Presented by The Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed Thursday 14th June 2012
Performing as the Andrews Sisters, Maxene, Patty and LaVerne, three Western Australian songbirds, Maree Cole, Katie McKee, and Sherry-Anne Hayes, recreate a Command Performance radio programme. These were broadcast to troops during WWII as well as to those at home in America.
The trio became known as the “Sweethearts of the Armed Forces Radio Service” for their V-Discs (Victory Discs) and voluntary appearances on shows like Command Performance, as well as Mail Call and GI Journal. Being commercial radio, these broadcasts also included advertising and so this performance ingluded some of the jingles that were written for such things as Nash cars, Kelvinator refrigerators, Campbell’s tomato soups, chewing gum, and even one for cigarettes that was absolutely hilarious, knowing what we now know about smoking. Fresher? Better tasting? Cleaner? Ye gods!
The core of the performance, though, were the famous and ever popular songs that shot the sisters to stardom, their first smash hit in 1938 being Bei Mir Bist Du Schön, a Yiddish song that Sammy Cahn had translated into English. That, naturally was included, along with others that I am sure many of the audience knew ell and could have easily sung along to, such as Rum and Coca Cola, Don’t Fence Me In, Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Beer Barrel Polka ( a big hit that they had to be almost forced to record), I Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much), (I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time, Accentuate the Positive (one of many that they recorded with Bing Crosby), and more.
Dressed in military uniforms, the three performers and their excellent four piece band, led by pianist Tim Cunniffe, introduced as Sammy and his Society Syncopators, all really looked the part. Looking good though, counts for nothing unless you also have the sound, and these three ladies certainly do. The handle that close three part harmony beautifully, but they also capture the sound and style of the sisters perfectly. Put a big band accompaniment behind them, as the Andrews Sisters had, and you’d be hard put to work out which trio was which.
Taking it a little beyond a concert of songs, some way to being a true cabaret performance, the show’s writer, Sherry-Anne Hayes, has included a number of letters from ‘listeners’, asking the sisters questions about themselves and their careers, cleverly allowing the three of them to convey some information about the original trio. They did not, though, mention that their real name was Andreos, their father having migrated from Greece to the USA. Many migrated there believing that, in America, a young land, anybody could do or be whatever they wanted. The sisters proved that true.
If the original sisters were alive today (actually, Patty is still alive and is now 94) they would, no doubt, have been thrilled to find that their music could still fill a large venue to capacity, and even a bit beyond. I am sure that they would have been equally pleased to find that the audience consisted of people of all ages, some reengaging with the music of their youth and some discovering it anew. They would certainly have been thrilled to see such a marvellous recreation of themselves and their music by this very talented group. Tonight is your last chance to catch this class act.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre
Season: to 17th June 2012
Duration: 1hr 10mins
Tickets: $34.90 to $39.90
Bookings: BASS 13 12 46 or here