Tag: Rowland Brache


More concert that cabaret, but an appealing performance

By Maxine Montegomery

“From Both Sides Now” – the Joni Mitchell song title in itself evokes thoughts of inner regret and struggles of the heart.

Grant Newsome’s debut show at The Butterfly Club takes its title from this very song, and sets up an expectation for the audience that they will be taken on an emotional journey with the performer.

Newsome has made a very bold choice in starting the show with Mitchell’s signature song. At the top of a show, we, the audience, know nothing about the person who stands before us – we have no background, no insight to the individual to be able to see the reality of the lyrics as reflected in their own experience. I felt that I was seeing the ‘public face’ of Newsome, rather than seeing the man himself. When he encored the number at the end of the night, he certainly gave the lyrics more candour. The hour-long show was closer in format to concert than solo cabaret, and I couldn’t help but wonder just how much more pathos the song may have carried had Newsome employed his own version of cabaret rhetoric to take the audience into his confidence and bring all the songs together as a whole.

Newsome presented a range of songs that trace the geography of his career, complemented by some of his personal favourites. The audience showed particular appreciation for “Sway”, and a very funky, swung rendition of Doris Day’s “Secret Love”. A fabulous performance of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” was heightened by the tremendous work of Newsome’s backing duo – Rowland Braché on piano and Rob Nicholls on double bass. Nicholls’ percussive use of the body of the bass during the Queen number may have been quite simple in execution, but it was a delight to watch and hear. Newsome introduced me (and the rest of the crowd) to a gem of a song called “Nathalie” by Gilbert Bécaud. It was in his delivery of the song that he had me fully engaged, for his telling of the story of the piece was very affecting – as he got caught up in the tale, so did I. “Nathalie” was followed by a tri-language rendition of “What Now, My Love?”. At this point in the night, he seemed to relax somewhat and a little of the showman peeled away, letting us see more of Newsome’s true self.

I would like to see Newsome use his voice to the extent of his technical abilities – he clearly has the ability to produce sustained vocal line, and I wish we had heard more of that from him. I can understand the singer wanting to show off his full vocal range by adding an extended melismatic passage to the end of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, but to then break the title word of the song due to the length of the custom-written phrase was disappointing to hear.

A born showman, Newsome looked the part in his golden-hued suit, and his infectious smile certainly completed the picture. It is very easy to see just how at home he would have been on stage at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.   I have no doubt that he has a whole range of experiences in his life which could be translated into a host of solo cabaret shows in the more intimate and personal sense of the genre suitable for a more intimate venue, and I look forward to seeing what he next creates.

From Both Side Now has its final showing at The Butterfly Club on Sunday May 6th at 6pm. For tickets, visit www.thebutterflyclub.com.

Review: MEL TRICKEY in Happiness 101

Do something that makes you happy!

By Adam Tonking

Happiness 101: Laughter is the Best Pseudo-Science! introduces us to esteemed academic Professor Geraldine Gravis, as played by Mel Trickey, who is here to lecture us on happiness, what it is and how to achieve it as proven through her scientific methods.

Not everything goes according to plan as her logic unravels and her inner yearnings reveal themselves, all for the entertainment of the audience.

This show is a perfect example of brilliantly-crafted cabaret, performed and written by Trickey. It has everything: a clear and engaging story, well-chosen songs to serve said story, a fully-realised character taking us along for the ride.

Trickey commanded the stage from the start, involving the audience – on Thursday night we were quite a small crowd which can be, well, tricky – but she was so charming that we were happy to play along. The left turn the story takes in the middle could have become trite and obvious, but as handled by Trickey was completely successful.

A lot of the humour in Happiness 101 relies on its ability to surprise the audience, and in the interests of people enjoying it as thoroughly as I did, I’m trying not to reveal too many of the details.

The show, however, reaches its pinnacle near the end in an amazing medley where the Professor realises her lifelong dream.  This moment is equal parts hilarious and spectacular, and I almost wish the show had ended at that point – it’s so good that anything after that feels like coming down.

Trickey was excellent in this show. She hits some amazing notes, assisted by accompanist Rowland Brache, who not only played beautifully, but also engaged in some lively banter with his esteemed colleague, much to the audience’s amusement.  Direction by Kim Edwards also deserves applause for making great use of the venue’s idiosyncrasies and keeping the action lively and varied.

I genuinely cannot say enough nice things about this show. Do yourself a favour and get on board. I can’t guarantee you’ll learn anything about happiness, but you will definitely be happier for seeing it.

Happiness 101: Laughter is the Best Pseudo-Science! is on at The Butterfly Club, South Melbourne, from 13th to 15th October at 7pm, and 16th October at 6pm.

