Tag: original music


Crazy Christmas cheer

By Amy Planner

Tinserella: Keeping Christmas Safe is a one-woman comedy cabaret that packs a punch and makes no excuses. It takes you an on an amusingly unexpected journey through a multitude of alter egos, original musical numbers and physical farce.

Joana Simmons has not merely hit, but smacked the solo stage with her debut writer credit, leaving nothing in the tank after throwing herself about and titillating the audience.


This one-woman show is really anything but: a silent, albeit very physical rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Hero”, a quasi-contemporary dancing techy and a word-mincing news reporter are just a few of the myriad of intriguing appearances in Tinserella. One of the highlights of this weighty stack was a hipster singing about the hard life of being just that – a hipster. There were a few sticky areas where characters may have been a little unsure of themselves as they came to life on stage for the first time. However there is real merit in the range of characters presented during and in the construction of the show overall. With such a colourful cabaret of characters, one-liners, lively dance moves and a spot of audience participation, Tinserella makes you question your boundaries and laugh all the way home.

Don’t be put off by the balloon you are handed as you walk in to the dimly lit room at Club Voltaire – you will soon figure out what your breathed donation gets you and you won’t be disappointed. If you are not one for audience participation make sure to steer clear of the aisle seats, unless bubble-blowing or Hi-Vis vests are your thing. In saying that, Joana has clearly made it her mission to make Tinserella a well-rounded experience you won’t quickly forget and she has succeeded.

For a sky-reaching first attempt at writing and performing solo, Joana Simmons has hit the spot and makes you giggle at the cheeky bruise she has left behind. Tinserella is ‘keeping Christmas safe’ in the most entertaining way possible.

Venue: Club Voltaire, 14 Raglan Street, North Melbourne
Season: 27 November – 30 November, 7.30pm
Tickets: $20
Bookings: http://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=110727


REVIEW: The Butterfly Club Presents THE LATE NIGHT SEXY SHOW

Charmingly cheeky

By Narelle Wood

It was really hard to convince people to come with me to see a show called The Late Night Sexy Show scheduled at 10.30pm on a Thursday night; and I also admittedly was a little apprehensive about what exactly I’d gotten myself into. But any trepidation disappeared in the first few minutes with the assurance that The Late Night Sexy Show would be exactly that – a late-night and sexy show.

Grant Busé performs a collection of original songs, and a medley of some more well-known numbers that concentrate on the derrière region, to explore not only the idea of sex but also sexual attraction, lust and a number of other topics that would be considered taboo in more conservative company.

Late Night Sexy Show

Given the potentially offensive or awkward nature of the content, Busé puts the audience at ease with some friendly and surprisingly non-confrontational audience participation early on, that paves the way for some ‘interesting’ conversations later in the show. One of the most entertaining aspects of the show was Busé’s interaction with the audience and the way he was able to deal with and integrate the random tendencies of some of the audience members.

While the material is obviously exceptionally well-written (I’m assuming there would be a high cringe factor if it wasn’t), it is complimented by Busé’s musical and dancing talent, and the ease with which he performs. It is really hard to pick a favourite part of the show as all of it was simply great: Busé is exceptionally talented and I’d go see it again.

Part-musical, part-comedy, part-strip show and political satire, this is a highly entertaining performance that demonstrates taboo subjects can be humorous without being distasteful. If you can handle a late night out on a school night and the word ‘sex’ doesn’t make you blush, this is a must-see show.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: 10.30pm Every Thursday in May
Tickets: $23 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com/show/the-late-night-sexy-show


An eclectic collection from an exciting young composer

By Narelle Wood

Playground is a collection of songs by the very talented Nick Hedger. Whilst some of the songs, such as those from Hedger’s much talked-about one-man cabaret show Crap I Found in My Room, have obviously been worked through a number of times, this musical collection also showcased some of his newer work including songs from HomeSick and Conditions.


Playground’s ‘players’ consisted of an experienced and talented cast including Kerrie Anne Greenland, Brent Hill, Andrew Hondromatidis, Erin Kennedy, Emily Langridge, Ben Nicholson and Nick Hedger himself. Given the experience of the cast it was honestly hard sometimes to work out whether the occasional off note, which was mostly noticeable during the harmonies, was first-night nerves or a result of Hedger’s sometimes unusual, but workable, musical arrangements.

The musical numbers showcased Hedger’s ability to write everything from comedy, to ballads, to creepy tunes about the Pied Piper taking his revenge. While there were some clear themes to songs from the same musical works, without reading the explanation in the program many of the songs lacked context making it difficult to ascertain what was going on. This was especially the case where the songs made overt references to storylines and characters from particular shows, and was further compounded by the show jumping from musical to musical. That been said, the show did have an overall balance between the musical genres it presented.

