Cabaret Festival Review: Hispanic Attack! – Ryan Gonzalez

Hispanic Attack! is a wild ride through the Latino songbook as well as its culture.

Presented by: Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed:  14 June 2017

Latin music has made a big dent in the pop charts in the last few decades.  Singers like Gloria Estefan, Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin have blazed a trail for fellow country-men and woman to follow.  Their songs full of Latino vibes have had an authentic urban feel without the use of auto-tune or other technical tricks.  The energy and passion gone into the songs have been evident for all to hear.  The accompanying videos are either full of slow paced moods or fast action perfectly mirroring the tracks.

Hispanic Attack! is a wild ride through the Latino songbook as well as its culture.  As conveyed by the furiously energetic moods of Latin superstar Ryan Gonzalez, the show is a fusion of egotistical modesty and high-camp performances.  Written and directed by Richard Carroll, it presents Gonzalez as a frustrated genius feeling his talents have been unappreciated.  Within the small confines of the Artspace stage, his ego took full flight with the room barely containing it.  But it was big enough for the dance moves and high-octane singing of which there were plenty.  Gonzalez shook his bon-bon much to the delight of the audience who lapped up his sometimes dubious brand of humour.

Like Bob Downe and other characters mocking established archetypes, Gonzalez is a persona one has seen many times.  Under the direction of music maestro Conrad Hamill, Gonzalez’s passionate energy was in full flight.  Also reaching heights as well as depths was the comedy which was very hit and miss.  Whilst overall humour was derived from the character and his views on life, the ridicule of a certain Latin star’s sexuality was poor.  The world has moved on from such 1970’s ‘Carry On’-style comedy.  The addition of foul language during some songs also had the show descending into the realms of a stag night at the local strip club.  These tawdry thrills detracted from what was otherwise a generally entertaining show.

Not at fault was the singing which was superb.  From Waiting for Tonight, Mambo No. 5, She Bangs and other tunes, Gonzalez belted through them with ease.  The music, Amy Campbell’s choreography and singing were top notch with a send-up of a classic track from Phantom of the Opera working well.  The audience participation was high even if the performer’s interaction wasn’t.  This might have helped to pace the show better and move away from the smutty humour the show definitely didn’t need.  But all seemed to enjoy the show and laughed at the right places and one couldn’t fault the sweaty energy gone into the dance sequences.  The finale was suitably rousing and Gonzalez ended the night feeling like a fully formed character.

Cabaret shows shouldn’t be used for cheap laughs which was something Hispanic Attack! forgot.  That isn’t to say it didn’t have its plusses as there were many.  Chief among its highlights were the singing which made the character feel believable with the Latino accent never faltering.  If you’re looking for a ribald evening with jokes Benny Hill would have enjoyed then this saucily sexy Latino foray is for you.

Reviewed by: Patrick Moore

Twitter: @PatrickMoore14

Rating out of 5:  3

Venue: Artspace
Season: 14 – 15 June 2017
Duration: 1 hr.
Tickets: Premium – Adult: $36.90, A Reserve:  Adult – $31.90, Concession – $26.90.
Bookings: Book online at or phone BASS on 131 246

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