Previously published reviews - 2011
This is a collection of reviews that were originally published on Cabaret Confessional in 2011.
What’s Love Got to Do with It?
Feast Hub – The Lounge
Ruth Katerelos’ autobiographical show centres on the well-trodden theme of love – unrequited love, romantic love, family love and love for dance, songwriting and performing. She has a theory that everything can be divided into love and fear. Using her original songs, she explains how.
Her touching life stories pack quite a punch and are well linked. Katerelos shares her devastating losses and the crippling grief that followed. Her pain is carried through each note that she sings. Thankfully, what comes next is the healing, rebuilding and rebirth of her upturned world.
The songs range from folksy to bluesy and Monique Kenny provided just the right amount of accompaniment on guitar.
The performance shows signs of opening night nerves when she stumbles on her patter and her mostly crystalline voice wavers in parts. With such heavy subject matter, the show could use more comic relief to offset the overall subdued tone.
Nevertheless, as Katerelos’ first one-woman cabaret, What’s Love Got to Do with It? is still blossoming, and has great potential to flourish into a truly compelling show.
Published on November 23, 2011. Read the original post here.
En Route to Modesty Lane
Feast Hub – The Lounge
Adelaide-based musician Annie Siegmann is young, smart, sassy, bubbly and has a few quirks. She also has many stories to tell and a question to ask – how do those tales people share and hear move and affect us all? Through her self-penned songs, she explores the realms of storytelling in her thought-provoking show, En Route to Modesty Lane.
Hilarious showstoppers like “I Just Really Want to Fuck You”, a song about her stalker, and a clever number about a collection of anecdotes printed on the package of sanitary pads called “Odd Spot Facts” are effectively balanced with more serious tunes, such as the one on her first heartbreak and another girl’s story of being a teenage mother.
Ably supported by her three-piece band (Alex Wignall on keys, Brett Williams on bass, Ellen Mitchell on drums), Siegmann dazzles as a natural-born performer in her first ever cabaret that she premiered at the Cabaret Fringe Festival this year. Her irreverent, laid-back charm and comfortable stage presence add warmth and intimacy to the show. To top it all off, she has pitch-perfect and versatile vocals, amusing patter, spot-on comic timing, solid songwriting skills as well as razor sharp wit.
Watching her perform is like savouring a plateful of delightful treats. This bundle of remarkable talent that is Annie Siegmann will be the next big thing in cabaret. Mark my words.
Published on November 23, 2011. Read the original post here.
Feast Hub – The Ballroom
Dark Comforts is a joint cabaret project between three bands from Brisbane – Bertie Page Clinic, The Good Ship and Silver Sircus. However, there is a problem; only one member of Silver Sircus made it to Adelaide due to yet another airline drama. The show must go on, and what we have is a modified version with two bands.
Bertie Page launches into an intriguing mix of glam rock, burlesque and cabaret in her set. She looks every bit the temptress in a Victorian dress with a frightfully tiny waist in a corset or in a pair of lingerie or tasseled Mata Hari costume. She is nymph-like with cascading long locks and captivating playfulness as she dances around the room, engages with the audience, belts out songs about revenge, retribution and seduction, then walks on glass pieces. As impressive as her other skills are, comedy is her game – the amusing and revealing (metaphorically and literally) banter and the cheeky rendition of “Where the Wild Roses Grow” with John Meyer are the highlights.
On the other hand, there is not much cabaret happening with The Good Ship in the second half of the show. The eight-member band play a set with their pirate folk numbers about murders of various varieties, guilt and decadent temptations. They have a few people on their feet with catchy, danceable songs like “Bury Me” and “Harbour Fair”, but it’s more like a concert with barely any interaction between the performers and the audience. As a stand-alone folk band, they’d bring the house down at pubs, but what they’ve got isn’t cabaret and it feels completely disjointed from the first set.
That said, the show would’ve been different with a third band. Bertie Page Clinic and The Good Ship soldiered on with a plan B at a very short notice, and under the circumstances, offered an entertaining evening that was darkly, wickedly comforting.
Published on November 23, 2011. Read the original post here.
Red Light Songs of Lust, Love and Death
Feast Hub - The Lounge
Until November 18
Feelings of lurid lust? Bring it on. Sex and drugs? It’s all out on the table. Tragic deaths? Not a problem. Eric Kuhlmann is a consummate storyteller, who unabashedly sings about all these things and more in a poetic, whimsical way. Throughout the set is a collection of witty and funny original songs with a few interesting interpretations of Tina Turner and Piaf numbers.
