Venue: The Promethean, 116 Grote St, Adelaide
Season: 20 Feb & 12 Mar at 9pm, and 11 Mar at 8pm
Duration: 60 mins
Bookings: FringeTix 1300 FRINGE (374 643) or http://www.adelaidefringe.com.au
Pairing two celebrated performers would seem a dream come true, particularly when the duo have previously joined forces with the successful Last of the Red Hot Mamas (a tribute to Sophie Tucker) and Lady Sings the Blues.
Pianist and Musical Director Matthew Carey and vocalist Sidonie Henbest are certainly not talents to be ignored and yet, in this instance, their threat of intimate mornings is enough to make you want to wear a condom.
The blend of lesser known and popular songs include Mad About The Boy, Me & My Shadow, and After You, Who?, but only one song works in this entire cabaret of classic New York jazz from the 1940s-1960s.
In a glamorous red evening gown, experienced chanteuse Henbest looks divine but is surprisingly bad. She hits many dud notes, lacks the necessary texture and depth to do most songs justice, and fails to exude enough stage presence to fill the Spiegeltent’s tiny stage. In respect to the latter, she will hopefully fair much better in the more intimate space of The Promethean, where the remaining Fringe performances are taking place.
Despite playing with the likes of Liza Minnelli in the past, Carey’s piano playing is accurate but bland. It lacks emotion, as does his awkward song arrangements that come nowhere near the smooth sophistication of the era they purport to honour. Brief chats about his career make reference to people most of the audience don’t know, like Julie Wilson, consequently falling as flat as his singing.
Alana Dawes stands quietly in the background supporting the duo on bass. As much as her presence helps to flesh out the sound of each number, she appears detached from the show, grinning broadly, for example, as Carey dedicates a song to those struck by tragedy in Queensland recently.
It’s a hard call, knowing the talent on stage should and could be so much better but for New York Nights… And Intimate Mornings, one can only recommend an early night and a sleep in.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis, Performing Arts Critic, Glam Adelaide.