Tag: Queenie Van de Zandt

REVIEW: Twisted Broadway 2015

“Broadway in a Brand-New Key”

By Bradley Storer

Oz Showbiz Cares/Equity Fights AIDS brought together a stunning ensemble of Australian music-theatre talents last night for Twisted Broadway, a gender-bending re-interpretation of musical theatre’s greatest hits, to raise money for research and developmental programs for people living with HIV/AIDS. The sense of community and giving was palpable, all the performers and creative team donating their time and energy – even the set for the show was donated by The Production Company‘s current show Nice Work if You Can Get It.

2015 Twisted Broadway Hosts_Photo by Kayzar Bhathawalla

Kate Ceberano, one of the evening’s hosts, began the show as a literal MC – the classic character from Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret, spiritedly singing ‘Wilkommen’ and showing some impressive high kicks as she introduced us to the ‘twisted’ male and female ensembles and the Twisted Broadway orchestra, under the direction of James Simpson. She was followed by the glorious tenors of Blake Bowden and Josh Piterman, both bringing lead man charisma to the Jekyll and Hyde duet ‘In His Eyes’, before fellow host Eddie Perfect joined Ceberano onstage to introduce the evening officially.

The first half of the show was dedicated mainly to ensemble numbers, highlights including a cheeky ‘Gee Officer Krupke’ by the female ensemble of West Side Story, a campy male version of ‘Make Him Mine’ by Ed Grey, Alex Given and Drew Weston, a bevy of showgirls accompanying Melissa Langton as she charmingly crooned ‘All I Care About is Love’, a trio of male Lion King ensemblists bringing Motown realness in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ all the way to Nathan Pinnell leading the ensemble of Anything Goes in a joyous ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’. A few choice solo performances were dotted throughout, Akina Edmonds‘ soulful take on the Schwartz classic ‘Lost in the Wilderness’ standing out in particular.

After a fantastic ensemble opening of ‘On Broadway’ choreographed by Michael Ralph, the second act brought spectacular solos from a variety of performers. Rob Mills hilariously sent himself up in a re-vamped version of the audition sequence ‘Climbing Uphill’ from The Last Five Years, Tom Sharah stole the show with his ‘Don’t Rain on my Parade’, and Queenie van de Zandt brought the audience to their feet in a roof-raising ‘What Kind of a Fool Am I?’. Perfect debuted a charming song from his unseen musical version of the classic Australian film Muriel’s Wedding with help from Casey Bennetto, and the male ensemble delivered a testosterone-charged ‘Be Italian’ led by Mike Snell before Josie Lane closed the evening with a thunderous ‘Goodbye’.

Producers Michael Benge and Kate MacDonald informed the audience at the end of the show that over $50,000 had been raised for Oz Show Business Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, making a perfect end to this marvellous night of music theatre all done in the name of a good cause.

Venue: State Theatre, Arts Centre, 100 St Kilda, Melbourne.
Date: 17th August, 2015
Time: 8pm

http://www.twistedbroadway.com.au/

Image by Kayzar Bhathawalla
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REVIEW: Victorian Opera’s INTO THE WOODS

Stunning cast in superb production

By Adam Tonking

Into The Woods is admittedly one of my favourite musicals. With the movie adaptation due out at the end of the year, now is the perfect opportunity to see Stephen Sondheim’s masterful exploration of fairy tales in all its original glory, and fortunately, Victorian Opera have staged an immensely enjoyable production of this wonderful show.

Victorian Opera 2014 - Into the Woods © Jeff Busby

The amazing cast deftly handle all of Sondheim’s tricky score and dense lyrics. Truly impressive, in that even at its most tongue-twisting, not a single syllable was lost on the audience, allowing us to enjoy every witty line and every beautifully crafted lyric. Sondheim writes wonderful characters for women, the three main ones in Into The Woods being The Baker’s Wife, The Witch, and Cinderella , and the three actresses in these roles were more than up to the task.

Christina O’Neill was perfect as The Baker’s Wife, never missing a single moment in the character’s development, bringing energy to some of the weaker spoken scenes, and providing blessed relief in the challenging, exposition-heavy second act with her stunning rendition of “Moments In The Woods.” Queenie van de Zandt was in usual glorious form as The Witch, bringing an engaging pragmatism to the role’s more obvious malice, allowing a clearer understanding of the character. Her skilled handling of The Witch’s rap was awe-inspiring, but she was truly breathtaking in my favourite song “Last Midnight.” Lucy Maunder as Cinderella was spectacular, and her duets with O’Neill were some of the most touching of the night. Among the men, particular praise should go to John Diedrich as the Mysterious Man for bringing one of the weakest characters and a terribly awkward part to life.

Clearly I cannot lavish enough praise on Victorian Opera’s Into The Woods. This is simply a magnificent production of a gorgeous show. Don’t miss your chance to see it. It’s playing from now until Saturday 26 July at the Arts Centre in Melbourne. Book tickets at www.victorianopera.com.au or by calling 1300 182 183.

REVIEW: Live on Stage in Melbourne – KING KONG

You’ve never seen anything like this…

By Kim Edwards

Bold, breath-taking – and BIG.

King Kong

King Kong Live on Stage is a wildly ambitious and theatrically daring production that crashes through musical conventions and scales special-effects heights, but has not yet escaped being a rather lumbering and cumbersome beast of a show. However, this production is still in its infancy and therefore evolving, and meanwhile the world premiere now showing at the Regent already has theatre-goers thrilling, puzzling, and debating its merits furiously.

