As the audience ascends the stairs at Tuxedo Cat, Pam Lawson is providing a gentle rendition of I Won’t Dance. Lawson explains that, as indicated by the opening song, this show will be about the songs from the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, rather than the dancing.
Providing a good history of Astaire and Rogers movies, and the composers and collaborators, Lawson proves that she knows the material well, having done her own research. She moves well, has a suitable level of patter between each song, and connects with the audience in the intimate space.
Whilst Lawson is Scottish, as her saccent attests, she takes on an American lilt for the songs, in keeping with the subject matter. Her jazz background shows as she works through music by George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and many more.
The set up, with an upright piano, does mean that Lawson needs to cue Tom Finley on keys as he has his back to Lawson but, given that this is more of a history lesson then a straight singing type of cabaret, it still works. Finley is joined by John Callisto on double bass, who also gets to show his talents with a few solos.
Whilst Lawson has advised she won’t dance, she is wearing tap shoes and does a little number in Top Hat, White Tie and Tails, but admits that it’s a bit rough. She looks like she is having fun and enjoying the music, though, so this unpolished dance is quickly forgiven.
Throughout, Lawson shows her enjoyment of the material, uses this to engage the audience, and also manages to blend in a quick notification to the audience to settle and listen. Yet again, audiences need to be reminded to pay both the performer and the rest of the audience some respect and refrain from talking for the 60 minutes of the show. Whilst the house lights couldn’t be completely dimmed due to the layout of the venue, this was not a lounge singer in a bar, this is a show.
For anyone who likes the songs from the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, wants to know more about their history, or simply loves the jazz influenced music of the 1930’s, this is the show to see.
Reviewed by Jade Kops, special guest Fringe Critic, Glam Adelaide
Venue: Red Room, The Tuxedo Cat, 199 North Tce, Adelaide
Season: 6pm, Thurs 8 – Mon 12 Mar 2012
Tickets: Adults $20, Concession $18
Duration: 60 min
Bookings: Fringetix 1300-FRINGE (1300 374 643), their outlets or online