Saturday, 18 February 2017

Chicago - Koorliny Arts Centre (18 February 2017)

It's fair to say Kander & Ebb's classic is one of my favourite musicals - great songs, great music, sexy, slinky and sassy with that other musical theatre giant Bob Fosse adding his unmistakable stamp.

It's a pleasure to report then that today's sold out matinee was a real treat and a fine start to Koorliny's community theatre season.

Now, despite, ahem, entreatments to get me back in the reviewing game, let me instead nominate some of my many highlights...

The orchestra added the sass and swagger and I was particularly impressed with elements you don't usually hear such as banjo and accordion. Props to Emily Gelineau on violin and a cracking brass section.

Elethea Sartorelli was excellent as Velma Kelly with two standout sequences in I Can't Do It Alone and When Velma Takes The Stand.

Helen Kerr came into her own vocally with My Own Best Friend and was the linchpin in several memorable sequences, particularly We Both Reached For The Gun and Me and My Baby.

Jon Lambert was a most sympathetic Amos giving the character's signature song Mister Cellophane impressive pathos.

David Wallace made for a slick and laid-back Billy Flynn with Razzle Dazzle another well staged sequence courtesy of choreographer Allen Blachford's work which was exemplary throughout.

Callan Kneale threatened to steal the show as Mary Sunshine and both Tate Bennett and Ruth Bennett caught the eye in various roles.

Finally, a highlight for followers of community theatre - Sartorelli and Rachel Monamy (a ballsy Mama Morton) - both recent Finley Award winners, sang the hell out of the duet Class.

Funny, sexy, with a roster of great songs the few remaining seats for next weekend will not last long.

*originally published at

Friday, 17 February 2017

Top Five Shows - Fringe World 2017

That's me done for Fringe for another year. A relaxed and entertaining run of 17 shows that I enjoyed very much. Thank you to all the performers, musicians, and the raft of people behind the scenes making it all work so smoothly.

Now, as anyone who follows me knows, I like a good list so here are my Top 5 shows and some notable contributors...

1. LA SOIREE - Led by Captain Frodo and The English Gents with a plethora of superhuman individuals this is like The Avengers of Fringe shows.

2. THE ONE BY JEFFREY JAY FOWLER - My tip for the Martin Sims Award for best local production.

3. WHEN HE GETS THAT WAY - The unexpected gem of my festival experience with a cracking script and a duo of great performances.

4. WRONG DIRECTION - The raucous boy band pisstake that was so wrong it was oh so right.

5. A HOT HARLEM ROMP - Powered by a white hot jazz band this had style to burn.

There were many fine performances but a few in particular that caught my eye...

GEORGIA KING - Terrific in The One playing a woman aghast at the prospect of marriage and all its ramifications.

JEFFREY JAY FOWLER - While I wasn't as big a fan of Price Tag, that play, The One and a reprise of Fag/Stag mark Fowler as a significant writing presence at this year's Fringe.

Special Mentions:

Gabriel Fatin - provided superb accompaniment on piano in the classy Minor Major Marlene.

Lisa Louttit - a wonderfully calibrated comic performance in When He Gets That Way.

Lucy Ross - her rendition of Amazing Grace alone blew the doors off The Brisbane in her very funny musical Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.

Kimberley Harris (as Kimberley Diane) - excelled in a thoroughly charming one person show about chasing your dreams.

Mark Storen - added significant musical chops in The One as well as being a terrific counterpoint to King.

*originally published at

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Fringe World 2017 - Spiegeltent Spectaculars (8 & 12 February 2017)

A Hot Harlem Romp - Perth Cabaret Collective (8 February 2017)

A white hot nine piece band under the command of Jessica Herbert; the irrepressible Jessie Gordon on vocals and sequins with partner in crime the suave 'don't ask me to dance' Mark Turner; joined by performers from Sugar Blue Burlesque adding pizzaz and plumage, this is slinky, sexy, sassy, saxy, bright and brassy.

Watching this in the De Parel Spiegeltent was like stepping into a Speakeasy and it's no wonder songs from Cabaret and Chicago featured.

This whizzed by, indeed it ended a little abruptly at the 50 minute mark. I could have settled in for an evening of 'jazz and liquor' in this thigh slapping, toe tapping romp. A great way to kick off an evening at Fringe.

La Soiree - La Soiree Australia (12 February 2017)

Warning, superlatives ahead.

Last year I was comp'd to review this Fringe World behemoth. I was so impressed that this year I bought 'posh seat' tickets to take mum and dad along for mum's birthday.

