By Bradley Storer
A rich languorous voice in the darkness, calling and drawing listeners into the deep folds of blissful undisturbed slumber – as Melbourne cabaret mainstay Emma Clair Ford takes to the stage of The Butterfly Club in her latest work Laugh until I Cry, she trails her characteristic air of seductive mystery and refreshing emotional honesty, wrapped up in a honey-hued voice that thrills at the same time it soothes and relaxes.
Laugh Until I Cry is a jazzy exploration of the anxiety-riddled emotional rollercoaster known as adulthood. What sets Ford apart from fellow and equally talented cabaret performers is the absolute economical tightness of her writing, in which not a word seems excessive or unnecessary but perfectly calibrated for maximum effect. Aided by Alister Smith‘s snappy direction, Ford unleashes torrents of manically-driven monologue and beautifully nonsensical dream imagery with admirable clarity and precise diction, the rich underlying musical soundscapes provided by accompanist Vicky Jacobs helping to take the audience on these imaginative journeys.
Ford herself is that contradictory combination of being radiantly charismatic at the same time she is intensely relatable and seemingly ordinary, blessed with a gorgeous voice and comic gift that can take Adele’s ‘Right as Rain’ from a jazzy jaunt into an adrenaline-crazed outburst worthy of Sondheim. Drawing on composers ranging from Gershwin and The Beatles all the way to Michael John LaChiusa, Ford takes us from one end of the day to the other, paralleling the journey from despair to acceptance and forgiveness of our own human frailties.
Laugh until I Cry, as its title implies, is an ultimately joyous celebration of the strength and fortitude needed to wade through even a single day of adult life, a great new work from an established cabaret artist which is mandatory viewing for any cabaret aficionado or those wishing to see cabaret in its purest and most creative form.
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 1 Carson Place, Melbourne.
Dates: 4th – 8th March
Times: Wednesday/Sunday 8pm, Thursday – Saturday 9pm
Tickets: Full $30, Concession $26, Members $25, Group 8+ $24
International star lights up our cabaret festival
By Myron My
Joey Arias’ Arias on Holidays was the perfect introduction to not only the 2013 Melbourne Cabaret Festival but also to Arias himself. Appearing in a haze of smoke and armed with nothing more than a piano (and a flashlight), Arias was captivating and from the second I heard his voice, I was hypnotized.
Arias’ jazz and blues tunes are quite breathtaking and he manages to fit in a few other unexpected songs that keeps us guessing as to what is coming up next with a cheeky rendition of a “Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles proving to be a crowd favourite.
Arias’ repertoire for the night also includes songs from her time with Cirque De Soleil and her 2008 production Arias with a Twist – which sounds like a show that must be seen to be believed.
My favourite song of the evening was “Why Don’t You Do Right?” – most famously sung by Peggy Lee, but Arias owns it. Arias’ finale “Be My Baby” not only continued to showcase his massive talent but also some surprisingly great singing voices from the audience.
There’s no doubt that Arias is channeling Billie Holiday in his music choices and style, but amusing there is an occasional touch of Carol Channing in Arias’ voice too!
Arias is joined on stage by jazz piano virtuoso Jeremy Brenna and the rapport between them is quite frankly, hilarious. Their banter could have been a show on its own and it’s hard to believe they’ve only been working together a short time.
There were a few comically cringe-worthy moments in the show which included Arias shoving a microphone down an unsuspecting “volunteer’s’ trousers and singing into it but somehow Arias makes these all seem – er – ‘above board’…
New York cabaret icon Joey Arias’ Arias on Holiday was an evening of a lot of class and a little bit of crass, but either way, it was an enjoyable venture out for this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival.
Joey Arias performed on June 27 and 28th at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the 2013 Melbourne Cabaret Festival.