Bookings through www.thebutterflyclub.com or 9696 2000.

Forget Your Troubles! The Return of HAPPINESS 101

Because EVERYONE needs more  Happiness-ology in their lives!

Having a bad day?

Here’s something to make you smile!

That’s right, ladies and gentleman, our favourite comedy cabaret guru and aspiring academic is back for a second season to remind us that laughter IS the best pseudo-science!

After a debut of feel-good performances and full-houses, Professor Gravis (aka Melissa Trickey) will be back with her lovable cabaret show, Happiness 101, and the good professor promises us it will be bigger, better, and WAY more happy!

It’s guaranteed to turn you from this…



…to this!



Mel Trickey, a mainstay of Melbourne music theatre, successfully tuned her talents into cabaret earlier this year, and is delighted to be returning to The Butterfly Club for four additional performances next week.

For fans of the first season, there is rumoured to be some new intrigues and song surprises, along with all your favourite hilarious spoofs of academia, aspirations and ABBA!

So get Glee-ful, sing for joy, and unleash your dancing queen: this show is simply and utterly a great laugh in good company, and a really fun night out!

Come on – get happy!

Happiness 101: A quirky cabaret about ploys for joy, measures for pleasure and practising what you preach.

Warning: Comedy is contagious…!

Written and performed by Melissa Trickey

Directed by Kim Edwards

Accompanied by Rowland Braché

Venue:  The Butterfly Club

204 Bank Street South Melbourne

Dates: Thur- Sun 13-18 Oct

Times: Thur-Sat 7pm, Sun 6pm

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com

REVIEW: N3rd Girl Versus The Zombie Apocalypse

The zombies are finally here!

by Kate Boston Smith

N3rd Girl Versus the Zombie Apocalypse is the debut performance for Jen Coles. Self-proclaimed nerd and zombie-flick lover Coles transforms the ever-gorgeous Butterfly Club showroom to an apocalypse-survival bunker where zombies are a very real and a literal threat. 

Taking the role as ‘leader’ Coles is fully equipped with facts, tips, instructions and imitation artillery….(very cute). 

For the zombie uninitiated (such as myself) she takes us through a thorough information session complete with song and group audience participation (beware the faint of heart!). The lengthy introduction to the world of zombie awakening soon gives way to some very clever songs about what to do and how to cope in these new surroundings.

Rowland Brache on piano is not only a gorgeous accompanist but brilliant co-actor.  The play between the pair is effortless and sweet.  You can tell that together they have had great fun devising these moments and one can only imagine the antics and hilarity that ensued during the rehearsal process.

On a side note, the performance felt like it lacked a certain urgency. Perhaps more fear in the character, more fuller electricity, is needed to really propel the zombie experience forward. That said, it was opening night and I am sure Coles will “feel the fire” of the brain-eating apocalypse as the season progresses. 

Coles’ songs grew and grew throughout the piece.  My favourite moment was her heart-warming and hilarious ballad of love to an unsuspecting audience member. This was on par to the grand finale, which was a romping good time in itself. There is nothing like a few surprises saved til the very end to leave your audience grinning with delight.

This is a cabaret for those who love their zombies, musicals and fantasy served on a cranium-platter….

Mmmm, brains!


N3rd Girl Versus the Zombie Apocalypse

Written and  performed by Jen Coles

Directed by Kim Edwards

Accompanied by Rowland Brache

Fri – Sat 7pm, 6pm Sunday

Tix $22/19/18 group

Bookings: www.thebutterflyclub.com


Next week the dead will rise…!

In case you haven’t heard, our world is about to be overrun by brain-hungry zombies.

Lots of them.

Luckily for you, N3rd Girl Jen Coles is here to help you survive this impending apocalypse with an hilarious horror cult cabaret in homage to zombie film classics, gaming culture, and all those things that go “Grr Argh” in the night…

From Night of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later to Resident Evil and Call of Duty, Coles calls the show ‘her lovesong to nerd culture’ with songs from such diverse sources as R.E.M, Jonathon Coulton, Weird Al and the soundtrack of L.A. Noire.

Preparing for the apocalypse hasn’t been all hot photo shoots, and fun and gaming however.

Filming of the short videos that punctuate the show was plagued not by zombies, but by the crowd of interested brain-dead bystanders who kept accidently kept shambling into shot…

(Check out the preview HERE)

Coles is a recent graduate of both Box Hill’s music theatre program and the Melbourne Cabaret course, and this, her quirky debut show, may just unleash your inner zombie-hunter and save you from a horrible undead death.

