Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A Night At The Musicals - Cabaret Review

What: A Night At The Musicals
When: 18 - 22 January
Where: Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
Performed by: Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo

Le Gateau Chocolat
You may think 'you've seen one musicals cabaret, you've seen them all' but nothing could be further from the truth with A Night At The Musicals now playing in the Fairfax Studio for Midsumma Festival. Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo have created an evening of experiences which are fun, intelligent and fall on the floor funny which brought the house down last night and had people jumping out of their seats to give them an ovation.

There were a few tried and true numbers, but most of the evening consisted of very surprising choices performed in unexpected ways. Rather than just being a 'best of' type of show, Chocolat and Woo have put together a clever commentary (I wouldn't call it parody), playfully poking loving fun at the tropes of musical performances common across the globe.

Beginning with a prelude to match any of the grand operas and which leaves the audience guessing, the pair work their way through Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Chess, and Frozen to name only a few. Playing with the songs themselves, performances, and even staging elements - wait till you see how cheeky production gets - the audience are taken through a gamut of hijinks, high kicks, and high emotions.

As all of us girls know, fashion is never a competition (yeah, right!), but I have to say Le Gateau Chocolat won the best gowns of the evening award leaving Jonny Woo to petulantly concede and hide in the shadows. His sparkles and spangles and fringing and frou frou perfectly matched his mellifluous baritone voice which gave 'Let It Go' an oddly nuanced and touching edge, ending with theatrics Bonnie Tyler would be proud of.

Not to be outdone, Woo plays the entire cast of Les Miserables in a feat of theatrical genius. His vibrant tenor created beautiful harmonies between the two of them and my favourite moment of the evening was their totally straight duet 'I Know Him So Well'.

I absolutely loved this show and I realised one of the reasons I was having a good time is that despite all the drag and the touch of camp, this is one female impersonation show which does not demean or deride femininity, something which bugs me in the cabaret industry at large. Chocolat and Woo understand that it is enough to 'be', it doesn't have to be forced. As such, we could all sit back and enjoy their art and laugh with them rather than feeling attacked.

I had no idea what to expect before I went to see A Night At The Musicals but this show is a gift. If you are a musicals fanatic you will probably get even more laughs out if it than I did, but you only have to have been alive in a populated area to still get heaps of laughs from a genre which sometimes feels like it is wrapping it's tentacles around the theatre industry.

A slightly sleepy start hides the true impact A Night At The Musicals has as it unfolds and draws forth titters which grow into gales of laughter. I did not want the show to end. If this an indication of what we are going to see this Midsumma we are in for a cracker of a Festival!

4.5 Stars

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