on now, Review

REVIEW | Kangaroo Stew is a hearty family drama that kicks off Blue Room Theatre’s 2021 programming with a wallop!

Review | Laura Money

Talk about a show that packs a punch! Kangaroo Stew written and performed by Zac James, directed by Bruce Denny and played at The Blue Room Theatre is the ultimate family story. It takes good, hard working people who are dedicated to each other and their sacred land and posits the question – what would happen if this was all taken away? Featuring a five-person cast of phenomenal actors, Kangaroo Stew takes you back to your roots and educates while entertaining – and it will probably leave you with a lump in your throat.

The set is dynamic, providing clear zones where each dramatic section occurs – Denny’s direction is smooth when each character moves from area to area alongside masterful lighting design from Peter Young. There are earth toned screens that demarcate the separate areas, a kitchen table with cupboards and hob in the heart of the stage as with the heart of the home, and a bedroom to the right for privacy that plays an important role throughout. Young’s contribution is highlighted during a dreamtime story in which actors move and dance in a sinister fashion behind the screens with a powerful light casting creepy shadows of the characters in the story to accompany Maitland Schnaars‘ hypnotic storytelling.

Schnaars plays John, father and husband of the struggling family. He is also dead. Returning guiding spirits are an integral part of Aboriginal culture and John’s spirit is interwoven into the story just as seamlessly as Dreaming and the spirit of the land are into culture. Cutting a dignified and sometimes solemn figure, Schnaars gently but firmly teaches country and story to his children. He jokes with his son, Jack (Micah Kickett) who shares banter with the cheekiest of grins, but is serious when addressing David (James) providing a gravity that cultural significance merits. Kickett and James share a brilliant chemistry that is every sibling relationship. They love each other fiercely but also have the capacity to hurt each other because of it. Jack sees David’s moving away as a betrayal – which is nothing compared to what is about to come.

At the heart of Kangaroo Stew is a strong bond and intense relationships. There is a beautiful moment between CJ Hampson and Rayma Morrison as mother and daughter in law that will leave you unsure if you should laugh or cry. The family’s utmost dedication to its newest member is heartwarming. Hampson plays the peacekeeper well, shifting seamlessly from playful language with Jack and respectful yet friendly tones with Lilly. However, it is Lilly’s relationship to John that is the most harrowing. Morrison’s Lilly is strong on the outside but falling apart with emotion inside. She shifts from capable, funny, caring matriarch to vulnerable, insecure, quiet alcoholic. Lilly drinks to ‘banish’ John’s spirit as she feels she can’t move on until he’s gone. Schnaars and Morrison share a touching moment that is so perfectly performed there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

Kangaroo Stew is wonderfully uplifting, a stunning insight into the everyday understanding of spirituality and culture. It’s connections to land and family are strong, tangible threads that prove that much like the stew itself, every element is different but when it comes together it works better than ever. And it’s a bloody good show, too!

Kangaroo Stew is playing at The Blue Room Theatre from 27th April – 8th May 2021. You can get your tickets HERE

Review

REVIEW | Feeling Way too Good: Songs of Michael Buble | Lisa Woodbrook is happy and she knows it!

Review | Kieran Eaton

With a show title like Feeling Way too Good: Songs of Michael Buble you may get the impression that Michael Buble is reigniting his early 2000s hit career, to perform at Perth’s Crown Casino! However, the past twelve months have been uniquely different with the global COVID pandemic and we now have an opportunity to look at things differently. Why not try a larger-than-life Australian personality in Lisa Woodbrook to take this humungous challenge up? Enter the bubbly Woodbrook herself – hailing from WA nail the classic tunes with gusto.

Woodbrook is comfortable in her own skin, adorning a bright pink suit and strutting the stage with comical flamboyance, she wins the audience over instantly with just a smile. Her voice is strongly projected throughout the dark surrounds of the casino’s former Eve Night Club and whether you agree or disagree with what she says – she certainly keeps your attention with personal observations, fluttered with daggy jokes that keep the night light and jovial. Woodbrook has the backing of a vast array of musicians playing big band style that back her so easily you barely notice their presence! They are cheekily introduced by the star of the show, but these instrumentalists are comfortable enough to give cheek back.

The set list is varied and still Woodbrook can link all the songs with creativity, including using a bunch of lemons as props for the old saying ‘if life gives you lemons’. When you hear this multi-talented singer, you forget that you are listening to Buble songs and that is power of Woodbrook’s gift for owning the stage and songs. If you think about it, Buble was the master of covering classic songs such as ‘Come Fly With Me’ and making them his own and this local gal made good does the same with her own imagination and interpretation. Woodbrook also embraces the crowd with little interaction that turn to weird heckles that she loves and handles with excellent humour. The only flashiness is some use of the smoke machine that creates an aura of mystique around the performer. The good vibes of the night are absorbed into your body that keeps you happy, even if the songs are not your cup of tea.

Feeling Way to Good Songs of Michael Buble is a wonderful cabaret hour of entertainment that will be leaving you wanting more and so go check this show out wherever you can.

Review

REVIEW | The Swing Sisters & the Boogie Woogie Bugle Band | Swing into a retro night of great music at Crown Live Sessions

Review | Kieran Eaton

Does your heart feel like it does not fit into this crazy modern world? Well, let’s embrace the old classics with a bit of swing! And who better to celebrate the era mostly around the 30s, 40s and 50s than a trio of groovy female vocalists of Zalia Joi, Samantha Hicks and Amy Ehlers. Dressed in vintage outfits, be mesmerised as you are transported to this simpler time.

