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Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2013
Boomers Behaving Badly
Written by & starring Jane Keller
with Michael Nicholas Williams on the Piano
Directed by KC Kelly

at Victorian Garden Conservatory, Hamilton gardens, Hamilton
From 25 Feb 2013 to 27 Feb 2013
[1hr 30min, incl. interval]

Reviewed by Gail Pittaway, 26 Feb 2013

Jane Keller's one woman show is mostly musical with a bit of reminiscent stand-up comedy thrown in.  With her excellent vocal range, from a background in music and theatre, and flair for facial manoeuvres, Keller is a great comedienne and more than satisfies a crowd of grey haired boomers, with a few Gen Y‘s thrown in for colour.

The music is cabaret in style with some jazzy numbers, like one about a cougar on the prowl, some more sweetly sarcastic in tone like Sondheim, while others pay homage to Lehrer and Victoria Wood. There are even some sad numbers to sigh over.

The lyrics are as funny as the delivery and Michael Nicholas Williams on the keyboard is more than a match for this dame, brandishing eyebrows with the keys, to chip in a punch line on several of the songs.

It's a smooth and funny night of laughs delivered by experts, one that deserves the full houses it has received in the Victorian Conservatory: a hot house turned hot bed for the night. 

The show seems to have arisen out of an invitation to attend her high school year's 40th anniversary and what has happened in those four decades to Keller and her school friends. She looks at the phenomena associated with being born between 1946 and 1964 – the speed of aging, the several rounds of marriages, divorces, body work, drinking, sex, and more drinking – that characterise this generation (yes well, mine!). Although drawing from a mostly American background of high school, proms and Co-ed College, the experiences are not lost on the audience and we identify with the songs of feeling left out, ugly, not in the in-crowd, or songs of revenge or lust.

As with all good comedy acts Keller is unafraid to exploit herself as subject matter and revels in her own misdemeanours and moments of awkwardness.  There are some delectable moments of tongue twisting text; notably a parody of the ‘Girl from Ipanema' with a lengthy Brazilian place name full of lisps, about a boy she met on her travels, and a number about macho men that makes musical references to television western themes. 

The show lifts a notch in energy as the subjects lower in tone in the second half. There is a great number about how to speak French with the lips and the hips in Paris, one in praise of bald men which causes much rollicking in the aisles. The song about loving oneself has to be heard to be believed.  But my favourite was the encore: nothing about Boomers, but a tribute to Altos who never get to sing the main tune. It sums up all the talent and wit of a night out with this excellent entertainer. 
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 Vicki Thorpe
 Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] (The Dominion Post);
 Michael Wray