Tag: original songs

Jude Perl is PART OF THIS COMPLETE BREAKFAST

Saccharine satire at its best

 By Joana Simmons

She’s smart, she’s sweet and she’s a really talented treat. Jude Perl: Part of This Complete Breakfast is a musical comedy that’s going to be stuck in my memory for all the right reasons. Having won a Green Room Award at MICF in 2015, sold out shows at two consecutive MICFs and has just released an album “Modern Times” with a Grammy-Award winning producer, Jude Perl is delighting audiences all over the shop with her deliciously original truthful songs and candid banter.

TBC-Jude-Perl-Part-of-This-Complete-Breakfast.jpg

Beginning with a song about having 10 seconds to convince us we need this product, it only takes about 30 seconds for me to realise this woman has got something worth listening to. Her rad vocals and clever lyrics make it even easier. From the get go, she opens up her head and lets us into her tasty, colourful and weird world. Through song, voice-over and breaking-down-the-fourth-wall casual conversation about her journey from writing jingles for “Sugar O’s” to making her own album, we see her views on advertising, equality, sexualisation of the music industry, ethics and race, which are current and topical without being in your face. She darts between conversation with music biz agents voice-overs, songs and honest thoughts and theories (“loneliness equals comedy”). The voice-over’s absurd dialogue provides a loose thread throughout. She shows us, not tells us, what it’s like to have dreams, be told to follow them and realise that “following your dreams” isn’t always the best advice; rather it’s a vague message that is dangerously put out into the world for the next cult leader to pick up and follow, much to the detriment of the greater good.

Jude has the almost capacity audience singing back to her when asked and cackling and cheering throughout. Her clever play on irony to helps us realise reality; stark truths, like how having a career as a female popstar means you won’t be judged by your looks and you are able to write songs that have meaning, not ones about watermelons and sadness (right?) The song styles are as varied as a tasting platter where you like every item on it. Accompanying herself on the piano, her voice is bright and soulful, mastering runs, full belt and some gravelly heartfelt quality during her heartbreak ballad. It all comes to a climax when she sings about looking back on who she was, if she was a good person, how we can’t please everyone and sometimes you have to buy a dress that costs $5.99 even though you know “it’s made by a five year old in a five story building with no fire exit.” We are all thinking it, our laughter is genuine and uncomfortable, as we are guilty too. That’s what good artists do. They open up about something in themselves that we have somewhere in us too, and put their special sparkle on it so we can laugh and sigh about it.

It’s not easy to keep a solo show with piano, pop, voice-overs and stand-up seamlessly structured and able to make complete sense at the same time, but when it is, it’s magical. Her voice overs show real characterisation, I could imagine what the character who the voice belonged to looked like, and Jude’s interaction with them made it feel like they were onstage with her. We believed they were there because she did. Her clever creative command of the juicy content was so well delivered I want to see it all over again.

Sunday was her last performance of a killer run. I can’t wait till I have the next opportunity to experience Jude’s perls of wisdom and melodic magic. Look out for her, buy her album, go crazy before her career gets crazy successful. Jude Perl: Part of This Complete Breakfast is authentic, witty and wonderful.

Jude Pearl: Part of This Complete Breakfast was performed at The Butterfly Club, 6th – 11th of September, 2016. For upcoming performances, visit: http://www.judeperl.com/

 

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REVIEW: Australian Premiere of HAPPY PEOPLE IN CONCERT

Marvellous home-grown musical

By Bradley Storer

Australian music theatre composer Matthew Lee Robinson, after the acclaimed concert production of his musical Atlantis earlier this year, returned to Chapel Off Chapel with the presentation of his original work Happy People, a behind-the-scenes examination of the world of children’s entertainment.

