Adelaide Cabaret Festival Review: Unsung – Amelia Ryan and Libby O’Donovan

It is just like the publicity says, it’s raucous, it’s nostalgic and it’s a loud and proud celebration of the incredibly long list of talented Australian women who have graced our pop and rock scene.

By
Overall
5

Presented by Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed 9 June 2019

Amelia Ryan and Libby O’Donovan are Adelaide legends in their own right. Both consummate performers and gifted singers their collaboration on this show for the Cabaret Festival is a sure-fire winner. Recipients of the inaugural Frank Ford Commission, these two South Australian talents have invested the award wisely to develop a unique and entertaining 70 minute cabaret celebrating the 60’s iconic forgotten Australian women singers who too often took a step back to conform with the requirements of the times they lived in.

It is just like the publicity says, it’s raucous, it’s nostalgic and it’s a loud and proud celebration of the incredibly long list of talented Australian women who have graced our pop and rock scene. From such iconic names as Nolene Batley whose first record Starry Eyed was released in February of 1960; remembering our own Little Pattie (Pattie Amphlett) who burst into the charts in 1963 with He’s My Blond Headed Stompy Wompy Real Gone Surfie Boy. Then of course there was Patsy Anne Noble, Betty McQuade, Judy Storm, Lyn Randell, Bev Harrell, Marcie Jones, the list goes on and on.

Australia in the 60s was not a place for women to progress to the top of the entertainment game and the many and various reminders of the times that are slipped gently into the night between songs is a salutary reminder that we haven’t progressed that far since 1965 when two courageous women walked into a bar in Brisbane and chained themselves to the bar rail and asked for a beer. An act which started to slowly move the presence of women forward into the mainstream of all areas of life.

I’m sounding as if this is all a bit serious and tipped towards a feminist whinge, far from it. These two talented women sing up a storm individually and together they raise the roof of the Space Theatre and leave you wanting more, much more. The script by Amelia Ryan is punchy, fast and funny. The jokes perfectly suit the mood created by the piece celebrating our forgotten sixties women. The singing is brilliantly supported by Sally Cameron on backing vocal who can sing up a storm as a headliner as well as a back-up singer, together with a first class quartet of musicians who perfectly captured the energy and sound of the sixties in all its genres. Drummer Jarrad Payne, Lead Guitar Sam Leske, Bass Shireen Khemlani masterfully led by Mark Ferguson on Piano who also added some handy back-up vocals and excellent whistling completed an excellent ensemble of South Australian talent.

This show will travel the world and hopefully give these two incredible 2019 Australian women singers the recognition they should have given to all our forgotten 6o’s female singers. These two ambassadors of the wealth of talent that is produced in south Australia should be headlining at places the men will be clamouring to get into. The playlist is amazing, the story engaging, inspiring and sometimes breathtaking and the talent is world class. Thankyou Adelaide, these women rock!

Time for a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. Just hang on one more day, Sally. You had to be there!

Reviewed by Adrian Barnes

Rating out of 5: 5

Venue:  The Space Theatre
Season: 9th June 9.15pm and 10th June 3pm
Duration: 70mins

Tickets: Premium $56.90 A Reserve $46.90 A Reserve Cc $46.90 Green Room $25.00
Bookings:  https://www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au/

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