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a little cabaret of seldom heard treasures

This image: The Cast of A Little Cabaret
Featured image: Siobhan Clifford, Olivia Vasquez, Denise Devlin, & Embla Bishop
Production images: Christopher Starnawski (Omnes Photography)

A LITTLE CABARET is a fundraiser for Little Triangle’s November production of Michael John LaChiusa & George C. Wolfe’s THE WILD PARTY and its short run at the Sydney Fringe is pretty much sold out. With good reason.  There’s a commitment to excellence inside this little company that spills over the footlights in all their work. Staged or simply sung. Here we have seven gorgeous voices performing songs chosen with care to be interesting and unusual.  Celebrating the unsung is the publicity tagline and what a great program it turns out to be.

It’s just a lovely night to share with lovers of musical theatre as some songs ooze with familiarity and others are go-home-and-google offerings.  Directed by Alexander Andrews and accompanied by Conrad Hamill there are brief introductions “another woman sits at another bar alone” … “ A young wife has a secret.”

They are a stellar group of singers and in true cabaret style, they stay on stage for the whole 80 minutes.  And each is as invested in their colleagues’ songs and as we.  As the voices draw us in  and the room slips away, they join us in that moment. But they are not completely observers, those boys get a bit raucous behind the women in There’s Got to be Something Better Than This while the women dazzle with sass and personality plus.  And for my friends and I that’s what makes this such and entertaining evening. These performers are not just singers. They are musical theatre singers. What that means for an audience is music delivered with personal flair and don’t look away character.

Take Embla Bishop giving us Tom with the potency of instant attraction and the weariness of the ordinary. “angels sigh” and you could hear spin drop as her soprano soared and the piano basslined as counterpoint .  Or Denise Devlin giving us a very funny and cranky Just One Step with brilliantly comic “whoops”! And later Aaron Robuck brings palpable longing and wry sadness as the room sits enthralled by a melancholy escalating in Why from tick…tick…BOOM .

And tradition is disrupted to enhance the reach of some of the songs. Far From the Home I Love from Fiddler is a shared song from Siobhan Clifford and Jessie Layt and all the more poignant for it.  Bringing this song as a duet foregrounds the pathos and gentle strength of the words.  The same with When Your Mind’s Made Up which begins with the rich blend of Thomas Stevenson and Olivia Vasquez and then intelligent arrangements swell to include the other voices and each face extends the meaning and power of the song. Just soaring.

Conrad Hamill’s accompaniment is also wonderful in this celebration of the unsung.  Avoiding any over-orchestration his virtuosity sits discreetly behind the singers from the dazzling single note work in the first song If You Can Find Me, I’m Here to the responsive and sensitive volume changes and pauses in Dust and Ashes.

A LITTLE CABARET from Little Triangle [Facebook] is a great night of seldom heard musical theatre treasures presented with variety, surprise and the perfection of voices raised in love of singing.  I am very much looking forward to THE WILD PARTY.

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