Favourites Captain Frodo and Hamish McCann remain to be joined by a bevy of new acts with some truly spectacular inclusions. We had great seats, the service was excellent, and the show was yet again amazing.

La Soiree is a jaw dropping mixture of grace, power, strength and precision with a liberal addition of hijinks and tomfoolery.

The show is perhaps at its best when it goes vertical - McCann's poledance routine is fast becoming legendary; aerialist Katharine Arnold was stunning on the rope in more ways than one; Bret Pfister is coolly efficient and precise on the suspended hoop; and the English Gents reign supreme, this time with a new tower of strength to accompany McCann.

Frodo is the wince inducing contortionist and clown supreme with chanteuse Acantha Lang adding pipes and legs forever. There are other surprises involving bananas and, let's just say, quick costume changes though Scotty the Blue Bunny was a weak link.

The show ends with the gasp worthy Leo & Ursula who add a shot of adrenaline with an act on rollerskates that has to be seen to be believed.

*originally published at

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Fringe World 2017 - Various Locations (1, 7 & 14 February 2017)

A Leading Lady In Waiting - Kimberley Diane (1 February 2017)

For many people music provides the aural signposts to important moments in their lives - memories, significant events, people. For Kimberley Diane that soundtrack is not only for personal highlights and lowpoints but tracks a career drenched in music, notably musical theatre.

The show follows her love affair with musicals and the roles she has played and hopes to play in the future. This gives us an eclectic set of songs from traditional musicals such as Guys and Dolls, My Fair Lady, and Mary Poppins to a couple of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most well known songs, to Jason Robert Brown, Wicked and even a song from The Wedding Singer! All of them wonderfully sung with impressive sound quality and crispness upstairs at Rigby's.

Kimberley is personable and engaging in the intimate space and the insight and context she provides between songs is relatable and charming. Throw in more costume changes than a Cher concert and a surprise makeover and this is a celebration of the passion, commitment, and talent required to follow your dreams and idols.

And when those idols are among the biggest names in movie and theatre history you know you're in for a fabulous show.

Only one more left, Wednesday night at Rigby's. Definitely recommended.

When He Gets That Way by Ann Marie Healy (7 February 2017)

Dear Diary,

Today I bravely set forth from my well of sadness. I visited a magical place where a mistress of the house and her handmaiden regaled me with tales of Him. There was spirits/booze, a ukulele and an itsy weensy piano. I laughed gaily. Many ups and downs on the stepladder of life. Must tell friends.

Let's not beat around the bush - this is my gem of Fringe to date. Beautifully written script - witty, clever, literate, sly - given great service by two terrific performances courtesy of Lisa Louttit and Taryn Ryan. The former plays a vacuous mistress who seemingly knows nothing of real love or even life beyond the strictures of her class; the latter a servant with a peasant upbringing whose burgeoning spark of life inspires and confounds her mistress.

The device of the duelling diaries that feed off each other as the women compete over the lovely mcguffin of 'Him' is astutely calibrated both in writing and performance.

Throw in a clutch of original songs and meticulous use of blocking to represent relative status on the simple set which features a stepladder and you have a smart, funny, and entertaining play that is a must see at the Flaming Locomotive.

I can say with no hesitation, "I wasn't bored, Miss."

Cheek to Cheek - Megan Kozak & Harry Prouse (14 February 2017)

Take two talented performers, an outstanding accompanist, a roster of standards, a comfortable venue, and the threat of puppetry and you have a cabaret show that is like a cool breeze on a summer's day.

But let's face it, there are plenty of shows at Fringe that have those elements (well, except, sadly, the puppetry). What elevates Cheek to Cheek to the top ranks is the outstanding chemistry Kozak and Prouse share. There is an immediate ease to their onstage schtick as they bounce off each other with banter between songs and interaction during them.

This show has a loose framing narrative unlike last year's Dinner Is Served. Here it is their relocation to Melbourne and all the things that come with the struggle to move from 'Burritos to Broadway'. Prouse plays the straight man with consummate charm which allows Kozak to vamp in her screwball comedic style. It's a joy to watch especially those little unscripted moments that feel spontaneous and totally organic.

David Wickham adds class on keyboard with an expressive playing style that is fascinating in its own right. He also shows real joy at his stage mates' antics.

The chemistry is best exemplified during the back and forth of Anything You Can Do. Other songs include I've Got You Under My Skin, The Trolley Song, Smile, and a helping of Streisand. All wonderfully sung.

I'd tell you to rush out and buy a ticket but the run is sold out. And rightfully so.

*originally published at