Viewing entries tagged
The Candy Shop Show

Review: The Lounge Suite

Comment

Review: The Lounge Suite

Dale Pengelly’s Lounge Suite is a two-hour song and dance show packed with anecdotes, tap-dancing, high-kicks, and even opportunities for audience participation. The program combines Dean Martin-style/’rat-pack’ classics with a sequence of musical theatre numbers—all threaded together with some of the many highlights from Dale’s 36+ years in showbusiness. 

Pictured (L to R): Maureen Bowra, Dale Pengelly and Jenny Usher. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured (L to R): Maureen Bowra, Dale Pengelly and Jenny Usher. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The Lounge Suite isn’t purely a one-man show. Hello Dolly was a great choice for the opening number, with close harmonies provided by the Candy Shop Show’s Maureen Bowra and Jenny Usher, who returned to the stage at different points during the evening—including encouraging and leading the audience in two great participation numbers. For example, Everybody Loves Somebody was a fantastic choice as an audience participation number, and everyone certainly had as much fun with the fans as Dale did performing that one.

Pictured:  Everybody Loves Somebody . Dale Pengelly (centre), with fans. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Everybody Loves Somebody. Dale Pengelly (centre), with fans. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The “story-time” anecdotes were well-chosen and kept the audience enthralled as names were “dropped” left, right, and centre. Great to see both photographs and video illustrating Dale’s cv—in particular, the Paula Yates dance lesson (by Dale and Hot Shoe Shuffle colleagues) which led into the enjoyable performance of  L-O-V-E.  Suitable changes of pace ranged from the entertaining and well-choreographed Sway and the cast having fun with Amore (using the lounge at the back of the stage to great effect), through to the touching Tenterfield Saddler (introduced as “my tribute to Todd McKenney”).

Musical theatre is no easy gig. From his early days in State and National ballet companies, Dale moved on to performing/understudying some of the major roles in musical theatre (with many national and international tours), as well directing and choreographing a number of shows. To maintain a steady program of work over a period spanning almost four decades is impressive—particularly when the performer can still tap dance and high-kick in the way that he does. Just watch out for the high-kicking in New York, New York!  The audience certainly got their value for money, with over 20 pieces including dance solos, a voice solo by Maureen, and two dance duets featuring Jenny (Rich Man’s Frug with Maureen, and You Were Meant for Me with Dale).

Pictured: Dale Pengelly. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative FUtures Photography.

Pictured: Dale Pengelly. Picture Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative FUtures Photography.

I am sure that The Lounge Suite would work well as a Dean Martin tribute show, leaving ‘my life in musical theatre’ as a separate piece. It would have been great to see this Show with a larger audience (but the crew attending on 25th May had a ball), and perhaps better sound monitors onstage for the performers. But at $30 for a 2-hour program of music and dance, I am sure the audience didn’t feel short-changed.

Verdict: I would love to see this with a live band. Look out for future opportunities to see Dale Pengelly.

Audience tip: Easy on-site parking, and great value drinks and food available at the Queensland Russian Community Group, Woolloongabba. A two-hour show (including a 20-minute interval).

Tickets at the Anywhere Festival website. $30. Friday and Saturday performances during Anywhere Festival 2018 (11, 12, 18, 19, 25 & 26 May. All 7:30pm with one 3pm matinee [19 May]. Presented by Pengelly Productions at Anywhere Festival,  at the Kenmore Retro Bar, and Woolloongabba  Queensland Russian Community Group. Suitable for audiences of any age.

Catherine Lawrence

Pictured (L to R): Maureen Bowra, Dale Pengelly and Jenny Usher. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured (L to R): Maureen Bowra, Dale Pengelly and Jenny Usher. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The reviewer attended the Friday 25th  May performance at the Queensland Russian Community Group, Woolloongabba. Pictures Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Comment

Review: The Anywhere Festival 2015

Comment

Review: The Anywhere Festival 2015

Pictured: Anywhere Festival at the Toowong Bowls Club. Picture Credit Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

Pictured: Anywhere Festival at the Toowong Bowls Club. Picture Credit Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The last few weeks have been an enjoyable, challenging, enlightening, and entertaining time. No, I haven’t been on holiday. But I have been on a tour of many “new” places in Brisbane—or at least, places that were almost all new to me, and certainly were seen in a new light. Performance spaces I have visited this month included a bowls club, community centre, cafes, rehearsal spaces, pub back rooms, CBD offices, an antiques centre, and a car park. Anywhere. So much so that, when describing the festival to friends, I have taken to describing it as the “Anywhere but”  festival (that is, anywhere but a theatre).

For the Anywhere Festival is a great concept. It reminded me of days past, supporting a student show as we scraped together the money for a production which travelled to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In a way, the Anywhere Festival is a fringe festival without the distractions of events taking place in the main stage spaces. A chance for those works in progress to build confidence (and contacts), test the waters, and make changes before they fully step out into the world.

I am happy to report that the Brisbane has an arts community that is alive and kicking, as it steps out into the world. In the case of The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret, definitely high kicking. There are a number of talented playwrights, directors, actors, and performers who have spent the last few months in an intensive period of writing, developing and producing shows to bring many of the nooks and crannies across Brisbane to life.  And, in doing so, managed to entertain audiences, create happy memories, and provoke discussions and debates that have sometimes continued for many days.   

Of course, the 2015 Brisbane Anywhere Festival has not all been local talent. It was great to see that the success of the event has attracted performers from further afield, who have raised the money to bring their shows over to Brisbane. For example, the Perth-based Toy Soldier Children’s Theatre Company brought The Happy Prince to the Parlour at the State Library of Queensland. And I am glad they did, as it appeared to be a perfect transition from family story-time to theatre-going; a charming, gentle, magical event which entertained an enraptured audience.

