Geraldine Quinn has always admired a particular kind of woman: self-assured, unapologetic, brassy. As a young woman, collecting caftans from op shops, she found it ironic to mimic these characters, but the irony is now over for the 48-year-old performer and she is more herself than ever.
Broad is an hour of original songs, jokes and references to women who have inspired the performer. Quinn uses these elements to tell her own story of growth and authenticity. One of the most relatable references in Broad is Miss Hannigan, played by Carol Burnett in the 1980s film Annie, who was an early inspiration for Quinn.
There are also references to Australia’s own Rhonda Burchmore, Agnes Moorehead from the iconic television series Bewitched, and English fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. This is a niche group, which Quinn playfully acknowledges, but her storytelling allows audiences to better understand the women.
Quinn’s performance is sensational. Her voice is powerful, her jokes are witty and her stage presence is enchanting. The music is the highlight of the show, and through lyrical wit and intelligence, she uses the tunes to explore a range of topics.
Somehow, alongside the central theme of bold, brassy broads, Quinn seamlessly incorporates her experience of lockdown (and enjoying the “stink” of the audience now that she’s back in the room with them), the sense of being single and childless at Christmas (she refers to herself as one of “the marginalised” in a cheeky Christmas song), and her relationship with the internet as a jungle of discovery during COVID.
Broad showcases cabaret at its best. Wearing drag make-up – which she describes as a kind of armour for regaining her confidence after some precarious years – and decked out in a sequinned dress and a wig that epitomises “big, bold and brassy”, Quinn has created an empowering show for women who don’t always have the opportunity to take up space on stage.
She is accompanied by Melbourne-based pianist Cameron Thomas, who is thoroughly entertaining – not just at the piano, but in a cameo dance performance where he steals the show.
Broad is not only a tribute to the women that resonated with Quinn as a young person; it is also a tribute to the performer herself. At the conclusion, as she stands proud in a leotard and caftan, having a drink, it is clear this award-winning artist has earned this. She has become the exact icon that she’s always admired.
Broad was presented at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Banquet Room as part of the 2023 Adelaide Cabaret Festival, which has now ended.
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