The finest Australian cabaret has to offer
By Myron My
Angela Harding’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival show Just Like You… Only Different takes the audience on a journey of the highs and lows of being a performer in the arts as well as touching on some more personal moments of Harding’s.
If she talks long enough then surely we’ll have something in common, Harding muses before beginning her first number for the night. Using a combination of original songs and some famous covers, her charismatic and endearing personality thus quickly spreads through the audience until we are a roomful of smiles and laughs.
Along for the ride is musical director and accompanist Mathew Frank, whose piano arrangements are flawless and add another dimension to the well-known songs that Harding performs, such as Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and the sultry “At Last” by Etta James. The transitions between songs were smooth and well paced, giving us enough time to take in what we just heard and prepare us for the next brilliant tune.
Harding particularly shines with her original tunes, including the triple threat of being a “Singer, Actor, Dancer” whereupon she also takes to the piano. Seems to me Harding is more of a quadruple threat and should clearly add musician/song-writer to this list: “Silence” is a beautifully composed song and I don’t think anyone in the audience took a breath until that final note was sung.
The crowd almost brought the house down with their cheers as Harding sang her final number and I honestly have not heard an audience cheer like that for a very long time, except at sold-out large-scale music gigs.
Just Like You…Only Different is a joyous ride of Harding sharing her stories with her audience and no doubt deserves to be the winner of the 2011 Australian Cabaret Showcase. Keep an eye out for her future performances, for this lady belongs on stage.
Just Like You… Only Different was performed on the 20th – 21st July, 7:00pm at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012.
Tales from the heart
By Jessica Cornish
Singer/songwriter Ruth Katerelos, draped in a red-laced singlet and fishnet fingerless gloves, took the mainly over-40’s Butterfly Club audience on a journey of her life in What‘s Love Got To Do With It?
This intimate and personal cabaret explored in brief her time as a self-destructive teenager to becoming a woman in love, a woman in grief, a mother, and finally finding a way to love again.
Accompanied by her silent and focused Ovation guitar player, Monique Kenny, Ruth performed a series of mainly acoustic pop songs she had composed, along with a couple of more jazz-influenced numbers. Although musically appealing, the songs would have benefited from more varied chord progressions, as some began to sound rather similar as the show continued.
The cabaret was obviously very well rehearsed, and the banter of Ruth’s life came across as a series of slick monologues, well-projected and clearly articulated. Initially the show seemed to lack a clear direction, however, as the show progressed and Ruth revealed more of her roller-coaster life experiences with substance abuse and relationships, you could not help being drawn into her story. Ruth’s heartbreaking tales of her constant loss of friends and lovers, and how she tried to make sense of life again in becoming a mother and finding a new partner Marg, made me catch my breath, and all I wanted to do was to hug this woman who I’d never seen before in my life.
Beyond the personal however, Ruth also touched on wider concepts of love, and how we perceive it as a society. She argued that a person can’t get all their needs fulfilled by a single person and that sometimes simply staying in a relationship for safety doesn’t help make people happy, and these more universal observations kept the performance from being self-indulgent.
On the night I attended, there were a couple flat notes and little vocal cracks, but in such an emotional story, I don’t believe that really mattered. Ruth took us on a moving journey and her very attentive audience thoroughly enjoyed the night, with a couple even flying specifically to Melbourne from Adelaide to see this friendly performer.
Overall, What’s Love Got To Do With It was a pleasant and touching night of entertainment. Keep an eye out for future performances: I would recommend it for a more mature audience who will enjoy to be lulled by acoustic pop songs, and seeing a snapshot of a remarkable life not familiar to most of us.
What’s Love Got To Do With It was performed at The Butterfly Club on Thursday 2nd to Saturday 4th of February 2012.