Tag: Paul Capsis

David M. Hawkins Presents CABARET: THE MUSICAL

Go like Elsie

By Bradley Storer

This production of Kander and Ebb’s Broadway classic Cabaret, opening in Melbourne after a sold-out Sydney season, left me with incredibly mixed feelings – a collection of fantastic elements that never quite coalesces into a satisfying whole. The set, itself a stylized stage surrounded by nightclub seating that neatly blends into the first few rows of the Athenaeum Theatre, suggests a blurring of the line between performance and reality but this is never capitalized on in the show itself. For a musical that should seem eerily relatable in our current political climate, it never becomes quite clear what message this production is trying to deliver.

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Australian cabaret and theatre legend Paul Capsis easily inhabits the role of the Emcee, here depicted like a grotesque ventriloquist’s dummy, and even though he spends most of the evening onstage watching and occasionally assisting in the action he feels oddly under-utilized – darting in and out of scenes, it feels as though we are never given the chance to savor and drink in Capsis’ unique stage presence.

As the central character Cliff Bradshaw, Jason Kos does a fine job in the first act of delineating the character’s stiffness melting away into sexual awakening but his performance became oddly disjointed and robotic towards the climax of the musical which robbed the more tragic moments of any poignancy. In contrast, Chelsea Gibb as Sally Bowles gives one of the best performances of her career, finding the desperation and insecurity lurking under the flightiness and affected ‘little girl’-ishness that Sally constantly projects as a way of escaping her problems. Even as she flees from reality and responsibility, you feel incredibly sorry for her.

The supporting cast as a whole are wonderful. Kate Fitzpatrick and John O’May as the elderly Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schulz had a lovely chemistry, making their ill-fated romance all the more heart-breaking. Deborak Krizak as Fraulein Kost brings her un-erring physical comic chops, and in the final scene even manages to bring a tragic dimension to the character’s fate. The ensemble execute Kelley Abbey’s choreography with ghoulish panache and deliver strong performances in small cameos throughout the show.

Sound issues plagued the entire performance I attended, with a few missed cues and microphones randomly switching off, which would be understandable on opening night – but immediately before she could start singing the title number of the show, Gibb’s microphone completely cut out. She was forced, with the loving insistence of the onstage Capsis and an off-stage yell from director Gale Edwards, to leave the stage completely mid-performance to have her microphone replaced. Capsis sweetly vamped onstage for time before he was given the cue to re-introduce Gibbs onstage, to overwhelming and supportive applause from the audience.  When Gibbs began her number again, the sound issues continued with wash-over from other mics backstage coming through – nevertheless, Gibbs rose above circumstance and knocked the ball out of the park with a performance of the titular song ‘Cabaret’ that not only demolished the hearts of the audience but, astonishingly, even managed to banish any memory of Liza Minnelli’s iconic rendition. It was one of the most electrifying moments I’ve ever experienced in the theatre, and generated a mid-show (and well-deserved) standing ovation.

While the production itself does not always rise to meet such lofty standards, theatre-goers should rush to see this performance for the ages!

Venue: Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne

Dates: 27th April – 20th May

Times: Monday – Saturday 7:30pm, Matinees Wednesday 1pm Saturday 2pm

Tickets: ticketek.com.au, Ticketek outlets or at the venue.

Image by John McCrae

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Paul Capsis in RESIDENT ALIEN

Superb sojourn in the life of a legend

By Joana Simmons

“If I have any talent at all, it is not for doing but for being.”

Resident Alien, presented by Cameron Lukey, is a thought-provoking look at English writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp. The seasoned and critically-acclaimed Paul Capsis embodies this textured effeminate character and has the audience swept up as he recounts stories and moments from his fascinating life.

Resident Alien Photo Credit Sarah Walker.jpg

Quentin Crisp was a self-described flamboyant homosexual.  He’s a man who defied convention by criticising Gay liberation and Diana, Princess of Wales. At a time when homosexuality was illegal, Crisp remained true to himself and expressed himself by dying his long hair lavender, wearing nail polish, and dressing in an often androgynous style. Despite the ridicule and violence often directed toward him, Crisp carried on, meeting hostility with wit. When he tried to join the army with the outbreak of World War he was rejected by the medical board, who determined that he was suffering from sexual perversion.  Instead, Crisp remained in London and entertained the American GIs, whose friendliness inculcated a love for Americans and he moved to Manhattan in 1981, when he was 72 years old. Crisp continued to tour, write, and lecture; including instructions on how to live life with style and the importance of manners.

The play by Tim Fountain picks up in Quentin’s dusty single-room Manhattan apartment, littered with books and dirty plates, where Crisp speaks to the audience as he prepares to be visited by Mr Brown and Mr Black.  His monologue moves naturally and conversationally through a plethora of opinions and anecdotes, from the mundane to the ones that strike a chord in your heart and get your brain spinning. Paul Capsis is outstanding in this role. Each single look and mannerism is captivating and his skillful delivery of the wordy and lengthy script is astonishing.

