Review | Laura Money
Last year, a post-pandemic Gavin Nicklette took to the stage with a brand new show concept – writing a bunch of different emotions on a ‘money wheel’, Nicklette opened up infinite possibilities for shows. Each emotion corresponds with a true story and a song that represents it – and Cabaret Roulette was born. FRINGEWORLD 2022 sees the triumphant return of this gorgeous show with a few more options built in. It’s loose, it’s fun, and it’s fabulous – and guaranteed to have you on your feet!
The most compelling element of Cabaret Roulette is Gavin Nicklette himself. Dubbed the Lady Gaga of Jazz, I would go even further and suggest that he is Lady Gaga on valium – there’s an energy there but it’s contained and poised. Nicklette slinks about the stage like a cat – pure class with just enough diva in him to keep you in awe. He rocks his signature look: mermaid hotpants, angel wings, giant flamboyant eyelashes and lots of glitter. But Nicklette is a deliciously layered performer – on the surface is this larger than life, energetic powerhouse covering a blushing and humble persona. Nicklette peels back his layers one by one as he reveals each song choice.
Most of the songs are uplifting enough – he strips off another layer to reveal a stunning voice and genius arrangements. Nicklette takes a song and intuitively strips it of pretence, recomposing it into a simplified yet powerful piece of music – no-one arranges like Nicklette. He is a musical alchemist, creating magic in every chord. With each spin of the wheel comes another layer, and the night I attended the wheel stripped Nicklette to his core. What followed were stories of homophobia, of childhood shame, found families and great love, but equally great loss. A raw, and emotional Gavin (after seeing this outpouring, I feel surnames are not intimate enough) opened deep wounds and asked us to bear witness to his suffering. This was not morbid – Gavin is a kind and generous storyteller – nor was it selfish. Gavin is not degrading about any person who has wronged him, rather just trying to feel out his response to their actions. Every single person in that audience is closer now to one another because of Gavin’s beautiful and genuine openness. Each note, each vocal restrained of anguish weaving emotion and healing in through music has an everlasting effect and we can all thank the amazing human being that is Gavin Nicklette for sharing.
Gavin’s FRINGEWORLD 2022 season has ended but you can check out what he’s up to throughout the year HERE
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The Fourth Wall acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land we engage in storytelling on – the Wadjhuk people of the Noongar nation. We pay respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.