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Sass, satire and sparkle at Cabaret Fringe


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The 2014 Cabaret Fringe Festival opened to a packed audience in the intimate La Bohème, with chairs squeezed between tables, in walkways and up against the bar.

Every space was occupied as fabulous MC Candy Chambers, sporting bright orange curls and a sparkling dress, welcomed the crowd with a cabaret-style rendition of Pink’s “Get the Party Started”.

The Opening Night Gala offered a taste of the range of sassy, sexy, sophisticated and smooth acts audiences can expect in the 2014 Cabaret Fringe which, in its seventh year, will feature more than 100 performances across 10 venues.

First up was Libby Parker and Matthew Trainor, whose Box Set Blues is based on the television shows we love, hate, and love to hate. The concept is very funny and includes original songs, although it does become repetitive as the performance proceeds.

“Back to Back” is Back, by Morgan Welch, includes a melancholy version of Adele’s “Take It All”. Welch’s voice is powerful, layered and a pleasure to experience. Her show promises to be a musical delight – it doesn’t have the humour of some performances, but there’s plenty of passion and big ballads to please audiences.

La Chanson, by David Corkill, Gillian Hunter and Sophia MacRae, takes the audience through a history of French music, in French. The vocals are beautifully sweet and gentle, but a lack of coordination detracted from the group’s gala performance.

Carla Conlin delivered the most entertaining character of the night, from her solo show Where’s My Pony? (And Other Stories of Betrayal). Her spoiled little girl character is adorable and unintentionally funny, acting on every small whim to great amusement.

Hew Parham’s Giovanni’s Buono Voyago Fiesta is not the musical act one might expect. He presents a character – an Italian waiter – telling a story, with an instrumental background and deliberate rhythm. Most of the jokes draw a laugh; some possibly cross the line of acceptable crudity.

After the intermission, Candy Chambers (played by Jamie Jewell), sang a lovely story about learning to express arousal on cue, after years as a porn star. Her show, 50 Forever, promises many more tales from a colourful past, sung with great zeal and no small amount of talent.

Tess Coleman and Michael Liddle, from Hallelujah, are like a happy married couple singing to their children, with soothing voices, a ukulele and a guitar. As the title hints, the show is a tribute to Leonard Cohen, and the duo give a laidback performance, with no audience participation required.

The Sights and Sounds of Paris introduces Fred Fudara, a man who is passionate about both Paris and his guitar, and is eager to share his two loves. His original song in tribute to the venue, La Bohème, is a highlight. Is it French? Potentially.

With the show name Girl on the Drink: the lager continues, one might expect humour from Annie Siegmann, but there was none in her short gala segment. Siegmann’s voice, however, is beautifully strong, clear and captivating.

Classy singer Michaela Burger and guitar player Greg Wain deliver an interpretation of Edith Piaf’s French pop songs in Exposing Edith, which is sung in French, with contemporary instrumentation (acoustic guitar with loop, delay and effect pedals). Burger had one of the strongest voices of the Opening Night Gala.

Candy Chambers closed the show with a cabaret flashmob, the highlight of which was the number of restarts, with a possible slightly tipsy pianist and “a font issue”. It was fun, loud and energetic – which pretty much reflects the best of what the Cabaret Fringe Festival is all about.

The 2014 Cabaret Fringe Festival runs from June 1-29. The full program is online.

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