Going round the twist

Wes Snelling, undoubtedly one of Melbourne’s most awesome cabaret performers is back, and in fine form, bringing his larger than life, booze infused, neurotic and slightly terrifying character Tina Del Twist along for the ride.

Tina was the cherub and comrade to the likes of Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe… But she never quite made it to be a household name. Or did she? In Tina’s eyes, she did.  Known for her ‘beautiful voice and wicked sense of comic timing’ – The Age Melbourne. Loved by audiences and critics alike, this gin-soaked velvet draped madame has been described as the lovechild of Dame Edna and Amy Winehouse. TAGG spoke with the unlikely pair about Gold Class, which will be taking place at the Melbourne Fringe Festival hub, deep in the bowls of the beloved Arts House…

Introduce us to the work, what’s it called, and why?

Wes: It is Tina del Twist GOLD CLASS. It is a live cabaret concert like being at the cinema, but it’s live. It’s like being at home on the couch but this is in the privacy of your own fringe festival. There are VIP banana lounge seats available (which come with a complimentary wine) and Tina may throw some cheese at you at some point. Tina is a fabulous lush of a woman I produce. She is my Aunt, an alcoholic and a little deluded. I have her here with me now…

Tina: Hello darling, how are you?

Wes: so how would you describe the work Tina?

Tina: Well I sing lots of songs with my wonderful guitarist. I sing songs about.. oh how dull of me I don’t want to talk about the songs I am singing, it takes the fun out of it. Songs are there to be heard and lyrics interpreted via melody. Otherwise they would be poems, or chapters in a novel wouldn’t they, not songs. Come and see the concert and you’ll hear the songs. But they are of the blues and jazz vein. And I tell some jokes and stories you know.

Wes: Does that answer your question?

What drives you as a creative, is it the joy of performance, or the thrill of creating new work?

Wes: Well I will hand that one over to Tina…

Tina: Sorry what was the question? … Oh look, you know what, every time we are creating a new song or show or ‘work’ as you like to call it, I think god this is going to be a fun adventure, and then just before we start the process I have four panic attacks and think this is a bloody awful and anxiety ridden experience, why have I put myself in this position? Then I think it’s alright, once we get to the performance that is when the fun starts, it will all be ok, and then you get to the night of the performance and you are about to go on stage, you have four panic attacks and think this is a bloody awful and anxiety ridden experience, why have I put myself in this position? Then I think it’s alright, once we get to the end of the show and the applause arrives it will be worth it. Then you get to the end walk offstage and wonder if anyone actually liked it and you have four panic attacks and think this is a bloody awful and anxiety ridden experience, why have I put myself in this position? Then I think it’s alright, once we get paid you know, and then you realise the show was a fundraiser for a shed that needs to built somewhere in Nunawading to house a lawn mower, and so you go home and cry yourself to sleep. But to answer your question, what drives me as a creative is Gin.

Wes: What Tina is trying to say is that she really enjoys the entire process but most of all loves engaging with her audience.

What should audiences expect musically, and where drawn inspiration from when creating the work?

Tina: What should audiences expect musically? Songs darling.

Wes: Tina be nice. So, I know working with Tina on this there are quite a few original acoustic songs that are folky, bluesy, jazzy.

Tina: Let me talk Wes darling you sound like a dickhead. So there are quite a few original acoustic songs that are folky, bluesy, jazzy. The only time we choose to do a cover song is if we think we bring something new to it. There is no point just covering a song because you love the original, it has to also fit the context. Otherwise it’s karaoke. So we do songs by Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, songs that I grew up with and a lot of Australian work too but the lyrics have to make sense and be relevant to me. For example I wouldn’t do a song like Baa Baa Black Sheep because I am not a sheep, and I am not a fan of children so what’s the point? We do a song by that wonderful man Michael Hutchence, Devil Inside. I spent a lot of time with him back in the day. He taught me how to be sexual. But to answer your question, I draw inspiration from wine. And valium. At the same time.