Director Gary Abrahams has helped construct a theatre piece that gives you more than something to sink your teeth into- it’s a piece of theatre that needs to sink in. To be able to stage one man’s story and views and have it make us reflect on our own whilst still being entertaining is true craftsmanship. Romaine Harper’s costume and set design gives immediate depth and background to this interesting person as the Fortyfivedownstairs performance space is transformed into Crisp’s apartment, cleverly lit by lighting designer Rob Sowinski and all accompanied by Daniel Nixon’s sound design.  You can tell the production is high-calibre and many hours have been spent on tying everything into one professional and glamorous bow.

Sometimes we go to the theatre to laugh, sometimes we go to cry, sometimes we go to forget about our own lives and live in a different world for a moment in time. Resident Alien gives us all these things. It’s remarkable, it’s memorable and it’s still got me reflecting now. If you go to the theatre and you enjoyed yourself, that’s great. If you go to the theatre and it makes you question yourself, that’s art.  Congratulations to all the creatives involved for producing such a high-class production.

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, CBD

Season:Until June 12 2016

Bookings: http://www.fortyfivedownstairs.com/wp2016/event/resident-alien/2016-05-25/

Image by Sarah Walker

REVIEW: Paul Capsis in LITTLE BIRD

Fascinating fable enchants all

By Bradley Storer

Australian cabaret and musical theatre star Paul Capsis comes to Melbourne with Little Bird, a dark modern fairytale by playwright Nicki Bloom, with music and songs by Cameron Goodall and Quentin Grant.

Little Bird

Little Bird tells the story of a young boy named Wren, magically conceived by the fall of feather on a winter’s day, and his journey to find a missing parent as well as discover his own identity. Bloom’s writing thrillingly mines a vein of moral and sexual ambiguity to create a bewitching narrative that draws questions of gender, love and the essential idea of the self.

The show works best when it stays within the realm of the fantastical and fey – the first section of the show, interwoven with the voice of a mysterious and bird-like narrator, is intensely engaging in its sparse poetical prose that draws on all the tropes of fairy tales while twisting and subverting them in thrilling new ways. When the tale reaches a metropolitan city and touches on the story of a cross-dressing woodcutter, the narrative takes a turn into punk rock territory, reminiscent of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which although entertaining jars against the overall tone of the show in a way that makes it far less compelling.

Capsis himself is never less than completely spell-binding, his use of body and voice a masterclass in story-telling, summoning up all the characters with a simple shift in posture and voice while always maintaining the clarity of Wren’s own central development and journey reacting against these other characters. His androgynous rock-star charisma is used to great effect at various points, roaring glam-rock ballads that recall the work of Queen and David Bowie along with scintillating gypsy rhythms, but always finding the deep vulnerability and sadness of Wren to tear-inducing effect. The simple but surprisingly versatile set and incredibly nuanced lighting provided by Geoff Cobham must also be praised, responding to the mood and rhythm of the story in ways that heighten the drama and atmosphere invaluably.

This rich, luscious fable starring one of our best country’s best performers is truly an event not to be missed, drawing us into a dream-like, magical (but on some level, still achingly real) landscape that leaves the audience with the visceral and satisfying joy of a story well told.

Venue: Playhouse, The Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda Rd
Time: 8pm, 5pm Tuesday February 1st
Dates: 29th January – 4th February
Price: $49 Premium, $39 A-Reserve, $30 Under 30’s, Concession also available.
Bookings: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au, 1300 182 183, at the box office.

EVENT: The Wheeler Centre Presents A BLUSH OF BOYS

Growing up male

By Myron My

I recently had the pleasure of experiencing my first-ever event at The Wheeler Centre. It’s been somewhere I’ve wanted to go for a long time, but for whatever reason, it had never happened. So on Wednesday evening, I attended A Blush of Boys, a talk presented as part of a series of events in their Men Overboard program, which explores masculinity and what ‘makes a man’.

A Blush of Boys

A Blush of Boys looked at experiences of masculinity through two generations of males: two men in their 50s, actor and performer Paul Capsis and author Tony Birch, and two boys aged eleven and ten respectively from St Martins Youth Arts Centre, Will Beattie and Baptise Emery.

The (slightly) older males began with Capsis discussing his childhood desire to be a girl and Tony Birch talking about his lack of male role models growing up. What ultimately emerged from all four speakers though was nothing groundbreaking; boys still get picked on for not being into sports and showing interests in something other than ‘traditional’ male-oriented activities, but it’s not often you get to hear such thoughts and frustrations from ten and eleven year-olds so clearly and honestly. Sure there were some nerves evident for the boys, but not many people would be comfortable talking to a roomful of strangers about their insecurities and emotions now, let alone when they were so young.

