Tag: Spiegeltent

MICF 2016: SUNNY RAY AND THE MAGNIFICENT MOON

Family festival fun with the sun

By Joana Simmons

Our favourite friends who warm our days and add wonder to our nights bring songs, stars and sparkle to the Spiegeltent and the 2016 Melbourne Comedy Festival for ages four and up. Fresh from a critically acclaimed world premiere at Sydney Festival, Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon, invented by Clare Bartholomew and Daniel Tobias (creators of Comedy Festival favourite, Die Roten Punkte) is a polished, humorous take on what happens when the sun stays up all night to party with the moon.

Sunny Ray

Every day Sunny Ray (Clare Bartholomew) wakes up before everyone else (even the birds!) She brings life to the plants and the sky with her cherry songs and sparkly demeanour before sending them to sleep and handing the sky over to the Magnificent Moon (Daniel Tobias). In an Elvis-meets-Abba white jumpsuit and silver cape, he hangs out with the stars and parties through the night: playing his electric guitar, crooning about his face and his phases, and I can’t help but take a shine to him. Sunny Ray wants to stay up late like and party with the Magnificent Moon so hides behind a cloud and they do all sorts of fun and naughty things all night!

This show has colour and heart. It promotes the ideas that ‘you are the best at being you’ and ‘sunshine never goes out of style’ and teaches us all sorts of things, like where daylight savings comes from. The puns and funny bits for the big kids sprinkled throughout are clever to the point where I wanted more, and the original songs of various genres- folk, funk, disco and pop give the show pace and a chance for the audience to get involved.

Bartholomew’s portrayal of Sunny Ray is bright and likeable and whilst her delivery of her songs was animated, the vocal quality was rather lacking and pitchy in contrast to the more accomplished Tobias. That being said, the harmonies and movement in the duo numbers are bang on. A highlight for me is the physical comedy and clowning between the two- you can tell they are seasoned artists, and the audience is onboard the whole way.

A magical starry curtain and well-designed props provide the perfect backdrop for this Arena Theatre Company gem directed by Christian Leavesley, with dramaturgy from Casey Bennetto (Keating! The Musical).  If there’s only one show you take your kids big and small to this festival, make it this one- it’ll brighten your day.

Venue:        The Famous Spiegeltent at Arts Centre Melbourne

Dates:          Tuesday 5 until Sunday 10 April

Time:          11am

Tickets:       $25

Bookings:   www.comedyfestival.com.au

Advertisements

REVIEW: Melbourne Festival Presents LIMBO

Circus with flare

By Myron My

Presented as part of the 2015 Melbourne FestivalLimbo is an exhilarating blend of circus, acrobatics and cabaret that will have audiences speechless and leave them wanting much much more. With a strong nod to the 1920s and performed in a Spiegeltent, Limbo transports its audience into a seedy underworld of no barriers or rules, a place where everyone can come and play, no matter what your tastes and likes may be.

Limbo

Its international cast ensures that they have the best of the best in its skilled performers including fire-breather sword-swallower Heather Holliday who at one point literally has the stage in flames and the near-impossible contortionist act by Tigris. Other highlights include Danic Abishev‘s hand-balancing act and Mikael Bres‘ Chinese pole act, which left audiences gasping throughout.

There is a great sense of play and cheekiness coming from the performers, which adds to the excitement of Limbo. While they are clearly focused and very careful in what they do, they never let this emotion show and except for one of two moments, you can never actually tell if anything doesn’t quite go according to plan.

The interludes between acts are well thought-out that not only assist with the set up of the next act but allow the audience to catch their breath and compose themselves from the excitement they’ve just witnessed. Scott Maidment has directed a very tight show that has no unnecessary lulls among the incredibly highs of watching these talented people creating intense and jaw-dropping acts with their bodies.

Sxip Shirey‘s live score – including some brilliant beat-boxing by Bres – is a great accompaniment to the acts. The music and the performances come together in unison, to the point where the movements of the acts are in perfect sync with the beats and rhythms of the music.

The charisma and genuine playful nature of the performers ensures that Limbo is an intense yet highly enjoyable experience. There are a number of “need to be seen to be believed” acts that will have you exiting the Spiegeltent in awe and wonderment of what has just been witnessed.

Venue: Spiegeltent, South bank of Yarra River, east of Princes Bridge.

Season: Until 1 November | Tues-Sat 8pm, Sat 3pm, Sun 7pm.