Why do you think Tina Del Twist is still as popular, or perhaps notorious as ever?

Wes: I’ll take this one, Tina has just drifted off.

She is persistent! Ha! Tina is a talented alcoholic who once was a starlet but she is now living on the other side of that and is completely deluded that the stardom has ceased. There is an underlying darkness and tragedy to this that she doesn’t harp on about. In some ways everyone has or knows of an Aunt Tina. Not necessarily one that sings but certainly that Aunt who rocks up to xmas smashed and has no filter and takes you out the back for a joint. Her dementia often kicks in and she says whatever she likes. And that is why she is really fun, and why I think audiences can get a kick out of it as she often says things people are thinking but may not feel comfortable saying.

How do you see this performance as standing out from the rest of Melb Fringe this year?

Wes: I will start by saying it is not a competition. I think Melbourne has enough audiences to go and see shows. You still have to work hard to get people there. I think people do go and see more than one show. I would personally like to steer away from the idea that we stand out from each other because it creates a competitive culture, particularly in a fringe festival where I believe one of the main purposes is to nurture all artists involved.

Tina: Oh shut up Wes, this show stands out because it is the best.

What do you hope that audience will walk away with post show, and why?

Wes: I like people leaving a show and asking questions. Specifically, ‘why didn’t we book a banana lounge Gary?’

Tina: There can be a stress when creating a show that there has to be resolution at the end or that you have to leave the audience with one message to take away. I try not to focus on that. This particular show has a lot of light and shade in it and it is much like a mosaic puzzle, in a good way. Over the course of an hour you get presented with all these dots to join in the form of music and anecdotes, and you let them wash over you. Then when you leave all the dots make sense. This is my favorite kind of cabaret.

For more information and to book you tickets click here

Not Another Indie Cabaret

The delightfully disenchanted cabaret songstress Jessamae St James, is looking to stand out from the pack with her new performance Not Another Indie Cabaret. A work that is self described as “Soaked in satire, part self-deprecating reflection and part love letter to making excellent life choices whilst drunk on eBay.” and directed by Steven Gates one third of Australian comedy powerhouse Tripod, should indeed prove to be a trifle entertaining.

Pair this with the lusciousness that is The Butterfly Club, who are presenting the work as part of their Melbourne Fringe season, you have more than a good chance of having a great time in checking this one out. TAGG spoke with Jessamae ahead of the season.

What is the inspiration behind you show?

The show is a comedy cabaret, a satirical mash of indie, pop and spoken word. I was inspired oddly enough by cabaret! You see, I don’t want to perform ‘just’ another indie cabaret. But what the heck does that actually mean? I mean, isn’t cabaret by it’s definition pretty indie? And then if it is an indie cabaret how do I know if it’s indie enough? Questions. Drama. Throw in a loop station and some questionable online shopping. Oh also, a trumpet kazoo.
 
Why cabaret, and what do you hope to give audiences, and what do you hope they take away from the performance?
Cabaret so perfectly captures my loves; music, story telling and intimacy. Urgh that sounds so squishy but I love cabaret and so I tend to wish a lot from it. I think it’s such a wonderful way to tell stories and can also be outrageous ridiculous fun. I really hope to remind audiences that not taking ourselves too seriously can be a source of wonderful joy!
What do you feel defines your work, and sets its apart from the rest of the Melbourne Fringe Season this year?

All of the songs in Not Another Indie Cabaret are written by me using instruments that I’ve bought whilst drunk on eBay! Also, the show is directed by Steven Gates (who is 1/3 of the multi award winning comedy trio Tripod), he has a wealth of knowledge on all things funny.
 
You have an incredible voice, talk to us about how you came to be a singer, and whats your training background?

