Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 13 June, 2019
The title is almost superfluous… you try gagging Ms Kaye Tuckerman. From the faintest plaintive wisps of sound to an R’n’B roar which threatens to disturb those Adelaide Oval patrons busy worshipping whatever ball is their preference; her voice is front and centre all the time. This show is a distillation of Essence of Cabaret.
In seventy minutes, Tuckerman sings twelve songs or medleys. In between songs, she chats engagingly to us about the ups and downs of her professional career. It’s a simple recipe, and like most simple recipes, it works.
Tuckerman’s straight blonde hair is swept back severely off her forehead. She wears a simple black sheath frock with an insanely clever hem flare, and stiletto-heeled black boots. The visual message is: don’t expect sequins and theatrical sleight-of-hand – just look and listen. Tuckerman tells it like it is, never big-noting herself or assuming a false modesty.
And now to the playlist. It comprises Broadway songs, rock, pop and indie material. Little Water Song (Bruno Pisek & Nick Cave) is the most disturbing, distressing, alienating and brilliantly acted of the programme. Tuckerman makes each nuance of this creepy song slide like alien slime across the spirit. She’s merciless. Her arrangement of New York, New York is subtly clever, enhancing her skillset. Bob Telson’s anthem from “Baghdad Café”, I Am Calling You”, is frail, elegant, and entirely lacking in self-pity. Just right. Her last number, Jerry Ragovoy and Mort Shuman’s Get It While You Can, is a triumphant R’n’B stomp’n’shout. Tuckerman’s voice is a piledriver of sound. Every one of the songs she sings is presented with sensitivity and care for the text and its meaning. She’s a fine actor.
Kaye Tuckerman is accompanied by three excellent artists, sensitive to her freakish dynamic range and specific rhythmic demands. On piano, immaculate John Thorn underpins each nuance, while Shireen Khemlani (bass) and Jarrad Payne (drums) sit right where they need to be in the groove. Payne and Thorn are also effective and neat backing vocalists when required.
If you ever wondered what you need to do to get to work on Broadway, see this show. Tuckerman’s formidable performance, stripped down and raw, with every emotion pegged out like washing on a line for us all to feel, demonstrates the amount of vocal, emotional and intellectual strength it takes. Brava.
Reviewed by Pat. H. Wilson
Rating out of 5: 5 stars. – Star quality
Venue: Adelaide Festival
Centre – The Blue Room
Season: 13th – 14th June, 2019
Duration: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Tickets: $41.90 Concessions: $36.90