The famous (and admittedly thin storyline) has been reimagined for the stage in an extraordinary and contrary way. The songs are the collected efforts of contemporary artists such as Sarah McLachlan and 3D from Massive Attack: at its most successful, the music forms an exciting and unusual soundtrack that is a distinct relief after the formulaic and expositional offerings of some other musicals. At other times however, songs are jarring and uneven with their musical anachronisms and bland lyrics. The set and backdrop are primarily a dynamic blur of lighting and video effects: at its best in the scenes emulating grainy film footage, the impact is utterly spectacular, from the dance of the Skull Island locals and the moonrise lullaby, to the final battle atop the Empire State building. At its worse however, the lingering impression is of Atari video games, and b-grade music videos.

Esther Hannaford as heroine Ann Darrow is an impressively feisty and funny leading lady, and visually and vocally beautiful. The film director and plot catalyst Denham (Adam Lyon) is full of pizzazz, but has not quite settled into character or singing style securely yet. Chris Ryan is pleasant as love-interest Jack Driscoll, while Queenie Van de Zandt sings the hell out of the incomprehensible role of Cassandra.

But then there is Harley Durst, Danny Miller and Jacob Williams, and Lincoln Barros, James Brown, Adam David, Josh Feldschuh, Brett Franzi, Nathan Jones, Nathan Kell, Pussell Leonard, Brent Osborne, Troy Phillips, Mike Snow, Maxwell Trengrove and Tayo Wilson. Their collaborative emoting, movement and acting was inexpressibly moving and mesmerising – from their first moment on stage, the audience involuntarily drew breath, and they commanded our rapt attention and unstinting admiration until the very end. No – they are not the (excellent) ensemble in this production. These gentleman are the puppeteers that give life to Kong, and they and he are the unequivocal stars of the show.

King Kong Live on Stage provides just that: the sense of real awe and amazement at  what we see when it comes to the breathing, bellowing believability of Kong himself is worth every cent of the ticket price. He and his creators are a united marvel, and it is simply a bonus that the blockbuster musical is also being unleashed from its primal predictable bonds here, and let loose afresh (albeit still chaotically) into the theatre world.

Go for this – King Kong is wonder-full.

http://kingkongliveonstage.com/show-information/

Review: THE BEST (AND WORST) of Queenie van de Zandt

A loveable and laughable performance

By Kate Boston-Smith

Queenie van de Zandt is a vocal powerhouse filled with warmth and goodwill who knows how to laugh, especially at herself.  Her 2011 Melbourne Cabaret Festival show The Best (and Worst) of Queenie van de Zandt is a fantastic stroll down memory lane. 

Though we, the audience, don’t know these memories firsthand, van de Zandt acknowledges her non-celebrity and celebrates it with gusto and humor using photos, promotional material and personal keepsakes.

With 22 years in the business she has a kaleidoscope of stories to share.  That said, this is not a show written to gloat or big-note (though she has the vocal strength do so should she wish). No, this is a story about her journey; her ups, downs, mistakes and ultimately her passion for singing and performing.  It is like she takes the audience by the hand into the living room for a cup of tea at an intimate family gathering, where she shares pictures, hilarious horror stories and laughter.

Van de Zandt is welcoming and generous, playful and cheeky.  Her song choice displays her incredible, self-taught, vocal ability. Her inspiring song choices include the likes of ABBA, Olivia Newton-John and Joni Mitchell to name a few. 

She commands the stage, yet allows for interaction, sharing the spotlight with her adoring audience.

As she playfully poked fun at her lack of notoriety, I couldn’t help but empathise.  Not knowing much about her before I walked into the show, I can honestly say I left feeling like an old-friend; such is the connection she has with us.

If you are looking for a beautiful, honest show about joy, heartache and renewal all told with warmth and humor then this is the cabaret for you.

Performed by Queenie van de Zandt with Lucy Bermingham accompanying.

Tonight & Sunday 24 July,  8.15pm

$40 / $37

The Incubator, Auspicious Arts,

228 Bank Street, South Melbourne

MELBOURNE CABARET FESTIVAL 2011: Ticket Sales Are Booming!

100 performers, 78 performances, 7 venues – and only 6 nights!

It’s now only a few days until the non-stop cabaret begins, and all 32 shows for the second annual Melbourne Cabaret Festival (Tue July 19- Sun 24) are selling out once again.

This year’s program includes a particularly impressive line-up of our own Melbourne favourites, renowned national artists, and some surprise international performers all coming together to historic South Melbourne for one week of outstanding and outrageous entertainment.

From the fun and frivolity with comedy cabaret, music theatre, vaudeville and New-York-style, to the clever and edgy explorations of vaudeville, burlesque, queer shows and dark cabaret, there’s something different, delightful, delicious and decadent for every taste.

So what’s our pick of the fest? Got to admit, we’re pretty excited about The Beautiful Losers back to horrify audiences with song and satire, the intriguing Filthy Secrets from the disturbing mind of Karin Muiznieks, and the triumphant festival return of the glamorous and glorious Petticoat Soiree.

Also worth watching out for will be Le Gateau Chocolat, Queenie Van de Zandt, Jon Jackson, Emma Dean, The Jane Austen Argument, Tina Del Twist, Dolly Diamond, and Emma Clair Ford, along with a host of upcoming cabaret stars, plenty of quirky, creepy or hilarious new shows, and some special events such as Trevor Jones’ Piano Bar and the best of Short+Sweet Cabaret.

Tickets start from just $15 at www.melbournecabaret.com where you can also find all the show details to pique your patronage, because with only six days to see the all best cabaret in town, you’ll need to book fast!