In high school I was 100% a music theatre geek and went on to study music theatre at VCA. I then went back a few years later and completed a third of the jazz improv degree. Whilst I was there I found myself wanting more and more to be creating and devising theatre and so I took some time off to do that, and haven’t looked back! Although the songs in this show aren’t stylistically jazz, I’m very much influenced by jazz in my writing. Early on when I first began writing I was lucky to be part of a song writing mentorship where I was mentored by Deborah Conway. Since then I’ve somehow managed to sing jazz in nightclubs, in beautiful theatres whilst performing striptease in burlesque shows and combine it with my kitsch 80s omnichord for silly synth-y fun.

Not Another Indie Cabaret opens on Tuesday the 20th September and plays till Sunday the 26th, for more information or to book your tickets click here.

Ladyboys Cabaret St Kilda Foreshore

0

 

LadyBoysMore than twenty of Thailand’s most beautiful Ladyboys, star performers from some of the most prestigious cabaret shows in Thailand, are in St Kilda to perform in the Thailand Ladyboy Superstars Cabaret in the St Kilda Triangle.

Thai Ladyboys are known for their flawless female impersonations and as the world’s most glamorous showgirls (who just happen to be men!). With immaculate make-up these extraordinary ‘Thai beauty queens’ wear more than 200 specially designed costumes … all dripping with diamantes, rhinestones, feathers and sequins.

The Thai Ladyboy Superstars Cabaret is a Las Vegas style blend of cabaret, dance and comedy with fun-filled lip-syncs performed to classic and contemporary numbers, including movie hits, superstar pop favourites (Tina Turner, Kylie Minogue and J-Lo) as well as enchanting music from Thailand. All performed in extravagant stage settings.

The Thai Ladyboy Superstars are dedicated to their profession and are arguably the best in the world in this genre of performance. The ladyboy shows of Thailand are famous worldwide and are a major tourist attraction for Thailand. Many of the performers in the show have been the face of the various cabaret shows around Thailand.

Tickets may be purchased at www.ladyboycabaret.com.au.

 

Baritones Belting Bond

Fringe is almost here, and among the plethora of shows about to take over our city, is a performance about the world’s greatest spy, a man who is suave, patriotic, sporting a devil may care attitude, of course his name is Bond, James BondPerfect for newbies and know-it-alls alike,  Shaken  plunges head first into over 50 years of James Bond iconography. Pitting the seven ‘James Bond’ actors against each other in a race to determine, scientifically, which of them is the greatest all-time Bond.  Charlie D. Barkle who is at helm of this productions spoke with TAGG about the work.
Charlie tell us about the process of creating a cabaret performance, where did you begin?
For me a Cabaret starts with an idea gem or nugget, it could be as simple as a gimmick, or a topic, or even something that I think is cool and really want to do on stage, for Shaken it was the latter, I had met Oliver Clark at a karaoke night that he hosts in Fitzroy and we hit it off, ‘Bonding’ over our love of James Bond movie themes. Oliver would belt out Thunderball and Golden Eye, where as my favourites were Licence to Kill and Goldfinger. Wanting to develop a simple, fun, and accessible cabaret show, I thought what better genre than Bond, approaching Oliver to join me for the ride and I set about writing and fleshing out the concept.
What is the inspiration behind this show, was there a particular moment in a Bond film that inspired you?
I’ve always loved Bond films, I jumped on board during the Brosnan era, but quickly went back and filled in the gaps with Connery, Lazenby, Moore, and Dalton. But more than the movies themselves, it the themes that inspire me, there is something truly magnificent about a Bond theme, both classical and pop simultaneously, the smooth strings, the pop of the brass, and then the singers, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Tina Turner, Adele, Garbage, Chris Cornell, Louis Armstrong, the list goes on and on and on.
What do you  think has been the key to the Bond film’s success, and how do you hope to emanate this?
The ability to reinvent and reimagine the character for different generations is moist certainly at the heart of the Bond franchises success, also the ability to evolve with an ever changing world, is certainly a key factor to its success. Shaken aims to celebrate the Bond franchise in all it’s incarnations, from the terribly misogynistic Connery era right through to the more enlightened and respectful Daniel Craig. By pitting the Bond’s against each other in friendly competition we explore the evolution of the character and how he has changed and adapted through history for a changing and developing audience.
What do you feel the performance brings to the Melbourne fringe program, and what sets you apart from the rest of the pack?
The pop culture arrogance of 3 simple words “Bond, James Bond
Musically, what can audiences expect from the this show?
As our tag line suggests, Baritones Belting Bond, I’ve handpicked 8 of my favourite themes and Oliver and I have set our selves the task to add our own personal flair to the themes, We’ve arranged a pretty cool duet version of Skyfall, we’ve got a Tom Jones sandwich with Bassey bread, and we’ve got the Gladys Knight, and Tina Turner twin play.
Did you seek or perhaps find inspiration from anywhere else?
Conceptually I borrowed, strangely enough, from my love of mathematics and statistics. I’m a huge fan of a good spreadsheet, and the idea to pitt the various Bonds against each other came from there. I was watching through all 26 Bond films again, researching for the show, and I thought wouldn’t it be fun to pick out a number of key attributes and keep a tally of them as I went along. This formed the basis of the show giving us the categories that we assess each Bond by to determine the answer to the age old question Which Bond is the best.
Shaken, opens on Tuesday the 20th of September at The Butterfly Club, for more info click here

