The Promethean buzzed with anticipation on January 14, on the evening of two Cabaret Summer School Showcase performances by 15 participants from all walks of life, age groups and with various levels of performing experience.
Leading up to this showcase, the students learned the art of cabaret under the guidance of Matthew Carey, Director/Founder of the Australian Cabaret Summer School and Catherine Campbell, both critically acclaimed cabaret artists. Guest lecturers included Frank Ford, Michael Morley, Libby O’Donovan, Sidonie Henbest and Jo Coventry in an intensive week-long course.
The Summer School was created by Carey in 2011. He’s said he wanted to fill a gap for the aspiring cabaret artists that are looking to get started in the industry or learn more about the craft. The class has grown in its second year, including a few that returned from last year.
Split into two groups, the graduates performed at 5pm and 8pm shows. They displayed an abundance of talent and enthusiasm, and had solid support of the full house crowd. They wrote their10-minute shows in the space of just five days, which was an incredible feat in itself. Material included tales of a broken dream, various obsessions - with love, with shoes and with Brazilian music, longing for romance, having physical attributes that stand out, a battle with depression, being raised by the elderly, a wardrobe malfunction and trials and tribulations of being a big pharma sales rep.
Matthew Carey served as emcee and musical director, beautifully accompanying his graduates.
There was a common thread that ran through each performance – they courageously shared their personal stories under the spotlight. In doing so, they captured the essence of cabaret and achieved exhilarating and intimate storytelling moments. Each participant played to their strengths and embraced what it takes to connect with the audience. The shows were packed with wit, pathos, humour and above all, genuine emotions.
While everyone put in their top effort, there were a few highlights.
Carolyn Curtis delivered a heartfelt performance with The Chocolate Swan. In 10 minutes, she took the audience on a journey - her struggles with weight as a dancer, the gut-wrenching reality of a broken dream and discovering the strength at last. She had the whole room feel her bitter pain and the process of finding resilience with her as she bared her soul. The show had exactly the right amount of humour and a perfect song choice. Her “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was simply the most moving rendition I’ve ever heard.
With success of her debut cabaret En Route to Modesty Lane (which she’ll be performing during the upcoming Adelaide Fringe) under her belt, Annie Siegmann shined with Bike Curious, a show about a slightly unhinged tale of love at first sight. Clad in a pair of bike shorts and a jersey, she was a woman on a mission to find a female cyclist she spotted on the street. The clever stalker song medley had people howling with laughter then nervously looking over their shoulders. Her remarkable innate comedic timing created instant rapport with the audience.
The crowd couldn’t get enough of Brisbane-based comedian Jenny Wynter’s tremendous tour de force that was It Takes a (Retirement) Village – Tales of Being Brought Up by the Elderly. She burst onto the stage, completely owned her songs and ran with them. We went on a whirlwind ride on the Jenny Express and boy, what fun that was! Her hysterical German interpretation of “Land Down Under” has to be seen to be believed. This mini show gave people a taste of her cabaret chops and also served as the best promo for An Unexpected Variety Show, her upcoming Adelaide Fringe show.
It was a celebration of cabaret and the people that share their love for it. The overall quality of the Showcase was a testament to the Australian Summer School mentors, the guest lecturers and the graduates’ passion and commitment.
Congratulations to the class of 2012!
Jenny Wynter’s Australian Cabaret Summer School blog series:
For more information on Australian Cabaret Summer School click here.
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