Tickets: $35 – $69

Bookings: Melbourne Festival

Image by Tony Virgo

REVIEW: Spiegelworld Presents ABSINTHE

High energy, high drama and high expectations

By Myron My

In 2013, I had the good fortune to be working front-of-house when Spiegelworld brought its show Empire to Melbourne’s Crown Casino. I was able to watch repeatedly a troupe of world-class artists performing in highly skillful and often death-defying acts, which also proved to be an exhilarating experience for audience members. Fast-forward two years, and Spiegelworld have returned their Spiegeltent to the Crown Casino rooftop with their new show Absinthe.

Absinthe

Inspired by cabarets of late 19th-century Europe, Absinthe is a spectacular and intimate performance of burlesque, circus, song and dance with enough variety to appeal to everyone. However, given the theme of the show and the physique and strengths of the performers, there is also quite a bit of flesh on display and plenty of sexual innuendo and some not-so-subtle sexual humour by the hosts, The Gazillionaire and his sidekick Penny Pibbets.

Now I understand that, given the nature of the show, there is a need to be cheeky and funny and even controversial but for me these hosts lacked the warmth and the familiarity that was accomplished so well by the hosts in Empire. This led to some highly awkward moments, such as the performers pulling two males out of the audience and having them give a lap dance to a female audience member. It was extremely uncomfortable to watch as these men took off their clothes, touched her, and shook their ass in the woman’s face. Fortunately for everyone involved, it went relatively smoothly the night I attended, but looking around the audience there were clearly a number of people who did not find this funny in the slightest.

The acts themselves however were both mesmerising and frightening at the same time. Los Dos Tacos (Belarus duo Aliasandra Yurkavets and Andrei Sizonenka) and their dramatic parallel bars act was by far the highlight of the evening, with the artists performing extraordinary tricks where landing even a centimeter off would have proved disastrous for them and quite possibly for the audience. Another personal favourite was the Duo Strap dance routine by Americans Jacob Oberman and Maika Isogawa, which may have allowed our hearts to stop racing, but then displayed some beautiful moments on stage with aerial ballet.

Sadly, for me the high-wire finale by The Frat Pack lacked the suspense and ‘wow’ factor required to end the night on a high. There were stronger, more thrilling acts that were performed earlier in the evening that I feel would have been more suited for the finale spot.

Although it’s no Empire, Absinthe still manages to amaze, excite, and leave you with your mouth hanging open in astonishment. These are performers who are at the top of their game and it is probably one of the few chances you’ll ever get to see them perform. Despite its flaws, Absinthe is still a theatrical highlight of my year so far.

Venue: Rooftop at Crown Casino, Southbank, 3006.

Season: Until 17 May

Tickets: From $56.07 to $157

Bookings: Spiegelworld

Image by Mark Turner

Review: THREE HIGH ACROBATICS’ Knock Off

When renovation becomes a real balancing act

By Myron My

Making their Melbourne International Comedy Festival debut, Three High Acrobatics Knock Off revolves around three men who walk onto a building site and attempt to construct a contemporary circus show in eleven easy steps, including ensuring there is a love story present and having dramatic pauses throughout the story.

Three High Acrobatics

When it came to the acrobatics, the guys (Sam Aldham, Taka Seki and Christ Carlos) were strong as both charismatic performers and impressive athletes. The broom-balancing segment was beautifully performed and the aerial work had the audience mesmerised. There were a few mishaps here and there, but any show that involves such high physical demand from its performers is occasionally going to falter and, if anything, amplifies the mood in the audience to support them and see them succeed on the next attempt. The strength and the skill these three possess is not to be undermined and this is particularly proven in the final few moments of the show.

There are quite a few musical numbers– with the parody version of 90s song “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks now changed to “Bloke” being one of my favourites. One of their ‘steps’ is to include a contemporary dance scene and the one they chose had me grooving in my seat as it is also the one choreographed dance sequence by a boy band I wish I could perform! The music played is used to support and alter the mood they are trying to convey during each segment: one particularly clever example of this was during the love story, which allowed the guys to ham things up when needed.

However, as a comedy show I felt the humour in Knock Off was lacking in most parts. The energy was certainly visible but the comic element was often being stretched and didn’t feel very natural. The characters were not all that endearing and I found the ‘apprentice’ to be more annoying than anything. Clearly these guys were more comfortable with the acrobatics than with the acting.

Knock Off loses a little of its charm when it comes to the comedy, but Three High Acrobatics provide an entertaining show that will engage you with their exciting circus skills.

Venue: Wonderland Spiegeltent, 120 Pear River Rd, Harbourtown Docklands

Season: Until 20 April | 7:00pm

Tickets: $20 Full | $15 Conc

Bookings:www.ticketmaster.com.au, www.wonderlandspiegeltent.com.au, 9602 1311 & at the door

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.