Seen And Heard

Melbourne is a city bursting with talent, but sometimes it can feel that performers, companies and venues are more comfortable following trends and keeping to a formula that is tried, true and guaranteed to pull a crowd. And no one can really be blamed for this, with the current social and economic climate here in Australia doing very little to support cultural wealth or investment in the arts..

So when you stumble upon a group of performers that have banded together, and broke away from their usual shtick, visually engaging, impressive and able to pull a crowd, but perhaps lacking in any real depth or substance. you have to take a moment and congratulate them.

The group of performers in question are led by the demure Becky Lou in Seen and Heard and joining her on stage at The Butterfly Club are Clara Cupcakes, Frankie Valentine, Jessamae St James and Melbourne’s latest drag sensation Karen from Finance. Each individual give to this performance there all in a manner that ‘s is as humorous as it’s beautifully vulnerable yet above all else, exceptionally honest.

Following a simple formula where each individual takes to the stage and deliver routines that have been central to their careers and the reason for their notoriety. But what follows each of these scenes is the real magic, removing their “mask” each sharing deeply personal stories, that are confronting, heart warming and reflective. Adding to this mix is a nervousness and the intimate setting, for many of them this performance has offered the first opportunity to incorporate story telling into the art of burlesque, cabaret, song and drag.

Looking around at what is currently being presented here in Melbourne, what this show possesses is a concept and a set of values that are otherwise not represented or explored enough by local artists. By opposing the idea of glamourizing narrative or creating heightened experiences through the over use of projection, lighting and other theatrical device, this performance succeeds.

You leave the performance feeling as though you have just witnessed something special,  it is as if audience are integral part of the performance, not due to loathed audience interaction, but because this is a work that inherently and without question trusts the audience to provide a supportive environment.

It deserve to be seen and heard by not just the general public, but  by other performers as a fine example of how best to shake things up and diversify between different forms and theatrical device, it plays till this Sunday at The Butterfly Club, for more info click here

All Hail Me

All Hail Me, is a cracking example of cabaret at it’s best, sharp, witty, politically loaded and side split-tingly funny. It follows the story of Henry the 8th, a king who by all accounts, makes the love life of Taylor Swift look like a case of “happy ever after” and yes her music does feature here, along with some of the most iconic numbers of recent years, all melded to the guise of creator, and performer Bobbie Jean Henning.

She has swag, and charisma in bucket loads, she gets the audience right in there, drawing them into this world, that borders somewhere between the past and the present. Let’s get this straight, Henry the 8th was a not a nice man, constantly seeking an heir the throne, he enjoyed a succession of wives,  a number of which ended up, with their head on the chopping block. So to have such a, dare it be said, ballsy woman breath life into a such misogynistic character is a joy to watch, and a concept that is not short on humorous antidotes.