Looking pensive with a guitar, he professes his desire for his teacher, his classmate and hairy men. He also describes his colourful friends and wild escapades. The tone shifts when he shares the story of loss, when two of the closest people in his life get let down by the system and prejudice. Though unsentimental, he tells the heartbreaking tale with pain, frustration and quiet anger in his voice that stir that deep emotion. Woven into this, is a tender love story that brings a ray of light.
The distracting dance music beats from the outside during his monologues notwithstanding, Kuhlmann delivers a strong, memorable, and unexpectedly therapeutic performance. Highly recommended.
Published on November 18, 2011. Read the original post here.
La Boheme, Adelaide
20 August, 2011
Life is like watching YouTube clips – and how true that is – it was one of the sage observations that Chris Mason made in her cabaret debut.
The well-structured show focused on its title theme; Serendipity. It featured a collection of songs and stories about unexpected surprises that Mason came across in her life. Her late blooming cabaret career is one of them, but she’s had many others – finding a long-forgotten letter, falling in love, and moments in her motherhood, to name a few. The songs, which had a good balance of light and shade, were seamlessly tied to her witty, incisive and at times self-deprecating patter.
She kept the talking to a minimum and let the songs tell the stories, which worked beautifully, as she had such deep connection with the lyrics. From the jazzy rendition of opening number “On Broadway” (Mann, Weil, Stoller & Leiber) to the bittersweet “If I Told You Now”(Jason Robert Brown) and the rousing “The Best is Yet to Come” (Cy Coleman), she nailed each number with an impressive vocal range while capturing the songs’ essence and emotions at the same time.
Mason was superbly supported at the piano by Matthew Carey, who never fails to make the singers he accompanies shine.
She had a warm, graceful stage presence and there was genuine rapport with the audience members, who were clearly relating to the songs and re-living their own serendipitous hapstances. She put herself out there with elegant simplicity and not a hint of pretence. Just a little more direct interaction with the audience would add another element to the show, but no doubt that will come as she continues to hone her craft.
Chris Mason delivered an honest, sincere and authentic performance that spelt classic cabaret. It was an exceptional debut with a promise of more - as she sang herself, ‘the best is yet to come’ from this bright new star.
Published on August 22, 2011. Read the original post here.
Michael Feinstein Sings Sinatra
The Festival Theatre
June 26, 2011
In his return to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, the multi-talented cabaret star Michael Feinstein was in splendid form.
The stage of the Festival Theatre was adorned with teal drapes, emulating the ambience of his own cabaret venue Feinstein’s at Loews Regency in New York. Feinstein owned the stage from start to finish, singing Sinatra with elegance and style. Despite performing in a theatre with almost 2000 people, he pulled off a stunning cabaret show. Gracious and personable with a sense of humour, he interacted with the audience as if the theatre was the size of a living room. Taking song requests from the crowd, and bantering with a front-row audience member who was caught leaving the venue and returning, he created an intimate show.
Supported by the stellar 17-piece Adelaide Art Orchestra, Feinstein exuded charisma whether he was standing atop a Steinway, sitting at it and playing it or standing in front of it, never losing the connection with the full-house audience. The anecdotes featured entertainment luminaries like Liza Minnelli, Ira Gershwin and Sinatra himself. The wide range of repertoire during his generous set of nearly two hours included “Once in My Life”, “Sway”, “Fly Me to the Moon”, “Maybe This Time”, a Gershwin medley and the almost obligatory “New York, New York”.
This was a fitting grand finale to cabaret-filled three weeks at the Festival Centre and a perfect send-off to the artistic director David Campbell as he bid farewell to the Festival.
Published on July 4, 2011. Read the original post here.
Carrie Rawlings - When I Was Young I Listened to the Radio
June 23, 2011
Festival Theatre Stage
British chanteuse and pianist Carrie Rawlings was one of the guest stars who sang with Stephen Schwartz at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival last year. She returned with her solo show packed with an eclectic range of hit songs from the radio by the likes of Burt Bacharach, Coolio, Carole King, Whitney Houston and Lily Allen.