We have learned the last remaining bunker for humans who survive the initial outbreak will be The Butterfly Club next week: 7pm Thur-Sat Aug 11-13, 6pm Sun Aug 14. 

Entrance is only $22/$18, and you don’t want to be left outside the perimeter when the doors are closed, so book your place NOW. Your life may depend on it.


N3rd Girl Versus the Zombie Apocalypse by Jen Coles

Accompanied by the Man in the Hat, Rowland Brache

Directed by Kim Edwards

The Butterfly Club, 204 Bank St, South Melbourne


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(You should come, you know. If you want to stay alive…)

REVIEW: Original New Musical ONCE WE WERE…

Young, fresh and brimming with potential

By Deborah Langley

It is a rare to sit in the audience of a first. First dates are exciting because you just don’t know where it’s going to lead you. With similar anticipation, the audience shuffled into The Lithuanian Club in North Melbourne to be introduced to another kind of first: the emergence of some really fresh, raw musical theatre talent that has been hiding somewhere in Melbourne.

Once We Were…. opens with a Broadway-style ensemble number where we are introduced to some very familiar characters. This contemporary musical is set in the States (which is slightly disappointing for an Australian musical – but that is a side note) with catchy, pop-inspired music, fun accessible characters and witty dialogue which would feel just as at home on any Gen Y hit TV show.

At its heart this musical explores relationships as our writers understand them. We meet the straight couple who get together during college, the gay guys who are feeling their way through coming out to parents and dealing with an eight-year age difference, and the awkward lesbian couple who prove that opposites do attract.

The creators, Rowland Braché (composer/lyricist) and Lauren Seymour (writer/co-director) have been able to combine honest tales of love with great music and perfect timing in a musical which is reminiscent of a pop-inspired Spring Awakenings.  Kim Edwards (director) has brought it to the stage with simplicity and sincerity which allows these characters to really come to life.

The ensemble cast including Jacqui Levitas, Tyson Legg, Kathleen Amarant, Callum Botica, Christian Cavallo, David Miles, Kellie-Anne Kimber, Maverick de Leon, Cassie Lee Elliget and Jack Van Staveren work brilliantly together, but easily the stand-out in both performance and story line is the lesbian couple, Cindy (Jaclyn DeVincentis) and Olivia (Candice Sweetman) whose awkward banter and unpretentious reflections were both silly and poignant, and simply a joy to watch.

Like all first runs of successful shows, Once We Were…. is brimming with potential and spotted with imperfections that need an audience to highlight. I can’t wait for the second season and feel privileged to say that I was there to witness the first….  and you should be too.

Once We Were… is playing until 2nd July at The Lithuanian Club, 45 -50 Errol Street North Melbourne. Go to www.trybooking.com/OLJ for more information or contact 0487 487667

New Contemporary Musical Opens in Melbourne: ONCE WE WERE

Supporting local theatre is always a real love affair…

How often do you find yourself wishing, after seeing that hundredth production of Rent or that latest revival of Les Miserables that  there were more innovative, original modern musicals out there?

Prepare to fall in love: Once We Were has its world premiere in Melbourne this month.

[Check out the Official Promotional Trailer]

With an exciting cast of next-gen music theatre stars, a wonderfully melodious score, and the unexpected intertwinings of a trio of modern love stories, this production is set both to scintillate and seduce you.

Once We Were boasts an original contemporary score by Melbourne composer Rowland Braché, with book and additional lyrics by writer/director Lauren Seymour.  

The story follows the romantic relationships of three couples that cross paths across time and gender to face all the funny, sexy and real challenges and heartaches of trying to make love work.

Support new theatre and make history as Once We Were opens this June: take the time to look at what love and theatre was – and what it will be.


Once We Were

A New Musical by Rowland Braché and Lauren Seymour

Directed by: Kim Edwards & Lauren Seymour
Music Direction by: Rowland Braché



Emily: Jacqui Levitas
Martin: Christian Cavallo
Jonah: Callum Botica
Kevin: Tyson Legg
Cindy: Jaclyn DeVincentis
Olivia: Candice Sweetman
Rachel: Kathleen Amarant
Scott: David Miles
Ensemble: Maverick De Leon, Cassie Lee Elliget, Jack Van Staveren, Kellie Ann Kimber


Show Dates and Venue:

The Lithuanian Club, 45 -50 Errol Street North Melbourne

Friday June 24 8pm
Saturday June 25 8pm
Sunday June 26 7pm
Friday July 1 8pm
Saturday July 2 2pm & 8pm

All tickets $25
www.trybooking.com/OLJ or 0487 487667

On Facebook: Once We Were