Rachel Beck and Ian Stenlake: More Than Words – Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2011

Presented by the Adelaide Festival Centre and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed Sunday 19th June 2011

Venue: Dunstan Playhouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: 6:15pm Wed 22nd and Thurs 23rd June 2011
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: Premium $50/adult $40/conc $36
Bookings: BASS 131 241 or

Husband and wife team, Rachael Beck and Ian Stenlake, take a long hard look at love in the première of their new show. They draw on ten years of marriage, their two children and their show business careers for material, and present a humorous look at love, from the first meeting onwards. They are backed by a trio of piano/guitar, bass and drums in a varied range of songs, with a fair degree of dancing and loads of laughs. Stenlake is also a very talented pianist, as we had a chance to hear during this concert.

This very popular pair take a new approach to familiar songs, linking them by a comical series of dialogues and giving them a specific meaning within the tale of a couple from meeting, separating,missing one another and then getting back together again. Naturally, they attracted a large audience who anticipated a great show. Even South Australia’s own darling of the entertainment world, Caroline O’Connor, was in town and joined the audience to take a look.

The performance opens with some very nice two part harmony on Westlife’s More Than Words,declaring that saying “I love you” is unnecessary if love shows in what one does. After some witty repartee Beck tore into Madonna’s Cherish, expressing the need for real love, a sentiment echoed by Stenlake in Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet.

Then they are off to the Disco and, suddenly, it is love at first sight and time for a duet because, thanks to John Paul Young, Love is in the Air. The first date does not go too well, though, due to his poor choice of a film, but passion overcomes that and he tells that he would like to do Bad Things with her, using the words of Jace Everett to explain his feelings. Her feelings are more delicate and she is, as expressed by Glen Hansard, Falling Slowly, with him relating to her sentiments and turning it into a duet.

Beck then expressed that old problem faced by so many lovers, fear of commitment, with the lines of Nina Sky’s Runaway. She breaks up with him, leaving him singing Barry Manilow’s poignant Somewhere Down the Road. Now separated, they go out with other people. He asks Joe Jackson’s question, Is She Really Going Out With Him? She responds with Sting’s Every Breath You Take, and they alternate verses, each showing how they miss one another. He misses her so much that he quotes part of Romeo’s famous speech from the balcony scene in act 2 scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet, in an impassioned rendition, leading into the plaintive Calling You, from Bagdad Café, by Bob Telson.

She regrets the break up and laments what she has done to him, with Christina Aguilera’s Mercy on Me. She apologises for hurting him and he says that there is no need. He accentuates this with Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love and she joins in making it into a love duet. Together again they want physical displays of their love, not talking, so they sing the Elvis Presley hit, A Little Less Conversation, by Mac Davis and Billy Strange

Their discussion of who had kissed whom, in the line of work, of course, brought plenty of laughs, especially when Stenlake launched into a modified version of Katy Perry’s hit song which became I Kissed a Man and I Liked It. Even he and Beck burst into laughter when he forgot to change the sex in the last verse and accidentally sang ‘girl’ instead. This began a medley ending with Rudy Clark’s The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss).

After ten years together, both as co-performers and as a family, there is no mistaking the rapport and the warmth existing between Rachael Beck and Ian Stenlake, and that connection added a lot to the performance. Luckily the season runs over several evenings spaced out a little during the Festival, so you still have a chance to catch this very polished and captivating production. Treat yourself to a night out with a couple of Australia’s finest entertainers.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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