Happy People - Photo Credit James Terry Photography

The titular group, ‘Happy People’, are a Hi-5/Wiggles-style collective of children’s entertainers who, after ten years working together, are falling apart. Bobby (Bobby Fox) and Sunny (Sun Park), formerly married and recently divorced, are conflicted over residual bitterness and Bobby’s self destructive tendencies. Flamboyant Jewish boy Benny (Tom Sharah) seeks to re-invent himself as a member of a boy band pop star. Jeff (Bert Labonté), the elephant-suited mascot of the group, wants nothing more than to move to his recently-bought new home and settle down with the fifth member of the group, Sally (Gretel Scarlett) – a bright bouncy blonde with the sugary sweetness and rigidity of a Stepford housewife.

The show as a whole is fantastic – Robinson, doing double duty as composer and librettist, crafts hilarious sendups of songs that seemed almost ripped from a real-life children’s TV show, as well as some emotional ballads and duets that throb with the complexities and heartaches of adulthood, alongside well-crafted scenes that had the audience in tears from laughter.

In the cast, there are no weak points – even from behind music stands and carrying books, they delivered fully committed and individuated performances. Scarlett as the manically cheerful Sally shows off some fantastic comedic chops, as well as her stunning voice of both range and power. Sharah as Benny comes close to stealing the show with every line, and his song ‘Boyband’ is a comedic and physical tour de force of every 90’s boyband stereotype. Robyn Arthur in the small but crucial role of the band’s manager Poppy brought a solid and earthy maturity to the part, as well as a rafter-shaking belt in the touching penultimate song ‘Young’.

Happy People stands as a strong work from an established Australian composer, and is great evidence of the vibrancy and originality of the emerging Australian musical scene.

The premiere of Happy People in Concert took place at Chapel off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran on the 18 – 19th October, 2014.

REVIEW: Anya Anastasia in FEAR-EATER THEATRE

Promise of more…

By Myron My

In Anya Anastasia’s Fear-Eater Theatre, we are treated to a variety of songs and performances that have been inspired by various fairy tales or iconic figures.

Anastasia’s grand and glamorous entrance as Marie Antoinette was effective in grabbing our attention, but soon after the attention waned and unfortunately I found myself encountering less and less to enjoy about this show.

Fear Eater Theatre

Granted, this was a preview performance for this Melbourne season, and there were a few overt things that needed refinement, such as call cues and effective positioning of UV lights, but I must admit for me, the show itself failed to entertain on the level one would have expected.

The inclusion of guest dancer Briohny May not only felt completely out of context with what the rest of the show was about, but the three songs to which she danced felt like three too many. I found no charisma or charm in the performance personally, and was left puzzled as to why Anastasia has chosen to include the numbers in Fear-Eater Theatre.

Similarly, Anastasia’s performances appeared to be too focused on getting out the right moves, rather than enjoying herself on stage. Again however, I would like to put this down to preview-night nerves and an artist testing new routines.

Anastasia’s greatest strength lies in her songwriting; her ability to take an idea and spin it around until a different perspective is revealed is intriguing to witness. Her skill is evident and admirable in creating quirky and original songs.

I walked out of Fear-Eater Theatre not feeling I had been transported into an “extravagant fantasy realm” as stated in the show’s description, but that this was a performance that perhaps still needed more work and thought before being put on stage again.

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

Season: Until 14 September | 9:00pm, Sunday 8:00pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $22 Conc

Bookings: http://www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: Andrew Stano has NAILED IT!

A familiar cabaret face with an exciting new show

By Bradley Storer

Nailed It!

The atmosphere for the opening night of Nailed It!, a showcase of new musical work, was casual but friendly as performer Andrew Strano (previously seen as one half of cabaret duo The Bad Boys of Music Theatre) walked out onstage and sincerely thanked the audience for coming, and apologized for his co-writer Loclan Mackenzie-Spencer’s absence due to a conducting commitment for a certain blockbuster musical playing at the Regent.