The standout moments of the night were provided by those pieces that were written or performed with comedic intent: “Golden Rule”, “Playa” and “Is That What Makes a Relationship?” On the creepier side of the comedy was the performance of Hondromatidis, Nicholson and Hill as three witches back from the dead in “Back in Salem”; this was disturbingly entertaining in the only way watching three grown men menacingly sing “we’re coming for your children” can be.

It has to be said that Hedger’s ability to tickle the ivories stole the show, especially during the piano solo from “Bit of a Feelin’”. Whilst some of the ballads were a little over-sentimental, I would be very eager to see more of Hedger’s work: this is a musical mastermind in the making.

Venue:Chapel off Chapel, Prahran

Season:Saturday 1st March 8pm, Sunday 2nd March, 6.30pm

Tickets:$30 Full | $25 Concession

Bookings: chapeloffchapel.com.au/ticket-sales/


A stage cast and songbook of significant talent

By Narelle Wood

Songs in the Key of Me does not just have an awesome title: it also has a selection of songs with music and lyrics by a very talented Greg Peterson. In just over one hour we were given a taste of a variety of musical genres from Peterson’s repertoire, including heart-break ballads, Broadway tunes and even a little bit of self-proclaimed lame country and western that demonstrates just how ridiculous country and western lyrics can be.

Songs in the Key of Me

Providing the vocals for this show are Adam Bianco and Samantha Du Rennes. Bianco starts the show with the title song, “Songs in the Key of Me”: a brilliantly-orchestrated Broadway number that explores the glitz and glamour of the stage and how easy it is for a performer to become lost in the moment. Bianco is a clear embodiment of this sentiment throughout the show, giving his all to every song no matter what the genre or performance style is required.

Du Rennes has an amazing vocal range, and the power with which she sings the James Bond-esque espionage song, “A Secret to Die For”, would make Shirley Bassey proud. Whilst Du Rennes has a strong voice, she sometimes lacks the charisma of Bianco and their relationship seems a little more brother-and-sisterly than the intimate relationship required by the stronger love ballads. Du Rennes’ strongest performance by far is “The Things I Left Behind”, which clearly has personal meaning for her.

Danny Forward provides accompaniment on the keyboard and deals deftly with some of the very complicated, fast-paced and intricate orchestrations required by Peterson’s songs. At times the intricacy of the orchestrations do seem to be competing with the vocal performances, although this may be due to the acoustics of the room and the gusto with which Bianco, Du Rennes and Forward perform. It is great to see Bianco and Du Rennes playfully interacting with Forward throughout the show. This provides some cohesiveness to a cabaret that does sometimes feel a little disjointed with Bianco and Du Rennes coming on and off the stage.

I would have liked the show to have finished with a full encore of “Songs in the Key of Me” as this was by far my favourite number of the night along with Peterson’s ‘coming out song’; both these pieces have clear similarities to some of the great Broadway musical numbers of the past which is especially evident in Peterson’s clever use of word play. Songs in the Key of Me hits just the right note and is well worth a look.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place, CBD

Times: Until 16th Feb, Wednesday and Sunday 8pm, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9pm

Bookings: http://www.thebutterflyclub.com/shows


See him live

By Christine Moffat

Paul McDermott has built a successful TV career since Doug Anthony All Stars from occasionally singing a song, and fully exploiting his lovably evil personality.  Lots of people do this, but no one does it quite like ‘our Paul’.  When he is sharing funny anecdotes he gives you permission to have a guilt-free laugh at life’s darker points.  He brought this quality in spades last night: nothing was out of bounds, and every story he told was funny and very wrong.  As a comedian McDermott is a darker, edgier performer here than his television persona: perhaps a live show can give him licence to be ruder, even more irreverent and therefore even funnier.

Paul McDermott

Paul McDermott the singer is a something different and more emotionally involving.  His voice is a surprising blend of sweetness and maturity, and he sings with commitment – nothing is a throwaway line.  The songs that he performed ranged from touching ballads to high-energy soul numbers (all but one from his ‘back catalogue’), and also his own compositions.  The “band of real musicians” as it says in the show’s blurb, (led by the great Stu Hunter) is fantastic and musically re-made the songs into something fresh and new.

The crowd was a bit tame at first, perhaps quietened by the shade of his daunting TV personality.  He quickly built rapport, ironically by turning his acerbic wit on the audience, and soon had everyone stomping loudly in appreciation.  It goes without saying that he is a funny man, but what you may not realise is that he is also an incredibly generous performer.  When the show ran over time, he and the band led the crowd out of the band room, and performed a couple more songs on the stairs in the foyer!