The songs were linked to the stories of her life and family. They tied in nicely with her patter, but interpreting them to sound as her own would add more personal touch.
The high point of the evening came when Rawlings shared her insecurities and self-doubt, then dished out an empowering rendition of “Video”, a self-esteem anthem for women by India.Arie, striking a chord with the audience.
Although the autobiographical theme lagged in places, Rawlings is a sassy performer who has the vocal and piano chops to deliver quality cabaret shows.
Published on July 4, 2011. Read the original post here.
A Modest Exhibit
June 24, 2011
Reprising his 2011 Adelaide Fringe cabaret debut, Charles Sanders takes us on a journey of ‘a boy’ through the songs and muses that shaped him.
This version is chiseled down to its very essence in an intimate venue that brings the audience closer to him. It delivers an honest story and shines in its simplicity.
A boy’s love for musical theatre, his parents’ devastating divorce, putting up a wall, numbing himself with drugs – each of these stories are told with Sanders’ all-consuming zeal for his art. Visually striking, Sanders engages the audience with his soulful eyes and emotionally charged vocals that speak a thousand words.
His rendition of “I’m Not Afraid of Anything” is raw and powerful in its vulnerability as it takes his passionate performance to new heights. The closing number “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” suggests that this is an open-ended tale that will continue to unfold as Sanders grows as a cabaret artist and keeps on tapping into his unlimited potential.
Sanders gives an exquisitely nuanced performance in this return season and takes the show to a new level.
Published on June 28, 2011. Read the original post here.
Mark Nadler in Crazy 1961
June 16, 2011
The Banquet Room
In this much-anticipated solo show at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Mark Nadler follows the major milestones that took place in 1961, including JFK’s inauguration, the first human space travel, the emergence of Rock ‘n Roll and the first body mics on stage, with hit songs from the same year. Two other events that happened in 1961 - Nadler’s conception and birth - are skilfully linked to the aforementioned historical events.
Nadler is radiant on stage and is in his element at the piano with his excellent four-piece band. A consummate showman, he creates a palpable connection with the audience as he pours his soul out through each lyric and note. The extraordinarily tender “Dedicated to the One I Love” and the blistering top 50 medley are simply stunning.
Crazy 1961 puts a spotlight on the culturally, musically and historically significant year. It also pays an affectionate tribute to Nadlers’ parents and others that are near and dear to him. It is a beautifully crafted show that illustrates the true depth of his outstanding talent.
Published on June 21, 2011. Read the original post here.
Robyn Archer in The Other American Songbook
12 June, 2011
There’s been a welcome movement to expand and reinvigorate the American Songbook. Barb Jungr’s superb album The Men I Love: The New American Songbook last year reinvented contemporary classics written by American male songwriters.
Now, we have the incomparable Robyn Archer unleashing a collection of American songs that aren’t the usual familiar standards in this compelling new show, at her sixth Adelaide Cabaret Festival outing,
Beginning with the 1800’s, she seamlessly covers a wide range of genres, including musical theatre, country, Western, folk and pop. She delivers each song with a wave of nostalgia and sheds new light on them. An exquisite moment comes when she sings “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” - the stirring rendition made more poignant with the background story of censorship and its lyricist Lorenz Hart. Her final number, a splendidly crafted cross-America medley also rates a special mention.
The three musicians Michael Morley (piano), Matthew Carey (keyboard), and George Butrumlis (accordion) onstage not just accompany, but collaborate with Archer. They elevate her flawless performance to new heights.
It is a wildly entertaining and deeply thought-provoking show with an insightful selection of songs. At this triumphant World Premiere, the less obvious and not as familiar gems shine in the masterful hands of Archer.
Published on June 15, 2011. Read the original post here.
La Chevre Noir
June 10, 2011
On New Year’s Eve 2010, Catherine Campbell, Sidonie Henbest and Jamie Jewell brought the colourful and rowdy Parisians Gigi, Celeste and Jacques to life. It was a three-hour of non-stop comical high jinx.
In their latest show for the Cabaret Fringe Festival, the trio is back in Paris. The bickering sisters Gigi (Campbell) and Celeste (Henbest), and the offbeat, baguette-loving Jacques (Jewell) discover that their cabaret club La Chevre Noir is fated to be turned into a supermarket. The show must go on, however, and they sing away their blues.
