Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen: Dead Men Tell A Thousand Tales

TSB Bank Mainstage, Nelson

21/10/2012 - 22/10/2012

Nelson Arts Festival 2012

Production Details

Dripping with romance, adventure and desire…  

Dead Men Tell A Thousand Tales is a collection of darkly humorous, highly emotive songs and stories exploring death as a vital and essential celebration of life.

With the charming crooner Mikelangelo at their helm, the Black Sea Gentlemen plunge headlong into a netherworld of intrigue and imagination. Swoon to the tune of Rufino the Catalan Casanova, thrill to the tale of The Great Muldavio, witness Guido Libido – master of a thousand faces, and delight in Little Ivan the song and dance man.

Dead Men Tell A Thousand Tales is a deliciously macabre ‘Kabaret Noir’ with breathtakingly beautiful theatrical vision. Through songs, stories and theatrical vignettes, a fantastical world is mapped out and populated with a cast of gargoyles and demons, angels and crows, doomed sailors and spectral gunfighters, whistling soldiers and dancing skeletons.

This amazing musical adventure has entertained and beguiled audiences and critics, playing major arts festivals and theatres worldwide, including the Edinburgh Fringe, Sydney Opera House and London’s West End.

‘The energy and humour that drives the performance is highly infectious and constantly amusing, but beyond that Mikelangelo and his black-clad gents are seriously superb musicians’.  The List

TSB Bank Mainstage
Sun 21 Oct 8.30pm, Mon 22 Oct 7:30pm
80 minutes, no interval 

GA seating:Early Bird$44 • Full $48
Plus service fee

Everyman Records, 03 548 3083 or book online here

Darkly quirky, ironic cabaret at its best

Review by Ruth Allison 23rd Oct 2012

The spelling of Mikelangelo, the question of whether men from the Black Sea could be ‘gentlemen’ and the fact that dead men are supposed not to be able to tell tales should be a dead cert for clues that this will be no ordinary performance. 

If you hadn’t picked it from this then you will surely be alerted by the appearance of Mikelangelo himself, the sartorial ‘nightingale of the Adriatic’ who insists on repeating his entrance because “the lighting girl has not got the spot light right.”

This masterful, Elvis look-alike and slick crooner weaves a tight web of intrigue, irony, satire and daredevilry around his audience like a shiny black spider coaxing the innocent fly into his fatal trap. This is anything but an ordinary performance, in a finely crafted, darkly funny, dead-pan production.

The lucky audience is treated to a festival of song, dancing with instruments, macabre stories which appear not to end, harmonies that make your hair curl, individual stunning performances by the ‘gentlemen’, breath-takingly audacious lyrics – “sodomy is not just for animals” – all energised by the deliciously quiffed Mikelangelo who thinks nothing of taking out his comb to give that said quiff extra height and smoothness.  

These are seriously superb musicians and the audience is spell-bound. No sooner have we figured out the words of ‘Skeletons Waiting for Salvation’ than we are thrown into world of the battlefield with pipes and drums.  Harmonica, violin, clarinet, double bass, guitars and myriad percussive instruments – among them, castanets and rattles – are handled with consummate ease and skill.

The Great Moldavio, “snake-charmer of the clarinet”, Guido Libido, “master of a thousand faces”, Rufino, “Catalan Casanova” and Little Ivan, “ruthless ballroom dancer” are a suspect bunch of musos from the Balkans and with the very seedy Mikeangelo at their helm they whirl their way through a charade of charismatic musical antics.

Highlights for me are the wildly intense Rufino – “I’m glad you like me” – telling his tale of the glass eye and the “struggle to be human”, the swinging ‘Know Your Enemy’ of the double bass, the spoof ‘10 Long Years in the Saddle’, and the deliciously nasty ‘On Invisible Wings’.

The whole lot is the creation of Mikelangelo. Mikelangelo is his name, and that’s it. No surname. No Smith, Brown, or Bloggs. “It’s like Sting,” he says. And like Sting he has created an extraordinary world.

At the end, in a rare moment of non irony he gives a soulful rendition of ‘Blue Smoke’ but even then his audience suspects more than a little foul play.

This is cabaret at its very best; it’s darkly quirky, ironic best. 


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