THE Canberra season of the Short + Sweet series saw cabaret added to the bill for the first time. This was a delightful showcase of primarily local talent, both established and relatively inexperienced.
The boundaries of “cabaret” were blurry. The show began with a slightly more traditional cabaret number – the curvy Ivy Ambrosia sang “Peel me a Grape” while tastefully removing clothing, but this was followed by the “naughty nurse” Abel Fox, decked out in red sequins and sparkles from head to toe. At first she resembled a pocket-sized, raven-haired Jessica Rabbit, before her perfectly-fitted, floor length dress was tossed aside and the routine launched into downright stripping to Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine”. This raised the question if perhaps the show had peaked too soon, along with the enthusiasm of the audience in the front row.
But the show unfolded smoothly and the acts contained a variety of styles.
Dressed in a tux and sporting a severe black haircut and imposing stature, Tiffany Blue confidently performed a creative and polished routine to Prince’s “Kiss”.
Heather – dressed in a gorgeous, black corset and frills, looked the part of a cabaret or burlesque girl, but needed a gutsier rendition of her songs, including “Fever” to be convincing. She would benefit from tightening and adding to the choreography so that she has more to do, especially with her arms.
Heather and the girls aptly handled the small audience and limited number of men, who obliged or backed away, terrified, in aiding with the removal of a stocking, or holding of a cigarette.
The audience was also entertained by the unexpected, at least for this reviewer, inclusion of a male act, Captain Spitfire. He managed to elicit laughter by his mere presence and whilst not actually doing much in the routine, still entertained. It was crass but funny and has surely changed the way the audience will look at Twisties. And men in trench coats at movie theatres.
Seasoned professional Liz Lea gave a polished and entertaining performance of “Bluebird” – a work previously seen, but this time with more cheekiness, and definitely more leg. Lea provided an elegant and sophisticated element to the show and with metres of shimmering, blue material and a creative way of using it, she showed that putting fabric on can be just as entertaining as taking it off.
A couple of the acts had sound issues, with mics cutting in and out during the singing. The bridging music between acts was suitably in keeping with the feel of the show.
Just when it seemed the night belonged to the brunettes, guest artist Chrys Columbine appeared. The blonde British multi-tasker is a proficient pianist as well as cabaret and burlesque performer. As she played the piano, she smoothly and adeptly removed items of clothes, shrugging off her cropped jacket, ruffles, and bra.
Piano recital complete, Columbine returned moments later with black feather fans. As Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful” from the Great Gatsby soundtrack played, Columbine completely embodied the lyrics, in a perfect song choice. Her huge dark eyes, Marilyn-esque hair and fragile appearance suited the Hollywood golden era mood. This and an air of aloofness gave a melancholy irony to the lyrics “Will You Still Love me when I’m no Longer Young and Beautiful”. The routine was simple and instead of using the fans to cover herself as is usually done, she was modestly on display, however it was hard to look away from her face to glimpse at the rest of her.
A perfect end to a thoroughly fun production.