With a parade of French themed songs, the audience is transported to a smoky club in the City of Light. The trio has a sense of camaraderie and a warm stage presence. Chris Martin at the piano skillfully creates the French ambience.
They’ve got the slapstick, rambunctious tone down pat. Campbell is a delight as the flirty, wanton, boyfriend-stealing minx, and the suave Jewell cranks up his cheeky appeal. Henbest does the disgruntled and melancholic Celeste well, but it’s a shame to see her dynamic vixen side toned down.
The sing-along of “Non, Je Regrette Rien” with hand-written, phonetically spelt lyrics has everyone howling with laughter. It is a fitting finale to the thoroughly raucous evening.
This irreverent French cabaret is filled with fun and frivolity. The packed house spoke volumes – the next installment cannot come soon enough.
Published on June 15, 2011. Read the original post here.
Emma Dean in Stripped
June 5, 2011
Pop cabaret songstress Emma Dean has created a quirky, flamboyant world with her ‘imaginary friends’. In this solo show, she dares to strip down – literally and figuratively. She strips for costume changes, and it’s a departure from her usual visual extravaganza with multiple performers. It’s simply Dean in a black unitard, her keyboard, Betty the mannequin and occasional appearances by her guest star Emily Davis. Even the songs have a minimalistic approach and are laid bare.
Dean’s take on cabaret is light on banter and heavy on storytelling through her lyrics, and it works. Her distinctive, soaring voice carries detailed nuances and emotions of each number. Her original songs, including the US top 15 single “Sincerely Fearful” from her latest album Dr Dream Imaginary Pop-Cabaret, are honest and imaginative. They all reflect her rich, magical universe. The deliciously decadent interpretation of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Bullets with Butterfly Wings” is a revelation.
This stripped down version of her show puts a solid focus on Emma Dean’s unique gift as a singer/songwriter/storyteller. Here’s hoping she’ll continue to flourish performing solo and unleash even more of her bewitching charm.
Published on June 7, 2011. Read the original post here.
Tyrannosaurus Sex - The Puppet Rock Opera
Bob is your average beer-drinking, channel-surfing penis. He is riddled with insecurities about his size, gets conned into buying dodgy gadgets from the infomercials, succumbs to social stereotype and confronts his biggest demon. Though the title and premise might alarm some, this show is an absolute riot. It features catchy tunes, well-thought out staging and impressive puppetry. The detailed, expertly crafted singing penises in various shapes and forms are peculiarly adorable. Bob in particular, is such a hapless but a likeble character (no easy feat for a body part that is essentially a spongy, tubular cone head) that you’ll find yourself barracking for this schlong with a size complex.
Not for the prudish (the endless penis jokes may not appeal to all), but men will relate to this show and women will get an insight into the male psyche, while enjoying an all-out hysterical phallic romp.
Published on June 4, 2011. Read the original post here.
The Damsel in Shining Armour
Fringe Festivals always offer a mixed bag of shows – you win some, and you lose some, especially with the lesser-known kooky acts. But when you win, you can win BIG. The Damsel in Shining Armour is one of those surprising, unexpected discoveries.
Sophie Walsh-Harrington has written this wacky tale of a neurotic melodrama queen (direction by Tom Dickins and music direction by Jennifer Kingwell of The Jane Austen Argument), featuring music of Celine Dion in the funniest way possible. She is a consummate performer and has a great flair for comedy. She superbly pulls off this edgy, clever cabaret at Nexus Gallery - a well-chosen intimate venue.
Her sharp wit and off-beat humour, superhuman comedic timing and delivery as well as astute direction drive the show. Clad in a hideous 80’s electric-blue cocktail dress, Walsh-Harrington still manages to look irresistibly sexy. And boy, can she sing! The show moves in frenetic pace and her accompanist Matthew Carey doesn’t miss a beat.
The multi-talented Walsh-Harrington pulls out all stops - she has us all in giggles and hysterical laugher the entire time with her portrayal of an intense, overwrought basket case of a love-obsessed young woman and draws us all completely into her story. And at the finale, we even get to help make her feel like a great star that she is.
For 60 minutes of non-stop flurry of fun and something different, do yourself a favour - go see this refreshingly quirky and hilarious show.
Published on March 7, 2011. Read the original post here.
What’s This Thing Called…?