Apart from this glamorous trio, The Swing Sisters & Boogie Woogie Bugle Band consists of musicians using the big band instruments of brass and percussion and their love of playing is exemplified as they play the tunes with ease opening with a great mood setter with, In The Mood.  Joi, Hicks and Ehlers then explain the importance of mood raising songs during war times and it gives you a good insight into the role of music and entertainment in keeping spirits high. These explanations work seamlessly with the transition to multiple songs – sixteen songs in total for this hour of non-stop uplifting! The costumes are very well designed with their bright blue dresses grabbing your attention from the back of the audience. They even dress a bit flashier for the finale leaving the Boogie Woogie Bugle Band to go solo for a bit!  Their stylish choreography is straight out of the Andrews Sisters playbook and they look great. When they describe the songs, you can feel their love of the era that makes you nostalgic – even if you did not exist in that time! The knowledge you gain from this trio is insightful and natural, so any little stumble is met with warmth. There is realism in the performance with no use of special effects, rather simply good sounds and plenty of charisma.

What creates the charm for this act is their energy. You feel their enthusiasm and embrace their instructions, like clicking your fingers to a song. There is good balance between genuine down to earth personalities with strong, efficient professionalism. Set in the big surrounds of the former Eve Nightclub at Perth’s Crown Casino, you can chill with a beer or wine in your hand and still tap your toes at the same time! Chill or boogie, it’s up to you because this easy-going night of entertainment will leave you smiling with contentment that you have experienced a night of relaxed swinging to your hearts content!

The Swing Sisters & the Boogie Woogie Bugle Band played at Crown live sessions in April 2021.

Review

REVIEW | Sweetwood – Legendary Hits of Fleetwood Mac | Awesome sounds hit Crown Live Sessions

Review | Laura Money

You can go your own way as long as it’s directly to Crown Live Sessions to see Sweetwood – Legendary Hits of Fleetwood Mac! Sweetwood are a five-piece band that play the fantastic music of Fleetwood Mac. You’ll have ‘dreams’ about this phenomenal cover band who are certainly bringing the absolute coolness of Fleetwood Mac in their heyday to well-deserved standing ovations.

Zalia Joi channels Stevie Nicks with her wiccan outfits and earth mother mannerisms. It’s clear that Zalia’s focus is on the music as she lets it thrum and dance around her – complete with ribboned tambourine, Zalia almost has an out of body experience soulfully singing the hell out of ‘Gypsy’ and ‘Rhiannon.’ They have the vibe down to the big hair and 70s effortless style – Sweetwood look like they should only ever appear in polaroid photos, and if you squint it’s just like seeing the original line-up for real! What really stands out is the sheer musicianship that everyone possesses – each member of Sweetwood is as talented as their famous counterpart.

The set list is a diverse mix of pop hits, heartbreaking tear-jerkers, and fierce bangers that shows off the range of the band and makes you realise just how varied Fleetwood Mac’s sound actually was. Killing it with ‘Tusk’ as the opening number, Sweetwood keep the grit and guts of their music with ‘The Chain’ and ‘Don’t Stop’ with Stewart Herbertson absolutely slaying as lead guitarist and rock God stand-in. His harmonies with Zalia are phenomenal and definitely the cause of many goosebumps. Of course, there have to be some iconic pieces and Zalia and the band nail every note of ‘Little Lies’ and even reference Stevie’s solo career with ‘White Winged Dove’ – Zalia resplendent in a white feathered cape. It’s this amazing energy that just elevates Sweetwood from tribute band to pop/rock phenomenon!

Sweetwood perform all over Perth throughout the year, so keep your eye out and don’t miss out on the full experience. It’s an entire thing – not just some music but an immersion into a particular time and place, you’ll be stamping your feet and singing along and begging for more at the end.

You can check out Sweetwood on their Facebook page HERE

Review

REVIEW | Elvis: All Girl Tribute to the ’68 Comeback Special | An evening of great music and phenomenal vocals in Crown’s Live Sessions

Review | Laura Money

Don’t be lonesome tonight, get yourself down to see Elvis: All Girl Tribute to the ’68 Comeback Special it will be better than checking into the Heartbreak Hotel and you’ll be all shook up after an evening of classic Elvis hits performed by a diverse group of fabulous women. The show celebrates all things Elvis and is a fitting tribute to the King himself with different musical styles paying homage to his rockabilly, country, and rock styles. It’s a full power hour of a little less conversation and more dancing in your blue suede shoes!

Seasoned performer Darlene Gianoli is rather enamoured by Elvis and wanted to create a show based around his music. After reading about the ’68 Comeback Special she was surprised to find that the King had been out of the spotlight for years before he finally hit the stage in a tv special that featured his greatest hits. Gianoli watched in raptures as an all-star cast recreated the special in 2018, including Keith Urban and JLo and thought she would give the tribute a red hot go too. Kicking things off with Mr TCB himself, Elvis fanatic Peter Chase gets you in the mood along with the band including Razor Jack on the guitar the stage is rocking and the atmosphere is crackling with great music.

The girls are completely different in style from Gianoli who brings her signature showgirl style to a stunning rendition of You Were Always On My Mind that moves the audience to tears to the fiery Gemma Luxton who gets you moving and grooving with Hound Dog. It’s a great blend of country and rock all from the actual concert itself but brought to life by the brilliant stylings of each performer. Libby HammerNatalie Martinic, and Zoe Simpson take on the funkier side of Elvis with great versions of Don’t Be Cruel, Blue Suede Shoes and an underrated classic Love Me. The intimate setting and fierce camaraderie sees the heart of the show ripple through the crowd and serves to highlight the nuances in Elvis’ repertoire.

So, get ready to love them tender and don’t be cruel because when these girls get to the Jailhouse Rock the whole audience will be jiving!

The Live Sessions at Crown Elvis: all girl tribute to the ’68 Comeback Special is part of a programme that began on Friday 9th April 2021 and you can grab your tickets HERE