Jamie Jewell as Candy Chambers

Cabaret Fringe Festival Review: Opening Night Gala

Cabaret lovers united for the opening night gala of the Cabaret Fringe, filling La Bohème to capacity to sample the impressive line-up during June’s Fringe.

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Jamie Jewell as Candy Chambers
Jamie Jewell as Candy Chambers

Presented by Cabaret Fringe Festival
Reviewed 01 June 2014

Cabaret lovers united Sunday eve as the opening night gala of the Cabaret Fringe Festival filled La Bohème to capacity. Cabaret Fringe Festival Director Eugene Suleau opened proceedings, challenging us to see 8 performances from the impressive line-up during the month of Cabaret Fringe.

Whistle-whetting samples of forthcoming shows were introduced by MC, Candy Chambers (Jamie Jewell), who quickly warmed the crowd, versioning her own Get The Party Started by Pink. Candy, in a wine-coloured strapless knee-length gown (perchance to match La Bohème’s excellent wine selection?), channelled a glamorous young Ethel Merman; only with bright orange hair. Candy’s great vocal range and sparkling eyes promised her glamorous gems are not the only things that will shine in her show 50 Forever.

Libby Parker and Matthew Trainor performed two songs from Box Set Blues; guitar and harmonised vocals delivered some funny and original perspectives on TV shows. Their great cab-version of Creep had guest, Cabaret Festival Director, Kate Ceberano, threatening to walk out; but it was all part of the clever act.

Morgan Welch brought a more sombre note with words for her departing father from her show ‘Back to Back’ Is Back; giving a powerful and intense performance of Adele’s Take It All, accompanied by pianist Chrissie Gould.

Enchanting performers Trio Montagne shone with their rendition of Charles Trenet’s Douce France (Sweet France) composed in war torn France, 1943. Their very French offering La Chanson showcases singer Gillian Hunter’s beautiful tones against David Corkill’s lovely acoustic guitar and Sophia MacRae’s soulful saxophone.

After a sold-out Adelaide Fringe season earlier this year, it still took some audience coaxing to get the gorgeous Carla Conlin onstage, where she asked us if we liked her party dress. The answer was “absolutely!” See it at her show, Where’s My Pony?! (And Other Stories of Betrayal).

Hew Parham is the Italian waiter, Giovanni, who is as bitter sweet as Chinotto. Snippets of his Buono Voyago Fiesta show delighted the audience who were, by his reckoning “as tasty as a jar of anchovies”. Yum!

Following a refuelling interval, and a weather report from Candy (in the guise of her song Wet), Leonard Cohen aficionados Tess Coleman and Michael Liddle performed a medley of Cohen tunes ending with the ever-popular Hallelujah from their show of the same name.

Fred Fudara charmed with the delightful Champs Elysee guitar and vocal tune, followed by a beautiful song he wrote about the La Bohème venue and the support of “friendship, fun and art”. Fudara performs his multimedia show, The Sights and Sounds of Paris.

The power of singer Annie Siegmann accompanied by Michael Ross on piano was not to be messed with as wearing a peacock top, she belted out I Never Wanna Drink Again. Cheers to her show Girl on the Drink: The Lager Continues.

Michaela Burger from Exposing Edith brought her velvety voice (and dress) channelling Edith Piaf’s power, purity and sass. The brilliant ending, clever for performer and audio person, saw Burger harmonising with herself.

A nod to lighting and audio personnel who did a stellar job of accommodating so many different performers. For the finale, Candy returned, now stunning in a gold pleated frock and invoked a cabaret flash mob of Magic Night with Carol Young on piano and all the performers on stage in a cracking cabaret melange.

By show’s end, the challenge to see 8 shows had increased to 12. Whatever the quantity, the variety and high quality make for difficult choosing, but it’s a very nice problem to have.

Reviewed by Gordon Forester
Twitter: @GordonForester

The Cabaret Fringe Festival runs 1 – 29 June 2014. Tickets range from approximately $10-$30. See the full program of events and book tickets through the Cabaret Fringe Festival online.


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