Presented by the Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed Thurs 24th June 2010
Venue: Artspace Gallery, Adelaide Festival Centre
Marika Aubrey, a redhead, born in the town of Redhead in the Hunter Valley, a wine region known for its reds, presents a show focussing on redheads. I wonder where she got that idea? Rita Hayworth, Lucille Ball and Ethel Merman are the three stars revisited by Cabaret Performer of the Year, Aubrey in this terrific show.
The show opened with a rousing version of I Enjoy Being a Girl, from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Flower Drum Song along with a humorous introduction and, with Julia Gillard having just become Prime Minister, a reference to this being a good time to be a redhead. This brought both laughs and applause. She next reminisced on the redheads that turn up in children’s literature and noted how similar she was to them. Look to the Rainbow, from Finian’s Rainbow, and Tomorrow, from Annie, kept this theme going with that childlike optimism about the future.
Aubrey then moved to the first of her famous redheads, Lucille Ball, a cue for Hey look Me Over from Cy Coleman’s Wildcat in which Ball starred, after it was rewritten for her, that is, when her company, Desilu, offered to finance it.
Aubrey moved straight into the start of Everything’s Coming up Roses from Gypsy and we moved quickly on to Ethel Merman with Aubrey recreating that famous long held note that Merman sang in Girl Crazy. Snippets of Anything Goes, De, lovely and It’s a Lovely Day Today followed in rapid succession. Her four failed marriages led to I Got Lost in His Arms from Annie Get Your Gun and Some People and Everything’s Coming Up Roses, from Gypsy. Aubrey filled these with all the energy and power of Merman.
Rodgers’ and Hart’s Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered, from Pal Joey, introduced the next section of the show, about Rita Hayworth, and then some more humorous dialogue and further songs from Aubrey that varied enormously in style and content. This displayed her considerable ability to handle a wide range of music with ease. She then moved on to Marni Nixon, the singing voice behind Natalie Wood in West Side Story, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Deborah Kerr in The King and I and Marilyn Monroe’s high notes, to name but a few. This gave Aubrey even more scope to show her versatility, and so she did.
Kristin Chenoweth’s macabre song If You Hadn’t But You Did brought forth plenty of laughs and the observation that all of the women in the show had multiple husbands. Stephen Schwartz’s Meadowlark, from The Baker’s Wife was next. It seems to be the song of choice for female cabaret singers this year, as so many of the Cabaret Festival and Cabaret Fringe performers’ have sung it in their acts. It is, of course, a beautiful song and Aubrey sings it most beautifully, but it was wearing rather thin by this time as it was the second time that I had heard it that day.
If They Could See Me Now, from Cy Coleman’s Sweet Charity, was a sudden change of mood to highlight Aubrey’s skill as a ‘mover’, the term for a non-dancer, which brought more laughs and moved then on into a rousing version of I’m a Brass Band. To end the show she spoke of Katherine Hepburn, who played Jo March in Little Women, a cue to sing a stunning rendition of Astonishing from the musical based on that book. Aubrey is definitely a performer to watch.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor Glam Adelaide.