Monday, October 01, 2007

Life Is A [Insert Word Here]

Cabaret. Of course, old chums.

I love theatre, I love music, and I love a good show tune. So it's no surprise that I love cabaret. A few days ago James O'Brien asked me if I wanted to come along to an evening of cabaret at The Stables Theatre, and I jumped at the chance.

I have a soft spot for The Stables Theatre. It actually is a converted horse stables. Once you climb the stairs from the small downstairs bar and ticket office, you find yourself in a space roughly the size of a large living room, with a small triangular stage and about 6 rows of tiered bench seating on two sides of the triangle. It's a small space, but there's a magic that can happen in that place. You are close enough to almost reach out and touch the performers, and because of the limitations of the space most of the productions are spare in terms of sets and trickery, so what you get is an intimate performance and not a lot of fakery. I've seen some wonderful shows there, the touching gay love story "Holding The Man" and a rollicking and very moving musical called "Only Heaven Knows" just to name two.

Anyhoo. The night was a fundraiser for another production to be staged later in the year. The Stables runs on a shoestring, good will, benefactors, fundraisers and an enthusiastic audience that appreciates this sort of up close and personal, sometimes raw and experimental, sort of theatre. It's so important I think to have a theatre that can stage new local works, which is what The Stables is able to do.

Last night's line up of 22 cabaret artistes performed around 25-26 songs. Some artists like Hayden Tee, Phil Scott and Chloe Dallimore are well known and others like the stunning 17 year old Elanoa Rokabaro are just starting to dazzle new audiences. It was wonderful (yes I can tell I'm gushing). The performers chose songs on the theme of Crime & Passion, so there were standards, original songs and even a hilarious intense version of "Guilty" by Banarama and an operatic "Janey's Got A Gun". A couple of the performances were ok, but most of them were fantastic. One of the theatre events where the dialogue between the performer and the audience creates something really special.

It was the first time I had met James's friend Colin, a retired head of drama from one of the large regional university campuses, and he was an absolute hoot. Hanging out in the laneway outside the theatre with a glass of wine at intermission (traditional at The Stables) I was introduced to a couple of actors and performers from the show. Afterwards we went for a late dinner nearby, and had some more laughs.

It was a great night, and a great reminder how much I love the theatre, darlings.


mrpeenee said...

what a wonderful sounding evening.

thombeau said...

Sounds fabulous, kiddo! Glad you've been enjoying the weekend!

I'm actually doing a benefit for a local theatre company next month. Can't wait!

The Other Andrew said...

Thanks boys, it really was a blast. There is nothing quite like a live performance is there? That great dialogue between the performer and the audience.

Thombeau, let us know about your benefit when it happens! Sounds good. What do you plan on doing?

thombeau said...

It's actually going to be a concert performance of the new album (finally out in a couple of weeks!) The performance space is really cool, and the head of the theatre company is an old mentor of mine (from almost 30 years ago!)

A few years ago I performed in another theatre benefit for a different troupe, it was more of a cabaret-like thing. I did a few pieces and blew everyone away! (Not that that was my intention, but my stuff is very intense.) Anyway, it's great that you support small theatres, they are so necessary and yet need all the help they can get!

The Other Andrew said...

Your music involves a lot of sampling and stuff doesn't it? (Pardon my ignorance if this isn't the case) Do you incorporate this into the live performance? Inquiring minds need to know.

thombeau said...

A lot of the backing tracks are pre-programmed. Sometimes I have an entire band with me, other times just a few people. For the upcoming gigs, the music will be coming from a computer and effects processor, which my partner will control. The lead vocals, of course, are live. And fabulous!

The theatre show will be fun because the venue just got a state-of-the-art sound and light system. It's gonna be a trip!

(Thanks for asking!)

The Other Andrew said...

Wah, I wanna see! :( Maybe someone could YouTube you?...