Bronwyn Baud, an Australian performer who’s enjoyed an illustrious career starring in numerous major musical theatre productions in the West End made a return to the stage last year after being away from it for years. She embarked on a comeback tour with her cabaret show What’s This Thing Called…? last year and delighted the audience.
For her Adelaide Fringe debut season, she reprises the show to a near capacity crowd. Thrice married and divorced, she talks and sings about all things love, sprinkled with anecdotes from her musical theatre days. She also adds her musings about love and marriage.
Sadly, something is amiss from the get go – the hot weather gets to her and she is frequently distracted throughout the set, which hampers the flow of the show.
Not all was lost. The moment she begins to sing with her pure and luscious voice, things look up. She gives a credible performance with well-known musical theatre numbers like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and Sondheim’s “Broadway Baby”. Plus, she does close the show with the exquisite “What I did For Love” by Hamlisch and Kleban. But there is no real connection between Baud and the audience.
As the storytelling aspect of the show disintegrates, the set feels longer than necessary - her patter needs to be more engaging, delivered with better timing and have stronger links to the songs to maintain people’s attention. Trimming a few songs might help keep the momentum going.
This show should’ve been a showcase of Bronwyn Baud’s terrific gift that is her heavenly voice and her amazing craft. Having seen a much more polished performance by her last year, it is disappointing to see her in poor form on the closing night of her Adelaide Fringe Season. Here’s hoping she’ll overcome this aberration and will return in top form next time.
Published on March 7, 2011. Read the original post here.
Teresa De Gennaro
Santos Conservation Centre
Adelaide born performer Teresa De Gennaro spent many years over in Europe, learning about the divas in a number of countries she lived in and visited. She takes you on a whirlwind tour, introduces the iconic chanteuses with stories about their lives AND sings in 10 different languages. There is an 8-piece band and a whiz-bang visual presentation on a big screen above the stage. A few sound glitches (which improved during the set) and sometimes obstructed subtitles aside, it is quite a spectacle.
Among the very well-known divas like Nana Mouskouri, Edith Piaf, Shirley Bassey and Marlene Dietrich, we also get to acquaint ourselves with Dalida, Ceca Svetlana and Laura Pausini, who aren’t household names in Australia, but are/were huge stars in Europe. She sings the divas’ signature songs, which are clearly near and dear to a number of people in the house, and there’s much delight and excitement as she launches into each tune and each tale.
Exuberant and spirited, De Gennaro has a powerful, impressive voice that captures the emotion and essence of the songs no matter what language she sings in. The highlight is the the rousing delivery of the heartbreaking “Je Suis Malade (I Am Ill)”, originally sung by the tragic diva Dalida.
With her strong vocals, she almost doesn’t need a big band for some of the numbers, particularly in a small venue – more songs that let us savour her voice on its own, in addition to more stories of her life abroad would’ve added another dimension to the show.
Eurodiva is full of fun, lively moments that get the audience dancing and humming along. The sold-out season is a testament to De Gennaro’s talent and the fact that the show has huge appeal. It has an engaging concept with numerous possibilities - can’t wait to see where will she take us next.
Published on March 5, 2011. Read the original post here.
Le Gateau Chocolat
Starring: Le Gateau Chocolat
The Deluxe,The Garden of Unearthly Delights
Many Adelaide Fringe goers have had a little slice of the big, cuddly and Lycra-clad UK-based performer Le Gateau Chocolat when he starred in the hit shows La Clique and A Company of Strangers. He is now back in the Garden of Unearthly Delights with a show of his own - a self-titled autobiographical cabaret solo debut, no less.
He moves between “Onstage” and “Backstage” via the clothes rack, aka “Bruce the Portal” to show us what he’s all about, and gives a knock out performance in the process.
“Onstage”, he makes a dramatic entrance as he opens the show with aptly titled Barbra Streisand’s “As If We Never Said Good Bye”. From that point on, we go on one hell of a fun ride – he does it in style with his trademark wigs, outrageous costumes, mile-long eyelashes and glittering crimson lips. The hilarious “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, the soulful “Ol’ Man River”, and the epic crowd pleaser “Nessun Dorma” thoroughly entertain. He also pays a touching tribute to Australia with Nick Cave’s “Ship Song”.
For the sing-along segment, he gives the most euphoric makeover in history to the tear-soaked quintessential torch song “Nothing Compares 2 U”. The multi-layered white frock he wears for this tune resembles a fluffy meringue, and he looks utterly delicious with his beaming smile.