This was not the only show which took inspiration from history, or from earlier works. The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret delivered on the promise of a “delicious journey through the 20s, 30s, and 40s,” as well as teasing out more contemporary references to the Jazz Age. Students at the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts went much further back in time for their inspiration—bringing a highly physical and fast-paced production of a 1743 play, The Servant of Two Masters , to their car park.  A number of productions I saw drew on 1800’s.  Of course this includes the re-telling of Oscar Wilde’s 1888 short story in The Happy Prince. But also The Poor Slob & The Good Fairy centred on a film re-imagining of an 1899 Parisian cabaret script by Alphonse Allais. And the Flowers Theatre Company production of their new play, The Mayne Effect, also invited us to step back in time; to reflect on the treatment of the Mayne family, and the effect of the rumours swirling around the 1865 deathbed confession of Patrick Mayne.

Many of the shows were new works, often appearing for the first time as works in progress. It’s a brave writer/director/producer/performer who lets us, as audience, take what is almost a look backstage. A time when a new work is taking its first tentative steps out into the world, for feedback and constructive criticism, must be difficult at the best of times. It must be even harder when you have had to put the work together with little or no external funding, prevailing on the support and encouragement of friends and family.

So it was particularly interesting to see that the new works had family and relationships as a recurring theme; what Alexander Bayliss had one of the characters in Learning to Love Gravity describeas  “the ones that complete us: our friends, our family…our gravity.”  I was lucky to see some great new works. Nathaniel Young’s Arrivederci  was probably the funniest show I have seen for a long time.  Alexander Bayliss’s Learning to Love Gravity was fascinating, particularly with the use of physical theatre within a theatrical piece.  Emily Vascotto’s The Mayne Effect challenged us to think about the nature of the rumours that surrounded the Mayne family—and even whether what we know as history might be ‘true.’ And Sophie-Jane Huchet’s Mediocrity (Everything You’ve Ever Wanted) encouraged the audience to reflect on our how we deal with our own “devil within,” and what exactly is “everything” we have “ever wanted.” They were great shows, and I look forward to seeing future developments of each of the productions. I shall be looking out for them.In saying that, I of course also enjoyed the works based on earlier scripts or stories. It was too hard to pick out just one show that I would want to see again. You’d have to go and see them all yourself, and make up your own mind.

Hats off to Paul, Ruby, Alex, and the Anywhere Festival Volunteers. I hope that the producers, directors, and performers involved in all of the Anywhere Festival Brisbane 2015 shows have had at least as much fun as I did. And are inspired to not only continue developing those ‘in progress’ projects, but to think about where they want to be next.  Brace yourselves … all those involved in this year’s event.. I’m going to say it so no groans please…get planning, fundraising and writing now… roll on Anywhere Festival Brisbane 2016.

Catherine Lawrence  

 

Comment

Comment

Review: Jazz Age Dance Cabaret

Pictured: Jenny Usher (Director/Choreographer/Performer), in Top Hat n’Tails, at   The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret  . Picture credit:    Geoff Lawrence .

Pictured: Jenny Usher (Director/Choreographer/Performer), in Top Hat n’Tails, at The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

For an afternoon or evening of sequins, feathers, high-kicks, close harmonies, and energy, there is no better place to be than the Woolloongabba Antique Centre. The Candy Shop Show promised performers singing and dancing their way through the Prohibition and Speakeasy’s of the 20s and 30s and reliving the melodic harmonies of the 1940s. Their production delivered on that promise. I saw the matinee on 9th May, 2015, where Jenny Usher (Director/Choreographer/Performer) was joined on stage by Erin Coates, Maureen Bowra, and Natalie Renouf. The high-energy musical theatre production had plenty of opportunity to see their combined “over 12 metres of legs” as the audience enjoyed a “delicious journey through the 20s, 30s, and 40s.”

The music was well-chosen, there was a wonderful balance between dance and song, and the costumes complemented each of the set-pieces. The cast, ably supported by Kym Brown (stage manager), produces an hour and a half of high-class entertainment that is educational and fun.

Pictured: Jenny Usher, Erin Coates, Maureen Bowra, and Natalie Renouf. à la Moulin Rouge!, in The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Pictured: Jenny Usher, Erin Coates, Maureen Bowra, and Natalie Renouf. à la Moulin Rouge!, in The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Song and dance routines were interspersed with short talks, contextualising the change in dance and musical styles with film excerpts and newsreel footage. This gave the cast a chance to make a number of quick costume changes—moving with a flourish from the flappers of the 20s, to the top hat and tails of the 30s, and Andrew’s sisters-style uniforms of the 40s.  In the second half, the cast touched on a number of aspects of the modern revival of the jazz age—complete with performances of CandyMan (in sailor suits of course), music and dance from Chicago, and even racy red outfits à la Moulin Rouge!

The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

I found myself thinking it would be an ideal Mother’s Day gift: a chance to shop in the Woolloongabba Antique Centre, enjoy interval refreshments at the 1950’s Milk Bar style cafe, and settle the family into vintage cinema seats to enjoy a performance of high-kicks and close harmonies.  Shoppers longingly peeked through the curtains, clearly wishing they’d also invested in a ticket.

Only four more performances remain in the Anywhere Festival Brisbane season. I’d recommend you snap up any remaining tickets if you can. Sequins and feather boas optional (for the audience).

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the matinee performance on 10th May, 2015

Comment