Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 9 October 2020
After months of viewing theatre online and carrying out phone interviews, I was so excited to get back to seeing a live show in the magnificently renovated Her Majesty’s Theatre.
Country Music royalty Beccy Cole and acclaimed jazz and cabaret performer Libby O’Donovan presented just over an hour of pure joy and entertainment in their new cabaret production, The Cowgirl and The Showgirl Ride Again. This performance once again reminded me how lucky we are to be living in a city such as Adelaide where we have world class artists who are either born and bred here or who now call SA home. Beccy and Libby, both incredible performers in their own right, were joined by 3 Adelaide based musicians, all at the top of their game. Mark Ferguson on piano, Ben Todd on drums and Shireen Khemlani on bass worked their magic to make The Cowgirl and The Showgirl Ride Again one heck of a night at the theatre. If an audience member walked away from this show without a smile, then I doubt much in this world would make them happy.
The camaraderie between Beccy and Libby is electrifying. The love that they share for each other, for music, for performing and for their audiences shone through the entire performance. Their quick-witted banter, clever songwriting and perfect comedic timing had the whole audience eating out of their hands. Cabaret and country music are not exactly two genres that you would see together, but Beccy and Libby make it work. Their voices blend stunningly. The set list for this production is perfect. One minute you are crying with laughter through their own compositions, and the next you are having your heart ripped in two with emotive numbers such as Back To Broken Hill.
Breaking up the string of duets, each had the opportunity to take the stage in a solo. Libby O’Donovan went back to her roots with the jazz standard At Last. And what a performance this was. With her trademark powerhouse vocals, the first half of this number was up there with some of the best jazz vocalist covers of this number that I’ve ever heard. Part way through, Libby’s renowned cheek shone through as she spoke to the audience over an instrumental break and the remainder of the number – you need to experience this for yourself. Libby’s humour took over and she really made this song – well, her own.
Beccy Cole also had her moment in the spotlight, and it was evident why she has 11 Golden Guitars, multiple ARIA Top 10 Country and Top 40 mainstream albums and more than a dozen No. 1 Australian country singles. Beccy’s moving rendition of her song Poster Girl showed her amazing storytelling skills through song. The stillness of Beccy’s performance drew you in, causing you to completely forget you were in a large auditorium with other patrons. It could have easily just been myself, Beccy and her guitar.
The night concluded fittingly with a sensational cover of I Am Woman by the late Helen Reddy, which had the whole house on their feet at the end with thunderous applause.
It is so pleasing, after months with very little to do, to see the Arts slowly making its comeback here in Adelaide. Thank you, Adelaide Festival Centre and Adelaide Cabaret Festival, for presenting this series of ‘Music at the Maj’. With only a short season (Friday October 9 and Saturday October 10), if you miss seeing Beccy Cole and Libby O’Donovan this time around, make sure you snap up a ticket for future performances, as it is a guaranteed night of fun, laughter and music.
Review by Ben Stefanoff
Rating out of 5: 5
Photo Credit: Robyn Waugh