Tag: original songs

Review: KARIN DANGER’s Hot Box

Making up as she goes – with make up!

By Jessica Cornish

Last night I journeyed to The Butterfly Club at its new inner city location to – er – enter into Karin Danger’s Hot Box… The award-winning musical comedian presented a mix of cleverly written songs and banter throughout the 50 minute cabaret performance for MICF.

Hot Box

Karin has a terrific voice, and belted out some impressive notes with great force and control. Her original songs were animated and well-presented, and some of the lyrics were both clever and intriguing.

However, her dialogue between the musical numbers unfortunately seemed to fall flat most of the time. To be honest, I’m not really sure what the show was about. Her banter was rather confusing and jumped from idea to idea, whilst she sporadically smeared on another layer of makeup, or completed one of many costume changes.

That said, there was definitely a strange audience dynamic for her performance last night. The audience on one side of the room sat almost in silence throughout the entire show, whilst three or four people howled with laughter throughout the evening on the other side of the divide. Unfortunately I was on the quieter side of the room that didn’t quite seem to get the night.

Karin Danger was accompanied throughout by excellent pianist Cameron Thomas. Initially he appeared to be more like the backing track rather than a part of the performance; however he turned out to be quite a colourful character, providing the show with some extra energy.

Reflecting on this festival show, I appreciate that the cabaret comedy of Hot Box is a safe place where Karin can and others are invited to laugh at themselves. Like her show itself, it was clearly when performing her witty songs Karin was most comfortable with herself and us, and could be happy in her own skin – despite the odd imperfection here and there.

When:  April 09- 21, Tue-Wed 8pm, Thu-Sat 9pm, Sun 8pm

Where: The Butterfly Club, Carson Place (Off Little Collins St) CBD

Cost: Full $23 & Conc $20

Booking: Ticketmaster, at the venue 9690 2000, thebutterflyclub.com, at the door

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REVIEW: Geraldine Quinn is STRANGER

Powerhouse voice and delightfully mysterious comedy

By Bradley Storer

A dark-clad figure silently glided into the room, gazing entranced at the audience before taking a seat beside the people in the second row. A powerful voice emerged from beneath the veils, serenading us with how fascinating we humans are. This mysterious and alluring image drew us into the world of Geraldine Quinn’s wonderful Melbourne International Comedy Festival show Stranger from the very start, Quinn keeping the moment from becoming too self-indulgent with some well-timed silliness.

Geraldine Quinn

The veils soon came off to reveal some amazing Bowie-influenced spandex along with the true nature of the show. Quinn’s character, an enigmatic but bright-eyed outsider from worlds unknown, regales us with her captivation with human beings and the myriad ways they relate and interact with each other.

Songs range from an amusing look at the ambiguous joys of family, how to be a half-assed ‘best friend’ and the similarities of love to an immuno-virus. Quinn combines abundant song-writing talent with a stunning voice, her commanding vocals embracing a spectrum ranging from rock goddess to a light-opera diva.

My one criticism would be that the beginning of the show left me a little confused about who Quinn’s character actually was (and perhaps this aspect needs some strengthening), but this became clearer as the show went on. The audience is treated (along with Quinn’s signature intense eye contact and hilariously forceful choreography) to this strange figure’s journey from an outsider observing the foibles of humanity to a willing actor in the drama of the human condition.

A sequence in which the ‘stranger’ unknowingly opened herself up to all of humanity’s inner voices combined heart-breaking confusion with wide-eyed wonder in a way that was simultaneously poignant and beautiful. An engaging hour of comedy/cabaret that both amuses and stimulates the mind!

DATES: 28th March – 21 April

TIME: 8:15 (7:15 Sun)

VENUE: Trades Hall, Cnr of Lygon & Victoria St, Carlton

TICKETS: $22, Conc $18, Group (8+) $18, Laugh Pack $18, Tightarse Tuesday $15

BOOKING: www.ticketmaster.com.au 1300 660 013, www.comedyfestival.com.au , Melbourne Town Hall Box Office or Trades Hall Box Office.

