BWW Review: LE QUARTIER KABARETT NO. 1 at Domain Theatre, Marion Cultural Centre
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Friday 6th September 2019.
Le Quartier Kabarett No. 1 (The District Cabaret No. 1) is, as the title suggests, the first of what Velvet Chase Productions hopes will become an ongoing event. The combination of French and German in the title reflects the quirkiness of the works that have been presented by Velvet Chase over the years, and this is no exception. Within the production itself there is a juxtaposition of thematic material, with, of course, cabaret seating, a little of the great tradition of Berlin Kabarett during the German Weimar Republic between the wars, a smattering of naughty French cabaret, and a touch of the American speakeasy, with both traditional and reinterpreted contemporary music from a jazz group.
With the band positioned to the audience's right, the remainder of the stage had a small bar to the far left, a raised platform with a tall standard lamp near the bar, that later became a dance pole, and a table with two chairs roughly centre stage, with plenty of space downstage centre for performances.
Directed and produced by Dannielle Candida, the event was hosted by Melbourne performer, Miss Friby, who takes no prisoners. She sings up a storm and also contributes several of her own acts, including an exhausting Can-Can, and ends by having her dinner. Her choice of dinner music, In the Hall of the Mountain King, from Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite, should be enough to tell you that this was not a quiet repast, by any means.
Some of the music was recorded but most of it was live, performed by a recently formed group, The Underachievers, who are anything but. Past and present students of the School of Jazz Studies at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, they came together especially for this production but are already committed, thankfully, to staying together, so watch out for them. The group consists of Matthew Gelling , leader, arranger and guitarist, Spiro Kolovos, double bass, Cam Tonkin, drums, and Robert Hamood, tenor saxophone, with two vocalists, Kelly Doddridge and Sarah Brownridge, taking turns to sing the wide range of songs, going back to the early days of jazz with St. James Infirmary Blues, visiting the Great American Songbook, and, inspired by the group, Postmodern Jukebox, swinging some more modern tunes, including David Bowie's Space Oddity and Radiohead's Creep. One extra thing that I would have liked was a duet or two. Perhaps next time.
The owner of the very well known and respected Adelaide group, Peaches'n'Gin Burlesque, Sapphire Snow, appeared solo and, later, in a duo with fellow member, Leila Jeanne. The talented duo presented some impressive Charleston, as well as some lively striptease numbers. They proved as popular as ever.
Then there is the hired help, the bartender who gets lumbered with all of the fetching and carrying. Left to his own devices, Cam Waters headed for that aforementioned standard lamp, climbed it, removed that lampshade, and, in a remarkable performance, showed exactly why he was a Mr. Poleworld 2019 finalist.
Even Velvet Chase, herself, made a surprise appearance, popping out of a giant cake to join the company for the final bows.
The audience clearly loved every moment of the evening and there is definitely an overwhelming incentive to produce further performances in this format. Watch out for future iterations of Le Quartier Kabarett, and be sure to book early.
In the meantime, there are other Velvet Chase Productions works coming up over the next few months that you really should attend.
On Friday October 11th at 2pm the highly acclaimed and internationally successful landmark performance, #nofilter, will be performing at the Festival of Now for mental health week.
As part of the 2019 Feast Festival, the fifth season of #nofilter will also be performed this November at Tandanya on Thursday14th, Friday 15th, and Saturday 16th, at 8:45pm, and on Sunday 17th at 6:30pm.
The Adelaide Fringe 2020 will see productions of #nofilter, and Gorelesque: Girls Of Gore Villainesque (a world premiere burlesque show based on Villains). Venues, dates, and times to be announced.
As always, with Velvet Chase Productions performances, early booking is imperative.