There are many more comedic moments, one being a very memorable group Lycra experience. He has good rapport with the audience and works the room with cheek and charm in equal parts.
When he takes us “Backstage”, he reveals what’s beneath the razzle-dazzle façade. He shares his vulnerable side – we meet a Nigerian law graduate in his late 20’s, who keeps a secret from his mum and treasures unconditional acceptance he experienced with a little child. His candour makes the stories deeply tender.
His rich, booming and beautiful baritone voice needs subtle accompaniment that blends well and doesn’t overpower. Matthew Carey on keys and Lisi McGowran on cello deliver just that.
Le Gateau Chocolat gives his absolute all and brings much joy to the Adelaide Fringe crowd. He is indeed a moreish treat no one should miss out on.
Published on March 3, 2011. Read the original post here.
A Modest Exhibit
Arcade Lane, Regent One
In his cabaret debut A Modest Exhibit, Charles Sanders tells of his muses that have guided him through certain moments and stages of his life to date.
Through monologues and an array of songs ranging from Rogers and Hammerstein, Jason Robert Brown, Andrew Lippa to Queen and U2 with a strong narrative, he illustrates the events and aspects of his life that shaped him, such as his love for musical theatre, his parents’ divorce, dalliance with drugs and dealing with fear. He also examines the line between identity and influence.
He is striking with the most beautiful, delicate face and slender body. Clad in a black singlet top and the tightest black leather pants you’ll ever see, he stands strong, moves well on the stage, and gazes the audience with courage and honesty.
The imaginative arrangements by Sanders’ excellent Musical Director Carol Young draw focus on his impressive vocal range. The song choices are personal and pertinent.
What tops off the evening is the spine-tingling rendition of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” at the very end. The song sums up exactly where he’s at in his life, and he sings the lyrics the way he feels them.
The theatrical structure of the show and Sanders referring to himself in the third person (“The Boy”) in his monologues create a different dynamic, and it has its pros and cons, depending on what kind of interaction and connection he is seeking to have with the audience.
This is an early work in progress, and there’s no doubt A Modest Exhibit will continue to evolve with experience and fine-tuning. It is exciting to see a young cabaret artist taking risks and putting himself on the line the way he is. Many in the audience are touched by his gutsy performance.
He has so much potential, and for his first cabaret show, this is a stellar accomplishment. Charles Sanders is a talented and promising young performer that will go places.
Published on February 28, 2011. Read the original post here.
Sex & Crime with Fräulein Antje
Murder, rape, incest, weapons, kleptomania – those are the sinister topics Antje Guenther covers in her aptly titled show Sex & Crime with Fraulein Antje.
Unassuming in her gorgeous halter neck dress, she presents a collection of well-chosen English and German songs that take you through the “murkier waters of human affairs”, sprinkled with anecdotes and statistics about crime victims, perpetrators, and, of course, sex (her sexual preference? “Often”, she quips).
Her selection of songs like “I Got It From Agnes” by Tom Leher - a disturbing but amusing tune about spreading STD between friends, family and even their pet dog, Weil and Brechts’ ”Die Moritat von Mackie Messer (Mack the Knife)”, and “Miss Otis Regrets” by Cole Porter have one thing in common – for songs about death, diseases and murder, they all sound unusually upbeat. They are laugh-out-loud funny and don’t make you feel inappropriate for giggling. She also turns into quite a sexy vixen as she struts her stuff and sings “Special” and “If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It”.
She pulls all of them off – her interpretations sassy and smart. Exceptional Musical Director Chris Martin capably brings out the allure in her voice at the piano.
Having had solid acting experience, she is confident onstage and effortlessly draws the audience into the show with a number of astute observations.
When she, in her ever-so-personable manner, takes us to a place a few of us would admit to have gone during the incredibly liberating audience participation with a difference. She even teaches us all about the birds and the bees, courtesy of her sister’s picture book about where the babies come from with priceless illustrations.
Guenther’s sweet disposition work well together with the dark subject matter delivered with good dose of intellect, humour and charm. The contrast between her innocent looks and the sordid tales she tells and the songs she sings makes us pay extra attention. And having a series of taboo matters out in the open reminds us just how truly fascinated we are by them.
Antje Guenther thrills, captivates and beguiles - this clever show will boggle your mind.