Review: KROWS BAR KABARET Presents NEWS FLASHERS

A bold satirical effort leaves little breathing space

By Myron My

In the revitalised Weimar-style political kabaret News Flashers, the audience are treated to a whirlwind of varied Australian issues and the way the media reports these through the use of ‘televised’ news reports, song and with the aid of sock puppets.

A lot of thought has gone into the production of News Flashers, and it is certainly a delight on the eyes. Old newspapers form the basis of the costumes, including trousers, shirts, hats, bow ties and a few other surprises along the way.

The various ways in which the “televisions” are used throughout the show is quite creative and allows for radically different set-ups to take over on stage. The cast makes excellent use of the performance area and really takes ownership of every available space.

The performers (Caitlin Brown, Ezekiel Ox, Fletcher Dyson, Maurial Spearim and Sophie Kinston) worked very well together and there was some strong rapport and high energy levels but as the title suggests, the show was a bit frenetic. Unfortunately it was so fast that I found myself constantly trying to catch up with what was happening.

Many topical issues are covered throughout the show including boat people, Gina Rinehart and the stolen generation but the surface is only ever skimmed with any of them. I was left feeling confused with a few of the recurring references and felt they were some sort of in-joke I was not privy to.

The songs by creator Ella Filar were composed well and the instruments used were chosen carefully and specifically. The voices of the performers highlighted each individual’s vocal strengths and it was great to see them excel here. However, the songs may have been a little short, for just as I understood what they were singing about, they were finished and we immediately moved on.

News Flashers describes itself as ‘political, vulgar, artistic, grotesque, sexy and sublime’, and successfully achieves its claims, but perhaps if the content had been narrowed down and the performance not been so exceptionally fast-paced, it might have been a little more enjoyable.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne

Season: Until 11 November | 8:00pm, Wed, Sun 9:00pm

Tickets: $23 Full | $20 Concession

Bookings: http://thebutterflyclub.com/shows

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: ZULEI KHAN in Triage!

Unlikely hospital comedy an hilarious success

By Meg Richardson

Hospital emergency department. Generally speaking, these three words don’t make you want to laugh, sing or even smile. And nurses? They don’t generally seem overly theatrical. However, this clinical setting is exactly where Zulei Khan feels most at home.

In her one-woman comedy cabaret, Khan, a registered division 1 triage nurse, takes the audience through the day-to-day lives and tribulations of those working in this challenging industry.

Traige! focuses on the emotional journey of Khan’s career. The audience is exposed to her outright honesty about the job that has engulfed her life. She addresses her frustration with self-diagnosing patients, addiction junkies and excessively arrogant doctors the best way she knows how- by belting out some big show tunes.

With a well-balanced mix of original numbers and re-worked classics, Khan’s voice is a joy to listen to. Her delivery of dialogue is, at times, a bit clumsy but somehow, this adds to the personality of the piece.

The intimate setting of The Butterfly Club also allows Khan to interact with the audience with great ease. She is not afraid to talk to them (or ask male members of the audience uncomfortable questions about certain ‘female’ medical instruments!).

The affinity she establishes with the audience very early in the show also allows her to really evoke emotions within them when she expresses some very personal challenges she has faced with a tear-jerking, delicate ballad.

Overall, Zulei Khan gives a laugh-out-loud insight into the only life she has ever known. This knowledge has allowed her to compile a show that is entirely entertaining from beginning to end.

Although she has made a successful career saving people’s lives, I only hope she continues to delight patients and audiences alike – Zulei Khan belongs on the stage.

If only every visit to the emergency room could be so entertaining.

Where: The Butterfly Club

When: Tuesday 19th – Sunday 24th June

Time: 8pm (Tue, Wed, Sun) 9pm (Thu, Fri, Sat)

Tickets: Adult $23, Concession $20, Groups (8 or more) $18

Review: JO LOTH in Mind Games

Intense, evocative – and enlightening…

By Bradley Storer

To the straining sound of discordant guitar, a desperate woman trapped in material resembling a strait-jacket plunges through the performance space of The Butterfly Club. Before our eyes this lost soul escapes her confinement, and with the simple addition of a blonde wig transforms into the domineering Dr Jolene Mindtrick who guides us through the first steps on this journey – the mind plays tricks, she tells us, and we must learn to control it.

