Presented by Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed 22nd June 2017
Each year, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival nurtures and develops young performers as a part of the Class Of Cabaret program, where over 20 South Australian high-school students are mentored by award winning cabaret icons. Using this as a platform, the Festival provide the annual opportunity for selected participants to devise their own show. This year’s graduates were Alex De Porteous, Claire Morphett, Eva Rundle, and Jerome Javier, mentored by Australian cabaret icon Libby O’Donovan, and under the accomplished hand of Mark Fergusson on the keys. Retrospective explored their musical influences over the past 60 years.
Each performer acknowledged their musical icons through song: artists who have influenced and shaped not only their musicality, but their personal qualities and ambitions. Rundle payed homage to Amy Winehouse in You Know I’m No Good, her raw and emotive vocals totally encapsulating the troubled singer’s voice. Morphet expressed her appreciation of seventies music in her take on Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay, acknowledging her parents’ love of Combi vans and tie-dye clothing. Javier describes his musical theatre background in his version of the Rent classic, Take Me Or Leave Me. De Porteous pays tribute to David Bowie in a medley of his songs, explaining how the late artist helped her to create an identity for her self on stage.
Seemingly outside of this musical icon theme, Javier performed a moving rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, by Gerry and the Pacemakers (originally penned by Rodgers & Hammerstein for their musical, Carousel), dedicated to his late father, demonstrating his fine vocal ability. Morphett payed homage to the victims of the recent Manchester bombing, by acknowledging the One Love Manchester concert in a beautiful performance of Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’ Over.
The group finished with their own medley of empowering songs by female artists, including Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and True Colours, and Katie Perry’s Firework. An entirely female medley seemed an odd choice that didn’t showcase Javier’s skill.
Whilst all four performers demonstrated their impressive vocal ability, it was De Porteus who stole the show. Not only were her vocals stunning, but her audience rapport and informed dialogue were captivating and relaxed. A cabaret natural!
Clearly these artists all have potential, however this performance lacked the cohesion required for the intimate nature of cabaret. The minimal dialogue meant that the audience were left wondering how the songs linked to each other. This sense of disjointment was accentuated by the inclusion of many solos, with no explanation of how they fitted into the ‘retrospective’ theme, creating four individual shows rather than a united one. Furthermore, in an intimate environment, it would have been nice if the artists had introduced themselves before the closing number!
These four young performers have demonstrated their passion for performing in an entertaining show. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival are to be commended for giving the youth of Adelaide a platform to do so.
Reviewed by Ben Francis
Rating out of 5: 3