Published on February 22, 2011. Read the original post here.
Viva la Franglaise
Nikki Aitken and Matthew Carey
The Spiegeltent, The Garden of Unearthly Delights
Nikki Aitken and Matthew Carey, the pair who brought us the hugely entertaining Cabaret Alive and Kicking last year, returned to Adelaide Fringe with their latest offering, Viva la Franglaise. They co-wrote the show, including every single song in it, and the result is an hour of riveting cabaret with distinct European flavour.
A boisterous South-Londoner Carol Pratchett leaves her stale relationship and tedious life as a seamstress behind and starts afresh in the coastal town of Nice, France. In an attempt to fend off unwanted advances from men, she unwittingly assumes the identity of Constatine Le Previeure, French Ambassador’s wife. A local gent Henri is quite taken by her nonetheless, and the sparks fly. Her fantasy life goes swimmingly well – until she gets embroiled in a political scandal and finds herself in a real bind. How is Carol going to get herself out of this mess?
The well-constructed and engrossing plot with a twist, accompanied by a series of original songs infused with romantic and elegant ambiance of French Riviera completely transforms The Spiegeltent into the world of Carol/Constantine with only a piano, two microphones, a beret and two talented performers.
Nikki Aitken once again proves that she is a master storyteller and has everyone in the palm of her hands, on the edge of their seats, or both, as the story unravels. The energy between the audience and the stage is electrifying at times, as we become increasingly involved with Carol’s life. Aitken is in her element as she delivers clever monologues and her voice soars in big numbers. She sings whimsically in some and passionately in others. The endearing British/French accents, though wavering a just tiny bit at times, add extra charm. Matthew Carey plays ravishingly at the piano and the tender, dreamy duets with Nikki Aitken create depth and authenticity to their charming love story.
A heartfelt standing ovation at the end signals this imaginative cabaret’s bright future. The Fringe season with only one show is sadly over, but since “the opening night and the closing night” was clearly a stunning success, return seasons can’t be too far off. When this duo bring back Viva la Franglaise and re-introduce us to Carol and Henri, be sure to join them on their exhilarating journey.
Published on February 14. Read the original post here.
Partners in Crime
La Boheme, Adelaide
Why do we fall in love? What leads us to the choices we make in relationships? How do we get ourselves into irrational emotional entanglements? Brigitte Baden-Rennie asks these $64,000 questions in her cabaret show Partner in Crime.
Revamped since last year’s Cabaret Fringe Festival and having toured to the UK, the hit show is now back in Adelaide for the Fringe 2011 season. Partners in Crime features a diverse range of songs by Cole Porter, Tracy Chapman, Brecht & Weill, Joni Mitchell et al with amusing scientific, historical and personal tales that explore the puzzling nature of attraction. The audience members get to put in their two cents worth, too.
And there’s another intrigue - did she REALLY run away the night before her wedding?!
Well accompanied by Chris Martin at the piano, Baden-Rennie s expressive voice moves from one emotional layer to the next, painting vivid landscapes of human relationships of many kinds that incorporate things we associate with relationships, including infatuation, passion, marriage, jealousy, and even violence. Whether it’s the gleeful rendition of Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You” , the heart-wrenching Neil Hannon and Joey Talbot’s “The Case Continues” , or the slinky and sexy “Some Cat s Know” by Lieber and Stoller, or the disturbing but comical Ballad of “Immoral Earnings” by Brecht & Weill, she conveys emotion with knowing looks of a woman who s been around the block.
The quietly haunting a capella version of Tracy Chapman’s “Behind the Wall” is one of the highlights. The helpless tone of resignation, chilling lyrics and Baden-Rennie s sorrow-filled eyes will remain in my mind for a long time.
She’s a natural performer, and her comfortable, relaxed stage presence makes the show all the more engaging with no hint of contrivance. The interactions with the audience with a plexi-board create spontaneity and genuine connection.
The show gains more momentum in the second set, and Baden-Rennie builds it up to a poignant ending it deserves. Her final numbers are deeply moving and gripping.
With many shows tackling similar subject matter, it’s a challenge to put together an original show, but she makes it work and the universal nature of the theme makes it easy to resonate with it. The eclectic song choice is a winner, too.
Partner in Crime is compelling as well as entertaining - a fine example of quality cabaret.
Published on February 10. Read the original post here.