The pair have constructed an array of fantastic original songs, mainly (at least in this showing) involved with relationships, love and growing up. They explore it both in a comedic sense, as in one song which brutally deconstructs the mating habits of bees and flowers, and in a sincere heart-felt manner – but every song manages to find a surprising (and usually hilarious) perspective. Take, for example, a pretty Jason Robert Brown-style ballad expounding the benefits of incest, or a wacky upbeat number comparing a love of babies to crack addiction. The highpoint of the show is a brilliantly written ballad about accidentally destroying a car with a twist that makes it genuinely heartbreaking.

Strano is a charming presence onstage, with a rich, warm vocal tone and a refreshingly quiet charisma that makes him easy to relate to and wins the audience over whenever he speaks. The banter and links between songs is deceptively playful and improvisational, which is a credit to director Casey Gould for making it seem simultaneously perfect and made up on the spot. The music stand in front of Strano physically blocked him from fully connecting with the audience during the opening number, but was used later for some effective choreography. Strano was accompanied on opening night by Robyn Womersley, whose playing throughout was assured and expressive.

Nailed It! is a delightful showcase for the talents of a wonderful new musical duo, and the wonderful work on display promises great things for their future which I look forward to seeing!

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place (access from Little Collins St)
Date: Wednesday 9th – Sunday 13th July
Time: Wednesday/Sunday 8pm, Thursday/Friday/Saturday 9pm
Price: All tickets $20, Preview $15
Booking: www.thebutterflyclub.com or at the door

REVIEW: Bethany Simons in RECEPTION

Witty and winning cabaret

By Myron My

Two-time Green Room Award-nominated writer/performer Bethany Simons is back on stage with her comedy cabaret Reception, in which she recalls some of the more interesting and memorable moments of her job as a receptionist at the Australian National Academy of Music.

Simons’ caricatures of the different customers, co-workers and people she comes across at work are brilliant, with ‘Gillian’ in particular being just hilarious. The brisk flow of plays on words and other puns is very clever, and laughs constantly filled the room in response to Simon’s witticisms.

Reception

There are a number of memorable songs throughout Reception, but the one that received most laughs – and my favourite – was the rap song, “I Can’t Help But Help”. The fabulous lyrics, along with its simple choreography and Simons’ hysterical facial expressions made it a definite crowd pleaser. Show opener “My Name is Bethany”, and “They Ring My Bell” also showcased Simons’ talent as an impressive all-round cabaret performer. My only quibble would be that her voice needed more volume at times during the songs, as there were moments when she was more audible speaking rather than singing.

Accompanying Simons on piano is Peter de Jager, whom she fortuitously met whilst working at the Australian National Academy of Music. A highly established and talented pianist, de Jager’s skills more than shine through with the variety of songs played.

As funny as Reception is, it is also a little frightening how much I was personally able to relate to Simons’ anecdotes and experiences from working in administration for an arts organisation: the constant mishearing of her name resulting in such variations as Destiny, Stephanie and Melody (Byron, Brian and Simon for me), the hazards of the “reply all” button (been there, done that), and the cursed affliction of “type fright”. Her stories are both striking and familiar, and I certainly could empathise.

Reception should definitely sit on your latest list of cabaret shows to see, especially if you want to be completely entertained by interesting stories, clever writing, great songs and lots of laughs – and who wouldn’t?

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (entry via Carson Place), Melbourne
Season: Until 4 May | Tues, Wed, Sun 8pm | Thurs, Fri, Sat 9pm.
Tickets: $25 Full | $22 Conc
Bookings: http://www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: Ruth Wilkin’s TRUE STORY

Truth is stranger than cabaret

By Myron My

Living up to its name, True Story begins with just that. Projected on the wall in the performance space are numerous headlines of strange events that have actually happened. Some are pop-culture references, some seem a little weird, and some are just plain bizarre, such as the man who jumped in a puddle and died (I really need to google this to find out how exactly)…

Cabaret performer and songwriter Ruth Wilkin is highly personable on stage and possesses a natural presence that garners your attention. She does very well with the different vocal demands of each song and really pushes the various emotions required from them, from sadness to joy and all the ones in between. However, I feel the lyrics to some songs are a letdown at times and seem a little awkward, including her piece about Tokyo Disneyland support for marriage equality.