Performer Jo Loth, who emerges immediately after the appearance of Dr Mindtrick to speak directly to the audience, has crafted a confronting cabaret work based on her interviews with sufferers of mental illnesses like depression and bipolar disorder. It is also partly based on Loth’s own experiences, she openly admits at the beginning of the evening. 

A cavalcade of characters and their experiences and ways of coping with their disorders are introduced, each one explored in heart-breakingly realistic fashion through a variety of different original songs. The wide range of styles which appear, including opera, country and rap, seem particularly appropriate as different expressions of the broad spectrum of psychotic illness.

This is cabaret in its most intimate form, as Loth delves into the most and delicate aspects of the human psyche. Although the show remains, on the whole, light-hearted, it is not a show which elicits deep belly laughs from what it depicts: we are placed directly into the mindset of someone teetering close to the edge of complete breakdown or suicide. When Loth enacts parts of her own struggle with depression onstage, it feels like a precious gift is being given to the audience – we are not merely being told what it is like to suffer mental illness, but are being shown and made to experience this landscape of despair directly.

Loth is an incredibly skilled and committed performer, swapping between personas at a moment’s notice and bringing each character to life with rich physicality and a distinctive vocal quality. Her accompanist Damien Slingsby is a wonder, accompanying both on piano and electric guitar, expertly beat-boxing and even singing a song of his own which touches the heart with its simplicity and sincere emotion.

The reoccuring spectre of Dr Mindtrick, a symbol of the repression and denial which prevents sufferers from reaching out and seeking help for their pain, is a sharp and powerful reminder of the show’s primary message: the hidden and devastating pain of mental illness can only begin to heal if we acknowledge its existence. Mind Games, in bringing that message to light, is incredibly moving and ultimately uplifting.

Date: Thurs 7th to Sun 10th June
Time: Thurs to Sat at 7pm, Sun at 6pm
Ticket price:$23/$20 conc/$18 group

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: Jenny Wynter in AN UNEXPECTED VARIETY SHOW

Frank and funny, with an unforgettable finale

By Bradley Storer

Entering in complete darkness Jenny Wynter begins her cabaret, An Unexpected Variety Show, exhorting her audience to reflect in the dark on their own lives and choices, before launching into the opening song bearing the same title as the show, marvelling at the many twists and turns one life can take.

This autobiographical show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival takes us on a tour of episodes of Wynter’s life, broken up with a wide stylistic range of original songs.

The main theme is the attempt to reconcile youthful dreams of fame and success with the responsibilities of adulthood. There are hilarious numbers about youthful affairs, mother/daughter relationships, and married life all interspersed with costumes changes and (at one inspired moment) puppetry.

While always maintaining a mercurial atmosphere, Wynter does not shy from quite confronting material even from the beginning, touching on her experiences as a young mother, the death of a close family member as a child, and the struggle to balance family life and life as a performer.

Wynter gives off the brassiness and bravado of a veteran showgirl, but with the mature vulnerability of one for whom the show has ended years before. While not always strong vocally, she has the distinct features and versatile singing voice of a classic character actress, ably jumping from a throaty and voluptuous saloon song to a Tina Turner-style soul number and even rapping with aplomb.

While it may not be not mind-blowing, Wynter is a charming performer and has written a show with a big heart and many beautiful moments throughout, in particular one gorgeous and touching segment where Wynter harmonizes with the voice of her own mother (herself a singer), with the finale leaving a smile which is impossible to erase.

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne

Dates: April 10th – 22nd

Time: Tuesday/Wednesday/Sunday 6pm, Thursday/Friday/Saturday 7pm

Tickets: At The Butterfly Club, or online at www.thebutterflyclub.com

Full $27
Concession $24
Group (8 or more) $23
Tightarse Tuesday $15