Because All Hail Me, is not just the standard run of the mill historical expose or re-telling, but a performance that through subtle nuances blurs the lines of gender bringing into play delicate subject and conversation , while other elements successfully marry the here and now. Such craftsmanship helps this performance to connect with it’s audiences, and gives enough of a hook that in more sombre scenes a tear or two is shed. As much as you are as repelled by this character, he is bought to life in away that also draws you toward his magnetism . It’s indeed, rare that cabaret, an art form that in more recent times has become something more closely related to light hearted entertainment, can offer up such dynamism of the kind found here, and this is without question the mark of a great performer.

Musically the show is tight, and Bobbie Jean Henning posses one of the rare voices that renders you speechless, with its clarity, wisdom and soulful toning. The performance does not rely solely on the accompaniment of piano, also playing with recorded sounds and other instruments to its full advantage. Her vocal prowess only matched by the way in which she commands if not fills the room with her infectious energy, All Hail Me, probably uses the space better than any other performance presented at The Butterfly Club over the past year.

Not much more can be said about this performance, it’s simply brilliant, intelligent and commanding. A  must be see, it plays at The Butterfly Club till this Sunday; though hopefully this is not the last we have seen of Henry the 8th as envisaged by Bobby Jean Henning. Book your tickets here

Frankly Winehouse

When she passed away in July 2011, after struggling with drug addiction, family breakdowns and the pressures of life in the public eye, Amy Winehouse left us with some of the most incredible and most iconic pop songs of the past 20 years. She defied convention, went out and did it all her own way, not just a junkie, but an incredible artist with a unique voice, and a compelling style, that captured the hearts and the imaginations of people in an era where every artist seemed polished, mass produced and lacking soul. Frankly Winehouse is a cabaret work, that is not quite a tribute show, though it paints a funny, fragile and soulful portrait of an artist lost way too soon. Creator Ashleigh Kreveld spoke with TAGG ahead of her upcoming season.

What was it about the music of Winehouse that captured the hearts and imaginations of music lovers around the world, in your own words, what set her apart?

I think Amy’s music was something that hadnt really been heard at the time. Her blend of jazz, rnb and modern hip hop, with the lyrics and sentiment of a poetic, yet street savvy, young woman were seen as something else. She never set out to be a pop star, she just made music she wanted to hear. I think people loved her slick rhythms and melodies, and were also drawn into the no-holes-barred stories she shared through her lyrics. Her voice alone is mind-blowing; even singing covers, her smoky alto is compelling to listen to.

Aside from her music, what other characteristic do you think helped in propelling to international stardom?

I think the fact that Amy didn’t really give a toss about being a ‘celebrity’ propelled her into fame. She was a regular Camden girl who happened to find herself famous – she partied and hurt and lived like anyone else, but the fact that she wasn’t polished and she spoke out was capitalised on by the media. Obviously her struggles with drugs and alcohol, and her husband’s arrest, were seen as top selling stories, and further pushed the so called “train wreck” Amy WInehouse brand into the light.

How do you personify such a larger than life character on stage, is it even impossible to do such an amazing musician justice?

I try my best to do Amy as much justice as possible. Looks wise, I’ve got the whole wig, dress, tattoo thing happening. As an actor and singer, I’ve studied her mannerisms and tone from a technical point, and try my best to replicate that. As a writer, most of the dialogue is direct quotes of things Amy had said in interviews, or drawn directly from her lyrics. However, I’m not an impersonator. I’m just trying to respectfully paint a portrait of an astonishing artist that I too am in awe of.

What can audiences expect from the performance?

Audiences can expect a frank, fun night out with Wino. I think my cabaret is unique in the sense that it’s the first time Amy’s voice is heard, in her own words, not spun in a biography by her father or in Asif Kapadia’s slickly edited biopic film ‘Amy’. I sing all her greatest hits, supported by a pianist, and delve well into life behind the beehive – touching on her heartbreak, addiction but also her fun, playful and witty side – ditching dirt on celebrities too!

