Review “All That Jazz – A touch of Chicago”

On a chilly May afternoon, I treated my mother to an outing to Speakeasy HQ to enjoy an afternoon of jazzy show tunes from and inspired by the musical “Chicago”. The opening song “All That Jazz” was sung with great gusto and flair by all three performers that were entertaining us that day: Matt Allegro, Carly Daley and Alexandria Avery.  This opening number set the tone for the entertainment to follow, and certainly set the bar high for the afternoon.

  
Fans of the musical “Chicago” will be pleased to hear that this show included many of hits and upbeat numbers  – among them “Cell Block Tango” (which I particularly enjoyed) and the fun “When you’re good to mama”. The latter was performed by Matt Allegro, who isn’t afraid to dress up. In fact, during this show Matt performed many different styles of songs. My mum is convinced that he really should be on Broadway or in Vegas!


  

The “Chicago” extravaganza continued with renditions of “All I care about” “Roxie” and “Razzle Dazzle”.  Carly and Alexandria sung their songs with gusto and were playful with the audience, using props on stage or winking and flicking their hair. This made their performance very alluring, and the audience couldn’t help but be taken along for the ride. This show included plenty of song choices to satisfy existing fans (and new “Chicago” fans alike!). An enjoyable aspect of the afternoon was the addition of songs from other musicals that evoked the styles and flair of the 1920’s – songs from “Cabaret” and “Victor/Victoria” were presented with plenty of sizzle and emotion. I was delighted that “All that Jazz” featured one of my favourite songs from the musical “Cabaret” – ‘Maybe This Time’. That particular song always leaves me a little misty eyed.

   

The afternoon’s entertainment concluded with a great set by the fabulously talented Roy Maloy (who not only runs Speakeasy HQ, but is a world record holder AND can sing well!). Roy treated us to a short musical set featuring a jazzy version of the Nirvana classic ‘Smells like teen spirit’ and the Bobby Darin hit ‘Mack the Knife’. Just when the audience thought the show was about to end, Matt Allegro reappeared at the piano to play and sing us some bonus songs! My mum was particularly thrilled. Matt treated the audience to a cheerful medley of songs about singing, the (Melbourne!) weather and Speakeasy HQ. Matt even dedicated a clever song to his smartphone.

This show is a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the city. On the way home, my mother and I were not troubled by the windy and gloomy weather as Speakeasy HQ (and the talented singing team of Matt Allegro, Carly Daley and Alexandria Avery) had placed cheerful songs in our minds and hearts. Weeks later, my mother is still mentioning how much she enjoyed the show. I’m really glad I could take her along to my favourite live performance venue in the city  – Speakeasy HQ – and share an afternoon of splendid music.

VERDICT: A fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and the perfect show to bring a parent or friend along to (especially if they enjoy jazz, musicals, and the 1920’s style). All performers were clearly talented at their craft and left the audience wanting more.

Tickets: There is only 1 more chance to catch this show in May! For tickets and information, visit: http://www.speakeasy-hq.com/

Disclaimer: I attended this show as a guest of Speakeasy HQ.

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Review: “With Love, From Ella” – performed by Lady Fox

On one of the last mild evenings of the usually cool month of April, a small group of friends and I met up at Speakeasy HQ in city for a smooth evening of jazz tunes. The show we thoroughly enjoyed was a tribute show to the jazz great Ella Fitzgerald, and was performed by the supremely talented Lady Fox. We all felt very fortunate to be allocated some fantastic seats and couldn’t wait for the show to begin. Speakeasy HQ creator (and skilled showman) Roy Maloy opened the evening with some songs to set the mood and to whet our jazz appetites for the evening’s entertainment.

   

Lady Fox glided on stage dressed in a beautiful silky sky blue dress, adorned with pearls and a sparkly headpiece. Lady Fox commenced her first set with the sweet Ella Fitzgerald song “Misty”. I’m a big fan of songs about dreams (dreams is one of my favourite song themes) so I was very pleased when Lady Fox sang another classic “Dream a Little Dream of Me”. In fact, if you’re a jazz fan or an Ella Fitzgerald aficionado then I’m sure you’ll be delighted with all the iconic songs performed by Lady Fox.

An aspect of this show I particularly enjoyed was Lady Fox explaining Ella’s background and how she became a performer. As a child, jazz music wasn’t played in my household so while I knew some of Ella Fitzgerald’s popular hits I was completely unaware of her personal story. In between singing some of Ella’s songs, Lady Fox mentioned key aspects of Ella Fitzgerald’s life story – family aspects and how her contacts helped her to succeed in her performance career. There always seems to be some sadness behind every story of greatness, and Ella’s story is no exception to this (especially considering the era she grew up in).

   

Throughout the show, Lady Fox proved that she could take the audience to different places with her song performances. One moment, she had the audience swaying to “Everyday is Valentine’s Day” and the next she would turn up the tempo and the heat with sultry renditions of “Fever” and “Whatever Lola Wants”. I enjoyed the variety of the music, as Lady Fox mentioned that Ella Fitzgerald had collaborated with other artists during her life, songs by Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Sinatra were included in the show – all sung in Ella’s iconic style.

It’s hard not to get drawn into the story of Ella Fitzgerald and her music, especially when performed by Lady Fox – who is clearly a fan and admirer of Ella. Lady Fox highlighted that Ella Fitzgerald was such a hardworking artist, and overcame many struggles in her life so it is hard not to admire someone who accomplishes all of those things in life.

 

Lady Fox left us with some gutsy and entertaining songs to finish the evening :”Black Coffee” – which I thought was very apt for a Melbourne, coffee loving crowd-  and “The Lady is a Tramp”. Lady Fox sings with passion in her voice and eyes, and I particularly noticed this during these last songs. We were lucky to have Lady Fox offer us an Encore – if you’re an Ella Fitzgerald fan, you’ll have to see this for yourself as I’m sure you’ll appreciate (and enjoy) it!

As it happened, on the day I saw this show I was very stressed – many things had to be managed and attended to and I felt like I was losing time. I attended “With Love, from Ella” at Speakeasy HQ and the beautiful songs of the evening just melted all my troubles away. Such is the power of Ella’s music performed by Lady Fox (and even better when shared with friends!) This is also part of the beauty and charm of Speakeasy HQ.

*Disclaimer: I attended this show as a guest of Speakeasy HQ

I believe that the current run of “With Love, From Ella” has come to a close, however this show may return, and Speakeasy HQ often run jazz shows / shows featuring music from a certain era.
For more information, visit: http://www.speakeasy-hq.com/