Paul McDermott has a wickedly funny mind, a haunting voice, and an obvious love of performing and entertaining a crowd.  What more could you ask for on a night out?

Venue: The Forum – Downstairs

Dates: 10 – 14 April, 16 – 20 April

Times: Tues – Sat 9.45pm/Sun 8.45pm

Price: $34 (U18 must be accompanied by an adult)



Ticketmaster 1300 660 013

At the door


Disturbing and superb

By Bradley Storer

“We’re going to tell you the story of the Rape of Lucrece, a tale full of both beauty… and violence. Be warned – there may be a bit of singing.” With this simple introduction, Irish cabaret star Camille O’Sullivan launched us headfast into an evening of hearty and full-blooded (in more ways than one) story-telling. O’Sullivan, along with her collaborator and accompanist Feargal Murray, has taken Shakespeare’s classic poem and transformed it into what feels like a chamber opera written for a single voice. The performance, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, combines Shakespeare’s text in both spoken form and as songs set to original music by O’Sullivan and Murray.

Photo by Keith Pattison

The set is simple, consisting of a backdrop of several windows and the stage floor littered with numerous piles of manuscript. The only other element is the touching presence of two pairs of shoes at opposite ends of the stage – a pair of delicate white slippers, and a large pair of dark leather military boots, representing cleverly the characters of Lucrece and her rapist Tarquin.

O’Sullivan as a storyteller and actress is magnificent, beginning simply telling the narrative but slowly transforming before our eyes into both the menacing and malevolent Tarquin, and the innocent, tragic Lucrece. Filling the stage with her gargantuan presence, O’Sullivan paints the picture of the story and each of its characters effortlessly. With just a sardonic flick of her hand, she can make Shakespeare’s poetry as achingly and horrifically relevant as anything written today. Her wondrous singing voice can soothe and terrify in equal measure, ranging from a low seductive murmur to a full-bodied shriek of agony.

This is not an evening for the faint-hearted – the performance does not shy away from displaying the full horror of events, O’Sullivan so committedly and perfectly embodying the pain of rape and its aftermath that at times it is almost too horrible to watch. Even in Tarquin’s part of the narrative, O’Sullivan shows us the deep ambivalence and disgust which co-exists with the man’s darker impulses. The amazing lighting design throughout contributes massively to the many worlds, interior and exterior, within which the story plays out.

Do not come to this show looking for a relaxing night at the theatre – however at the end of the harrowing tale, we are left with not only sadness but also the deep, primeval pleasure of an epic tale told with immaculate skill.

Directed by Elizabeth Freestone

Dates: January 31st – February 10th , 8pm

Venue: The Sumner, Southbank Theatre, 140 Southbank Boulevard

Tickets: $85 / Conc $77 / Youth $33

Bookings: www.mtc.com.au or 03 8688 080


Fairytale flights of fancy and musical dexterity

By Dean Arcuri

My Melbourne Cabaret Festival experience began with decadent delight thanks to the musical stylings of  Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach: two dynamic and talented performers who, when combined, become Geppetto – a fantastical pop fairytale duo that took me on an exotic vocal journey which enveloped and swallowed me whole.

Ten musical stories over five acts shaped the cabaret that was An End to Dreaming as Dean and Diefenback as a musical Hansel and Gretel journeyed through the woods, travelling from darkness to light.

The fantastical story elements were crafted into a simple yet effective framework, that was then quickly filled with powerful vocals and original songs complimenting and amplifying each performer’s range, skill and comfort.

While the stage and costuming elements should be enhanced to expand upon the musical vibrance, it doesn’t detract while the artists switch between their instruments including synth and baby grand effortlessly.  Balancing their performance along a crafted vocal tightrope, Geppetto juggle familiar chord structures and tempos that hark back to my 80s musical childhood while maintaining a modern theatrical energy that grounds the work very much in the now.

Dienfenbach’s disarming vulnerability is soon smashed away by a cheeky grin when displaying his immense talent on the baby grand. However, his vocals are not then surpassed, for even with up-tempo numbers he still sings with a heartfelt intensity that adeptly juxtaposes with the accompaniment.

Dean performs with a stoicism that amplifies her vocal power and control as she jumps the breadth of her range with an intense ease.  Just when you think she has hit the ceiling, she steps up a level with her musicality or theatricality in a way that had me transfixed.

Next stop for this dynamic duo is New York, but when they return to Melbourne you can just call me the Wicked Witch, because however long Geppetto are stuck in the woods by the close of the performance, I’ll continue to wish that they will never ever leave.

An End to Dreaming was performed on the 13th – 14th July, 10:30pm, at The Loft – Chapel off Chapel as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012