths have brilliantly used Lennox’s music to shed a clearer light on the meaning of her songs.

Griffiths plays and sings with effortless charm, innovation and finesse, giving new insight into the likes of ‘Who’s that Girl?’, ‘Missionary Man’ and ‘Why’.

Along with a newly-explored meaning of these familiar tracks, is the re-interpretation of the music itself. Griffiths adds a vaudeville charm to the formerly dark, synthesised ‘Love is a Stranger’, and a refreshingly melancholic sadness to pop classic ‘When Tomorrow Comes’ – injecting a gorgeous energy that, dare it be said, surpasses the original.

Sweet Dreams is a mesmerising feast of laughs, sadness and brilliant music showcasing a true icon with style and wit, recommended even for the lesser of Lennox’s fans.

Sweet Dreams: Songs by Annie Lennox is playing nightly as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival until Sunday, July 7 at 7.30pm at 45 Downstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

Bookings on 03 9662 9966 or fortyfivedownstairs.com

REVIEW: EP Launch with Spanky in CANDICE MCQUEEN – NASTY

His/her hit show is now on EP

By Jessica Cornish

On  Sunday November 4 in the iconic Spiegeltent nestled beside that giant ferris wheel, the outrageous artist Spanky morphed into Candice McQueen to launch her 5 track EP as produced by the Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

As always, the high-heeled Candice, draped in fluorescent pink and with blue eyelashes did not disappoint. But nor did WAAPA graduate support act, Gillian Cosgriff who kicked off the launch wonderfully, and quickly captivated the audience with her quirky songs about past relationships and bad experiences with shaving her legs and a lack of band aids in her life.

The feature show Nasty, fresh from its previous run a few months ago in the Melbourne Cabaret Festival, stars the bizarre Candice McQueen, ‘fluent in the language of fag,’ who tells epic tales of her life including a birth surrounded by a circle of gorillas, an hiatus in the Middle East where she was present for the crucifixion of Jesus, and a move to West Hollywood where she meet her lover, River Phoenix…

The  ‘Mr Sister’  has eternally strong stage presence, great comedic timing and an ability to draw you in to her bizarre world: however it was sometimes easy to get lost with some of her songs towards the end. But like the guy next to me said, ‘I have no idea what she’s talking about, but it’s funny’, so maybe it’s okay to be a little bemused sometimes.

Throughout the night Candice was accompanied by her extremely talented guitarist/pianist/back-up vocalist Robert Tripolino. Dressed in a pair of worn-out red converse shoes and sunnies, he was incredible, consistently nailing every harmony, including the tricky More Than Words classic, and demonstrating his skill on the guitar.

My only concern with the launch was that  I felt the production side was slightly lacking. Candice made great use of the difficult circular space in her initial stage appearance; however she was in darkness for most of the first number and throughout the performance there were other instances where I felt the show could have benefited from greater use of light.

However, that being said Nasty the EP launch was a great night. Once again Spanky delighted a crowded venue and the funds raised from this event will contribute to future international tours for the star and her sidekick.

Review: ANGELA HARDING is Just Like You… Only Different

The finest Australian cabaret has to offer

By Myron My

Angela Harding’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival show Just Like You… Only Different takes the audience on a journey of the highs and lows of being a performer in the arts as well as touching on some more personal moments of Harding’s.

If she talks long enough then surely we’ll have something in common, Harding muses before beginning her first number for the night. Using a combination of original songs and some famous covers, her charismatic and endearing personality thus quickly spreads through the audience until we are a roomful of smiles and laughs.

Along for the ride is musical director and accompanist Mathew Frank, whose piano arrangements are flawless and add another dimension to the well-known songs that Harding performs, such as Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and the sultry “At Last” by Etta James. The transitions between songs were smooth and well paced, giving us enough time to take in what we just heard and prepare us for the next brilliant tune.

Harding particularly shines with her original tunes, including the triple threat of being a “Singer, Actor, Dancer” whereupon she also takes to the piano. Seems to me Harding is more of a quadruple threat and should clearly add musician/song-writer to this list: “Silence” is a beautifully composed song and I don’t think anyone in the audience took a breath until that final note was sung.

The crowd almost brought the house down with their cheers as Harding sang her final number and I honestly have not heard an audience cheer like that for a very long time, except at sold-out large-scale music gigs.

Just Like You…Only Different is a joyous ride of Harding sharing her stories with her audience and no doubt deserves to be the winner of the 2011 Australian Cabaret Showcase. Keep an eye out for her future performances, for this lady belongs on stage.
 
Just Like You… Only Different was performed on the 20th – 21st July, 7:00pm at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012.

Cabaret Personal Development Opportunities

Exciting opportunites to develop your cabaret skills, networks and profile…

1. FREE PUBLIC PANEL DISCUSSION

Melbourne Cabaret Festival is hosting a FREE public panel discussion about ‘making it’ as a cabaret performer,  featuring Paul Capsis, Wes Snelling, Geraldine Quinn and facilitated by Fiona Scott-Norman.   Panel members will share industry wisdom and experience on what worked and didn’t throughout their years as an emerging performer.
Date: Sat 24 July
Time: 5pm – 6pm
Venue: South Melbourne Town Hall
Cost: FREE

2. SO YOU WANNA . . . DO SMARTER, MORE EFFECTIVE MARKETING

WHAT: Auspicious Arts Incubator  seminar/training workshop on value based marketing for creative arts businesses. Learn how to do smarter, more effective marketing with a focus on what your potential customers want, and build a real value-based marketing plan.  Improve your marketing results in selling tickets, getting funding, and building a client database.   (Highly & personally recommended for any self-promoting artist)

WHERE: South Melbourne Town Hall
WHEN: 9am – 4pm, Thur 29th July
HOW MUCH: $90 (but receive a $70 rebate on arrival!)  
BOOK HERE

3. MELBOURNE CABARET FESTIVAL

The best way to learn how to perform excellent cabaret? –  watch excellent cabaret performers!   Catch some of the finest local & international cabaret artists on stage this week for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival:

‘Best of the Fest’ Nightly Shows
See a bit of everything and tickets are only $22.

Toni Lamond AM – 8.30pm Sat 24 July
Toni is cabaret royalty and an Australian entertainment icon. 
 
Yummy (Sally Bourne & Susan-ann Walker) – 8.30pm Fri 23 July
From Shane Warne: The Musical, Jerry Springer: The Opera and Menopause: The Musical to Mum’s the word…

Yana Alana & the Paranas in Concert – 8.30pm Thur 22 July
Mutli-award winning show – very edgy, political and sexy!

Book here, and join the festival on Twitter for some rumoured last minute deals…

4. SHORT+SWEET CABARET

This festival will be held at Chapel Off Chapel, Thur 18 – Sun 28 Nov: great opportunity to get noticed in the cabaret & theatre community.   Call for submissions in Aug.  

Email butterflyperformer@gmail.com & check HERE for more details.