Tag: Tara Minton

REVIEW: Melbourne Cabaret Festival’s CLOSING GALA

Olympians, Oprah and marriage equality in fabulous festival finale

By Bradley Storer

The stars of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival joined together at Ormond Hall on the festival’s closing night to raise funds for and support the cause for Marriage Equality.

Tara Minton, a British-based Australian harpist and singer, played selections from her festival show about the songs of Joni Mitchell, enchanting with her ethereal arrangements of ‘Woodstock’ and ‘Smitten’ and a voice that combined delicacy with a surprising power. Karin ‘Danger’ Muiznieks showed off the breadth of her range (as well as a dead on Piaf impression) in a tune that summarised the highs and lows of the Festival accompanied by Cameron Thomas.

Jon Jackson astonished the audience with his incredible range in an Etta James classic and a heartfelt song about the joys of marriage and children (made all the poignant by Jackson’s remarks about the inability to marry his partner of fifteen years). Cabaret diva Tina del Twist (the drag alter-ego of Wes Snelling) took to the stage with an imaginary back up band, crooning snatches of songs in a voice of spine-tingling power, in between bouts of wandering the stage in an absent-minded haze that felt like a three-act play in itself!

After intermission international drag cabaret star Spanky re-opened proceedings with some rock’n’roll sexiness as she sauntered through the crowd, accompanied by guitarist Robert Tripolino, before stunning with the Madonna tune ‘Revolver’ from his 2012 Green Room award-winning show Candice McQueen. Jazz chanteuse Jade Leonard took to the stage with her self-penned gay anthem ‘Equal Love’ before announcing her engagement to drag performer Art Simone (also present on the night) and inviting the audience to their nuptials at the next Equal Love Rally.

Matthew Mitcham as MC for the evening charmed with a ukulele mash-up of Kylie tunes for his opening, and guided the rest of the event with awkwardly adorable enthusiasm. This being a fundraiser for marriage equality Mitcham played to certain elements of the crowd, performing an impromptu striptease to ‘Barbie Girl’ (accompanied on the harp by Minton) which I’m sure left half the audience with spontaneous pregnancy. Later he showed off more of his… ahem… ‘assets’… during the auction which raised prices significantly!

Closing Gala

The night closed with a special guest performance by Oprah (played by Rachel Dunham), fresh from her Melbourne Cabaret season in Oprahfication, who regaled us with tales of starting out as a young black woman in television and bringing the house down with a voice that shook the rafters.

An incredible end to one of Australia’s fastest growing festivals, displaying the phenomenal talent on offer every year.

 Venue: Ormond Hall, 557 St Kilda Road, Melbourne

Date: 7th July 2013

Time: 7:45pm

Advertisements

Review: Opening Night Gala for MELBOURNE CABARET FESTIVAL

A glorious beginning to this year’s star-studded and spangled festival

By Kate Boston Smith

Opening Night Gala

A festival first born in the garden of delights that was The Butterfly Club’s original address has blossomed out of its next gothic home in the South Melbourne Town Hall to now stretch its sequin canopy over the length and breadth of our music-loving city.

It was a fantastic and bold move by directors Neville Sice and David Read to open this year’s heavenly event at the auspicious and grand old dame of live performance art, The Palais Theatre on St Kilda’s Esplanade.   Lush red curtains and a smattering of sparkling stars pulled cabaret performers close to the practically sold-out audience for an intimate taste of this beloved art form.

Fem Belling, jazz vocalist and leading lady (performing her own show Blossom Dearie at Chapel off Chapel) hosted the Gala with all the flair, playful wit and costume changes one could hope for.  Clearly a night of stand-out acts from the festival, Trevor Ashley and Rhonda Burchmore took parody and adult-only panto to gin-soaked, pun-tastic new heights, with Burchmore proving she has still most definitely ‘got it’.

Divine Gala moments included Yana Alana’s scantily-clad excerpts from her anticipated return in Blue Show (being performed at 45 Downstairs). Gripping all with her lasso quips and razor-sharp lyrics Yana Alana brings a certain cheek to the stage others could only dream of.  New York cabaret icon Joey Arias took us from the cheeky to the sensual with his beautiful channeling of Billie Holiday. His velveteen tones should not be missed in Arias on Holiday at Chapel Off Chapel.

Absolute crowd favorite was the impeccable Mary Wilson, original chanteuse of The Supremes.  Draped in a red gown, diamonds and white mink stole, Ms Wilson was every bit the dream diva.  Performing excerpts from Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project, she captivated the entire room with her grace and beauty.

This Gala Opening Night was the perfect initiation into the superb world of cabaret.  All the acts were tremendously chosen, with performers such as Tara Minton, David Pomeranz and Adam Guettel who tantalized all not only with their voices, but literally with the sharing of secrets from their personal lives and work practices.

It is this transformative journey from cabaret room into the mind, body and artist imagination that fuels the fire of cabaret-loving audiences.  This is an ideal time of year to make your way into an intimate performance space to have your soul sparked by some of the best in the business.

The Opening Night Gala took place on Wednesday June 26, 2013. There are over 150 performers and performances running NOW for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2013 until 7 July. Check www.melbournecabaret.com for full listings.