What do you think the world lost, the day Amy died?

I think the world lost a truly great artist that’s legacy really hasn’t been replaced. Not only musically and lyrically gifted, but fresh in her views, and with who she was as a person and artist. Mainstream singers nowadays like Adele seem sleek and manufactured in comparison, while others, like Sia, seem to shy away from the limelight. She truly was one of a kind.

And finally, what do you hope to offer audience, and what most do you hope they take away from it?

I hope the audience gains a fresh perspective on a truly talented artist and human who was more than a ‘junkie’ caught by the paparazzi. I hope they have a newfound respect and love for Amy if they weren’t familiar with her music beforehand. I hope to paint a picture of a talented, glorious songbird lost way too soon.

Frankly Winehouse opens this Wednesday the 3rd of August at Whole Lotta Love Bar in Brunswick, for tickets click here

A Teenage Dream

Josh RH Daveta is a singer/songwriter, recording artist & performer from Brisbane, Australia. In 2014, his self devised show Caramel at Best played at Brisbane Fringe, Backbone 2High Festival and Short+Sweet Festival. Skip forward a couple of years, and latest offering Teenage Dream has recently enjoyed a sold-out premier season at Brisbane Powerhouse and the young performer is excited to be bringing the show down south, for a strictly limited season at The Butterfly Club, he spoke with writer Jessi Lewis, about inspiration for the show about and all thing pop.

Josh, what is it about pop music that inspires you, how do you feel it reflects in your own music style?

Pop (Popular) music is responsible for some of the most timeless anthems in history like Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen), The Way You Make Me Feel (Michael Jackson), Vogue (Madonna), Rhythm Nation (Janet Jackson), Baby One More Time (Britney Spears) and Genie in a Bottle (Christina Aguilera). Whether it be my clothing style choices, vocal/musical nuances or even creating a playlist for a party, pop music plays such a huge part in how my existence has been formed if I’m being honest. All that knowledge & passion has reflected in this particular performance piece as something that everyone can enjoy & smile to with a set list of incredibly catchy pop music.

Who have been some of your biggest inspirations, friends, family, musicians, how have they helped shape or direct your career, what are your aspirations?

I’m constantly inspired by people around me on the daily. Creatively, I’m very heavily influenced by Michael Jackson, Prince, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston & Queen. They are the epitome of influence in pop culture for me. The way I approach music is down to their nuances and work ethic and has become this great tool to how I approach my career as well. I don’t just sing, I also act, dance & write so having these amazing artists as constant references makes being creative a constant vortex of FUN! My aspiration is to constantly create shows & form performances that make people feel better than when they first came into the audience space. I also want to make enough money to be able to buy Green Tea Frappucinos from Starbucks whenever I feel like it!

What did you set out to achieve in creating Teenage Dreams, and what can audiences expect from the performance?

All I knew is that I wanted to do some type of show that had Katy Perry’s catalogue intertwined with it. I was then approached by TAM Presents to do a cabaret and the brief was to make it about top 40 divas and without even a second thought I said “I already know what I want to do” and since then I’ve been choosing songs I love from the radio and seeing what topics arise from that. Shazam, we have ourselves a cabaret! The show’s through line really is about relationships whether that be with lovers, friends, apps, money or even food (yep!). We’ve found narrative within the pop songs we’ve chosen and they perfectly summarise every anecdote we share with our audience. If you can’t
relate to our show in some kind of way, let us know, we’ll find a way to make it suit you too. Hehe.

Do you see Cabaret as heading in a particular direction, either in terms of style or musically, and how do you feel your own work bucks or sits within these trends?

These days, Cabaret really has no rules and trying to put it into certain boxes or labels doesn’t seem to work in your favour. I learnt this a couple of years ago when watching my peers create their own shows and once I opened my mind to having no limits in what I appreciate & enjoy, cabaret and what it “means” became a genre I knew I wanted to be apart of for the rest of my career. I still believe in a classic “singer & piano player” format (like Liza Minelli) in cabarets but bringing current top 40 radio hits infused with the arrangements (created by my amazing Music Director Luke Volker), we’ve achieved a completely modern twist to what we have previously heard and known.

