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cabaret in the day – glorious mud @ the mosman art gallery

Inset pic- nAndrew O’Keefe- singer and narrator. Featured pic- The original Michael Flanders and Donald Swann

Quick. Book now if you haven’t already for the other concerts as part of this year’s ‘Cabaret in the Day ‘ season. As we arrived for this afternoon’s concert we were greeted by House Full and Sold Out signs.

There was much fun for all both the packed house and the performers. Directed by Melvyn Morrow we were privileged to enjoy the dynamic talents of Andrew O’Keefe (singer and narrator ) and Glenn Amer (singer and pianist) in a recreation of some of the songs of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.

The actor and singer Michael Flanders (1922–1975) and the composer, pianist linguist and lyricist Donald Swann (1923–1994) collaborated in writing and performing popular comic songs. They first worked together at a school revue in 1939 and ending up composing over a hundred songs together. Their most famous composition was‘The Hippopotamus” song.

Flanders and Swann were regarded as one of the most sophisticated musical duos in England during the 1950’s and 60’s .Their revue ‘At the Drop of a Hat’ ran for more than two years on London’s West End and ‘At the Drop of Another Hat’ ran for almost as long. In 1964 they toured to Australia and had a sell-out season at Sydney’s Theatre Royal.

Some of the songs are full of biting satire, many are based on animals  they created a ‘Bestiary’ including gnus, elephants, sloths and more. 

In some ways they are similar to Gilbert and Sullivan – some of the songs are social satire and have quite difficult ‘patter’ sections – and also, on occasions, there are hints of a Noel Coward influence.

The songs are firmly of their era. Witty asides focused us both now and took us back to the period , reminding us of what was happening then both socially and politically.

Andrew O’Keefe, Mosman’s own double Logie winning TV compere of ‘ Deal or No Deal’ and ‘Weekend Sunrise’, acted as the show’s narrator. He was in fine voice and was clearly having a great time. Glen Amer accompanied him on piano and also joined in the singing.

The show opened with ‘ A Transport of Delight’ ( Omnibus) ‘ , a satirical description of riding on London’s buses . Then we heard about how ‘The Gas Man Cometh’, a catalogue of disasters trying to get the gas connection repaired – and employment for various workmen – electricians, glaziers etc.

The delightful ‘Gnu’ song followed including a soft shoe shuffle from O’Keefe , sneering and supercilious, and then came the romantic and moving ‘Misalliance- The Honeysuckle and the Bindweed’, which had political undertones.

The appalling weather in the UK was then satirized and with the number, ‘A Song of the Weather’ which parodied Sara Colerdiage’s 1834 poem.

‘Shall We March’ was an ‘anything you can do I can do better ‘ duet for O’Keefe and Amer, and featured a naughty, rather risque ending.

‘Design for Living’ ,another duet, is possibly a warning today for those who would aim to appear on ‘ The Block ‘ or similar TV shows.

Amer then performed a delightful ‘moth’ solo song. This was followed by O’Keefe in a delightful song as an elephant who can’t remember– or is he faking amnesia?!

After a riotous, silly sound effects song O’Keefe became a sinister old roue in ‘ Have Some Madiera M’Dear’ ?

Amer then lamented his lost French horn in a great solo that in parts was  operatic. This was followed by the fun duet ‘In the Bath’.

To a slow waltz like theme O’Keefe then enchanted with the gentle ‘Sloth’ song , dreaming of other lives.

To conclude we were lead in the exuberant The Hippopotamus” song with much audience participation and enjoyment. For an encore we heard the tricky ‘Wompom’ song .

At the show’s conclusion director Melvyn Morrow reminded us about the next two concerts and as an extra special treat Geoffrey Chard, who was in the audience, performed a short taster of his Peter Dawson show, which will be the next concert in the series.

Show running time – an hour and twenty without interval.

GLORIOUS MUD was performed on the afternoon of Sunday 31st May as part of this year’s  Cabaret in the Day series taking place at the Mosman Art Gallery.  Due to popular demand there is a repeat of this concert to be held next Sunday at 3pm .

For more about Cabaret in the Day – Glorious Mud, visit


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