ENTERTAINING, COLOURFUL, SPARKLY, ‘TIGHT’
Produced & organised by Courtney L'amour
Hosted by Barnaby Barker
at San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St, Wellington
20 Sep 2013
Reviewed by Maryanne Cathro, 22 Sep 2013
When Wellington got its earthquake shimmy on last month, Cabaret L'Amour had to cancel its August show at Bats Understudy Bar, as the city emptied out for the evening.
Not to be held back by a mere force of Nature, producer Courtney L'Amour rescheduled for 20 September at The San Francisco Bathhouse. The weather tried again to thwart the show, this time with a thunder storm. From all this attention-seeking behaviour one could be forgiven for thinking the Elements want to get in on the action!
In a way the reschedule is a blessing as The San Fran is a great venue for cabaret with its large, high stage and good acoustics. We get to see the performances properly, even the floor work.
A good variety of acts feature tonight: both traditional and modern burlesque performances, a troupe dance number and some talented vocals; a couple of old favourites and some brand new acts. The show is pacey, interesting, funny and of course, entertaining. That is after all, what cabaret and burlesque are all about.
Reviewing a show like this is tricky – does one write a little about every performance, or take it on as the sum of its parts? In the same way that a banquet menu comprises a series of individual dishes that nevertheless appear in a carefully considered order, a cabaret also needs some sense of structure. With no theme or story tying the acts together, it comes down to style and energy. This show has a good arc of both, starting with the upbeat but demure closing the first half with a strong ensemble piece, and building to a spectacular last act.
Lady Cash-mere and The Velvet Whip open with an homage to Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen's routine ‘Sisters' from the movie White Christmas. They capture the charm and class of this number, and add some layers of humour that go beyond the original, and that I hope they will continue to explore as the act develops. This is the beauty of cabaret – every act is a mini show that will grow and change over time, so that even a second or third viewing can continue to surprise and delight.
Clever Hansel (Hans Landon-Lane) slinks and struts – and ruts! – his way through a Weimar Era take on Britney Spears. As one would expect from such a combination, his performance is witty, satirical and hilarious.
Les Folies de L'Amour, who are better known for their can-can, surprise us this evening with The Cellblock Tango. What I notice about this number is how strong each performer is in her own right, while also working well as a troupe. Let's hope Les Folies continue to branch out and explore the possibilities of ensemble performing.
Fanciforia Foxglove brings bubbly energy and humour to both of her spots in the show. Lady Cash-mere's first solo appearance since winning the Miss Burly Q is a slinky feline number with a delightful twist in the tail. Anna Miranda sings torch song in true 1930's diva style. Willow Noir dazzles us with flying sparks!
It is all and everything that a good burlesque based cabaret show should be. Entertaining, colourful, sparkly, and best of all, ‘tight'. This is a lot down to MC Barnaby Barker (Eli Joseph), a diffident young man who claims he wasn't fully aware of “the true nature of the evening's entertainment”. Joseph keeps the acts moving at a goodly pace, while adding a little narrative cohesion to the evening. He even delivers a tuneful rendition of ‘Lullaby of Broadway' to open the second half.
Even in the face of Acts of Nature, I am confident that Cabaret L'amour will keep delivering great shows.
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