What are some of your favourite “pop moments” of recent times?

Katy Perry, Beyonce & Madonna really out did themselves with their Super Bowl Half Time Show’s in the last few years, truly showcasing why they’ve been put on this Earth to do what they do. Speaking of Katy Perry, can we quickly mention the fact that she is the only female to have levelled Michael Jackson’s record for most #1’s from one album? That woman & her team know how to write pop anthems that people can’t get rid of! So inspiring!

Do you feel there is a difference between Melbourne and Brisbane’s cabaret scene, what do you hope to bring to Melbourne that is perhaps different for local audiences?

If there is any difference it is more that Melbourne public are a lot more aware of what is going around them culturally. Cabaret seems to be a lot more celebrated and sought after in Melbourne and Brisbane is in an exciting but still emerging phase of its cultural appreciation and I cannot wait to see what our sunny city holds in the near future. In regards to what I bring? I can only expect to be 100% myself and to let these new audiences in Melbourne feel how I feel when I sing my songs and share the stories. This show wasn’t written to “change the game” or even “reinvent the wheel”
but rather step up to the plate of so many great cabarets and bring my clever, quirky outlook on life with a dash of great musicianship. I’m proud of what we have and I’m pregnant with excitement to unleash Teenage Dreams amongst a brand new Melbourne audience!

Teenage Dreams opens on Wednesday the 3rd of August at The Butterfly Club, it sure to be an awesome show, for more information or to buy your tickets click here

Mothers Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin

Mothers Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin is wickedly dark a seductive performance that retraces the story of one of history’s arguably most iconic drinks. From the times of prohibition in London circa 1751 to more recent times, the factual referencing of Gin that are found dotted throughout this performance proves central to the works success. There is a level of detail that seeps out of every facet of this delicious performance. But if you scratch a little deeper you discover that this performance is perhaps on a secondary level; focused on dealing also with themes surrounding feminism not just in the here and now but, as with much of this performance, in the historical sense. All together it provides greater perspective to both the narrative and to the performance in a broader context.

Musically, the performance weaves together songs made famous by the likes of Shirley Bassey, The Pretenders and even Martha Wainwright. The arrangement is second to none, from the outset it is successful in creating a cracking rhythm of which continues throughout. Relying on such iconic songs has allowed for a sense of comradery with the audience, at one point, they joined with the performers in a rousing rendition of Piano Man. As with many cabaret performances, audience participation was in some scenes central to the work, but what helped propel this device beyond “the norm”, was the infectious sense of energy and fun.

The voices of Maeve Marsden and Libby Wood are both soulful, with an impressive range, that is allowed to shine through the slick arrangement and musical direction given by Jeremy Brennan, their knock out vocals only matched by their onstage deliverance, energy and sheer sassiness- of which the give out in spades.

Jeremy Brennan, who joins both Marsden and Libby in Mothers Ruin tying the whole experience together on piano accompaniment, brings another dimension to this performance, and provides just the right level of “spunk” with his on stage persona.

Not relying on lighting or any other theatrical bells and whistles in turn helps expose just how polished this work is, and others can be, if there is a tight narrative and well thought out concept from which a performance is built around. This show is quality, no two ways about it, possibly the best cabaret performance of 2016, easily proving that there is life and indeed talent outside of Melbourne’s ever buzzing scene, it sets a bench mark high, and is a great point of reference for other aspiring cabaret performers and producers.