Presenter Maxine McKew did well in keeping the proceedings on track and raised a few key issues about masculinity in recent news, including Ian Thorpe’s recent announcement of his sexuality and Tony Abbott’s comments praising the Japanese submariners who attacked Sydney Harbour in 1942 for their “skill and honour” to Japanese leader Shinzo Abe. Very different topics but all opening out contemporary ideas about what being masculine is and how it is viewed and valued.

A Blush of Boys was an enjoyable and insightful look into the representative minds of two generations on the expectations and pressures they must deal and have dealt with, when faced with defining their own masculinity. Sadly these talks are for one night only at The Wheeler Centre but there is always something interesting happening there that is worth checking out.

Men Overboard: A Blush of Boys took place at The Wheeler Centre on Wednesday 16 July.

REVIEW: Finucane and Smith with GLORY BOX: PARADISE

Glorious performances

By Myron My

The highly revered Finucane & Smith have returned to fortyfivedownstairs with their subversive and seductive show Glory Box: Paradise that brings together a myriad of extremely talented women for a variety of acts, from circus to dance to cabaret performance, in a non-stop evening of evocative entertainment.

Glory Box Paradise Image by Jodie Hutchinson

Under the creative direction of Jackie Smith, Moira Finucane soon shows us why she has been so successful over the years, with sell-out seasons around the world for almost a decade. Her performance of ‘A Sunny Afternoon’ was highly emotional whereby, with no spoken word beyond the lyrics, she made a moving statement about our notions of beauty in society. When paired with U2’s hit ‘With or Without You’, the room was frozen in place with the audience deep in contemplation, having been left to our own devices to determine the underscored meaning.

Having experienced British cabaret star Ursula Martinez four years ago in London I was very excited to be seeing her again and I was not disappointed. Also sometimes referred to as the Red Hanky Lady, Martinez’s ‘Hanky Panky’ is always going to be a crowd favourite. Her collaborations with Guinness World Record hoola hooper Jess Love were highly entertaining and the final reveal of ‘Quick Change Sex Change’ proved that with a show like this, we can always expect the unexpected.

It’s an evening of no lulls or disappointments with strong performances by Holly Durant, Lily Paskas and Yumi Umiumare throughout, as well as a few songs by Yana Alana fresh from her Melbourne Cabaret Festival season. There are also a number of special guests joining these remarkable women throughout the season including Rhonda Burchmore and Paul Capsis.

There is a lot of nudity in Glory Box: Paradise but I found it to be quite liberating and affirming, even as a male, to see all these women being nude, or close to, on stage and not being embarrassed or making a big deal about it. There is a strong underlying message in this show regarding what it means to be a beautiful woman, in that all women are beautiful and should never be ashamed of their bodies – a sentiment you hear often but rarely witness being enacted.

In short, you will laugh, you will be inspired, you will think, and things will get messy – especially if you are sitting in the front few rows – but that’s all part of the fun and celebration of Finucane & Smith’s Glory Box: Paradise.

Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Season: Until 11 August | Thurs 7:00pm, Fri-Sat 7:oopm and 9:30pm, Sun 5:30pm

Tickets: From $25 – $88.88

Bookings: http://www.fortyfivedownstairs.com/events or 9662 9966

Starry Nights: ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL June 2011

The countdown is over as internationally-acclaimed cabaret blasts off in Adelaide!

Adelaide Cabaret Festival opens this week, as their fabulous iconic Amazonian queen of cabaret stands surrounded by stars and toasting the conquering of new worlds and the triumph of cabaret reaching universal audiences.

Although Adelaide Cabaret Festival has continued to make a place for itself at an international level, and to attract an exciting calibre of overseas artists, it is Australia’s own Olivia Newton-John is the headliner for this year’s program.

Another towering superwoman in the entertainment industry, Newton-John is offering a musical retrospective of her fabulous career, accompanied by the Adelaide Arts Orchestra.

Cabaret and music theatre fans will be perhaps even more thrilled to hear New York-cabaret king Michael Feinstein will be closing this year’s festival with the Australian premiere of the show created from his famous Sinatra project.

In addition, the legendary Chita Rivera will be here on our shores to share some glorious music and moments from her illustrious life on Broadway.

But perhaps the most exciting performances to watch out for are our own upcoming and established local talent.  

Rhonda Burchmore, Simon Burke and Rachel Beck for example, are providing some entertaining showcases in music theatre and jazz.

But for the most innovative, edgy and enticing examples of what Australia is so uniquely exploring with the cabaret genre, don’t miss checking out the devasting talent of Paul Capsis, the sumptuous voice of Ali McGregor, and the sophisticated work of Robyn Archer for starters.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs from June 10-25 2011, and you can read about the stars, and book for all these shows and more on their website.

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.