True Story

Accompanying Wilkin on piano is Barney Reiter (Short + Sweet Cabaret 2012 and Suitcases, Baggage and Other Synonyms) and yet again, he does not disappoint. The blending in of some better-known tunes into the original music is seamless and the ease with which Reiter plays is always impressive to watch.

Wilkin does well to keep the pace interesting and fun throughout True Story. Between songs, she shares some anecdotes from her life or other interesting true stories, some of which are a little spooky. Wilkin also includes a few hilarious real customer review segments on random household items, such as a banana slicer that changes lives and a male hair-removal cream that should not be used on just any part of the body…

Yet, I would have liked to see some more linking within the show as a whole. The tales did not seem to flow from one to the other with some stories mentioned and then immediately forgotten abou,t and in other cases, a song being performed with the story behind it not being very clear.

I really like the concept of Wilkin’s show and she has a strong appealing voice and the skill and charisma to create entertaining shows. Despite its small flaws, True Story is an enjoyable hour of lighthearted cabaret fun.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 256 Collins St (entry via Carson Place), Melbourne
Season: Until 27 October | Sat 7:00pm, Sun 6:00pm
Tickets: $23 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: http://www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: Nick Hedger in CRAP I FOUND IN MY ROOM

Promising cabaret just needs a little tidying

By Christine Moffat

Crap I Found In My Room is a cabaret about a young man leaving home: or more precisely, a young man being asked nicely by his parents to move out.  Writer/performer Nick Hedger presents an idea that seems to be a very personal story, but gives it a wide appeal.  Many people have lived through the slightly traumatic move from childhood home into ‘the world’ – or have at least considered it…

Crap I Found In My RoomHedger has transformed the small theatre at The Butterfly Club into (this reviewer guesses) a stage version of his actual bedroom. The space (including the seats) is strewn with laundry, boxes, laptops etc, plus countless toys.  It looks like Gen-Y beat up Toys’R’Us.

These objects really gave the show a sense of place, but Hedger only interacted with a few objects.  To make ‘his stuff’ and the show’s title more meaningful perhaps he needed to use a few more of them more as props, and not just as set pieces.  The same feeling may have been achieved by having a few less objects visible and using more packing boxes: pulling things out of boxes suggests volume, without creating audience expectations that visible props be used.

However, a great moment of meaningful use of props was a funny segment involving a Magic 8 ball.  Hedger’s interaction with the audience and the Magic 8 ball really worked because cabaret is essentially about connection, and Hedger gave the audience something immediate and unique.

The writing is a great strength of this show. It is written as a combination of universal experience and personal testimony.  However, for this reviewer, overall the script feels a bit too obvious.  The mood changes and corresponding tone of songs are too defined when moving through a fairly straightforward narrative.  Mixing upbeat and sombre songs more elegantly and breaking out of the predictable flow would have given the finale a nice sense of discovery and surprise, as the finish felt a little soft and unresolved.  That being said, Hedger did still close the show with pathos and depth, suggesting real growth in his character.

Hedger has a great voice and in such a small venue can safely throw away his microphone.  Some of the songs involved rather too much prior music-theatre knowledge to truly get the jokes, but Hedger’s original songs and some of his pop interpretations were fabulous.  This show has a great premise, and Hedger has an engaging stage presence.  If you aren’t currently trying to gently shuck your own teenager from their room like an oyster from its shell, this show will definitely entertain you.  If you are, it’ll be great therapy!

Aug 1st – 4th, Fri-Sat 9pm / Sun 8pm

The Butterfly Club: Carson Place (just off Little Collins Street in CBD)

www.thebutterflyclub.com

A Magnetic Hand production

Directed by Jon Stephens