Mothers Ruin: A Cabaret About Gin is playing at The Butterfly Club until Sunday the 19th of June, be sure to check it out, book your tickets here

First World White Girls

The butterfly club have really out-done themselves for this years Melbourne Cabaret Festival, adding to the already heady mix of top notch performances scheduled to play at this much loved Melbourne icon during this years festival is First World White Girls. The story surrounds Tiffany, a trust fund princess, and Kendall, a day-drinking trophy wife, delve into the trauma of first world problems. They deal with kale shortages, un-bespoke furniture, battle FOMO and in times of crisis, ask themselves, What Would Kim Kardashian Do? These spoiled songstresses invite the audience into their den of entitlement to laugh, vent and share in their first world pain.  Hailing from Brisbane, this performance is the creative love child of Judy Hainsworth and Kaitlin Oliver Parker, it comes fresh from a sell out season at Adelaide Fringe Season and Queensland tour, they had a chat with writer Jessi Lewis, a fellow Brisbanite, about what it’s like coming from “the sunshine state” white privilege, and first world problems.
 
Girls, explain for our readers what it’s like living in Brisbane, do your characters in this performance some how embody the “new breed” of Brisbanite?
 
Brisbane has changed a lot, even in just the last ten years. It used to be that you’d have to go to Sydney or Melbourne to shop at Zara or get Krispy Kreme donuts, but now Brisbane has stepped up in terms of luxury brands, restaurants and lifestyle. Just walk down James St in New Farm or the Emporium in the Valley and check out the (sometimes obscene) wealth on display. We totally hold our own now, just on a smaller scale.
 
The #FirstWorldWhiteGirls, Tiffany and Kendall, embody this affluence and luxury. But they’ve taken it to the extreme – metres of hair extensions, dogs in handbags, tax-evading husbands. And they top it off with an overwhelming sense of entitlement and white privilege. And they still complain about their first world problems. ‘My house is too big for my wifi’. ‘My cleaning lady parks in my driveway’.
 
Talk to us about Brisbane, is it better then Melbourne?
 
I should probably suck up to you Melbourne-ites so you’ll come see my show, but…Brisbane all the way, baby! For me, it’s all about the weather. It rains maybe five days a year up here. How can you argue with that?? And we’re an hour away from some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, nay, the world. Beautiful blue skies, less traffic, and winter lasts about two weeks. Although I wish I had more opportunities to wear my awesome beanies and coats… Sure, Melbourne’s cultural scene is richer, you’ve got more cool bars and restaurants and your laneways are pretty awesome, but you’re a bit bleak for someone from the sunshine state.
 
What can people expect from the show musically?
 
The show has all original songs (written by me) and they’re super catchy. There’s a few different musical styles – 60s swing, some pop, R&B, country and even a bit of rap. We ask that age-old question – can white girls rap? Come and judge for yourself! Kaitlin (who plays Kendall) and I are both trained singers so we love harmonising and getting a chance to show off our voices. The most common bit of feedback we get after the show is ‘you’re such good singers!’. But I have a theory that people just say that because they would feel awkward saying ‘you’re such horrible bitches!’ (our characters of course, not us…).
 
What do you hope Audiences will take away from this show, behind the comedy, is there a message you are trying to communicate?
 
We want the audience to have an awesome night with their crew, have a few drinks and laugh themselves stupid at these ridiculous women. We also want them to share their first world problems with us and maybe they’ll realise they have more in common with these girls than they first thought. Audiences will also probably take away with them some of my hair – my cheap extensions are moulting like crazy.
 
Aside from Brisbane, are their any other points of inspirations, pop culture, celebrity etc?
 
Pop culture is our main inspiration – The Voice, macarons, food trucks, fitbits, Nutribullets – everything is fair game. The idea of celebrity is a huge part of the show. Kim Kardashian was a big inspiration – there is a whole song devoted to her. I really had to research it because I knew nothing about her – I thought she was the devil. How can you be famous just for being famous? That’s not a thing! But now I know more about her, I have to admit she’s an amazing businesswoman. And I downloaded her mobile phone game for ‘research’ and I’m totally addicted. #help
 
Famous last words?
 
In the words of Tiffany and Kendall – First world problems are real problems! Let your privilege shine, Melbourne.
 
First World White Girls opens on Friday the 17th of June, it’s certain to be a smash hit with local audiences, avoid disappointment, book your tickets here