Melbourne Fringe Festival Review: Cabaret Slumber Party!

 Cabaret Slumber Party! is performed and hosted by Andrew Iles, a man with an impressive vocal ability and some sweet dance moves. Held in the downstairs room of The Butterfly Club, this show is the slumber party your parents would prefer that you perhaps not attend -there are risque lyrics and there is partial nudity BUT like all slumber parties, there is also a lot of fun! One aspect I particularly enjoyed is that audience members are allowed to wear onesies or pyjamas – yes, you read that right, I was truly living the dream when I rocked up to the show at the suitably late timeslot of 10pm wearing a dragon onesie with a cocktail in hand!

Andrew Iles take his audience on a journey through iconic songs from popular movies of his youth (including some Disney favourites) while telling humorous anecdotes from his life and growing up. I was delighted that some of the songs Andrew Iles parodied were from the Backstreet Boys, and from the movies ‘Grease’ and ‘Xanadu’.  I especially enjoyed a song where Andrew replaced the lyrics with some Melbourne specific ones. Many times during his show Andrew was moving and even leaping around the stage energetically, which was entertaining – you can’t help but grin when you see such exuberance! A cluster of audience members in animal onesies (myself included) provided some backing / chorus noises during some of his songs which made me so happy. This show is much more than one (talented!) pyjama clad man singing to his audience – there are moments of audience participation and a time where everyone gets to reveal their celebrity crushes. This made me smile as it reminded me of the classic slumber party game ‘truth or dare’ – luckily for the audience, Andrew Iles did not request any dares from us that evening.

 VERDICT: I wish all shows could be like this – there’s something better about a show that allows you to watch in the comfort of a onesie  / pair of pyjamas. It’s truly like the best of both worlds – home comforts in front of a live show. Growing up may be hard and have its pains, but all that is forgotten during the enjoyable nostalgic romp of Cabaret Slumber Party! Sneak out of the house and come along to the show (but don’t tell your parents!)

 *Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of the performer.


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Melb Fringe Festival Review: ‘The Last King of Vaudeville’

 Idris Stanton is the self proclaimed Last King of Vaudeville – and after watching his show at the Melbourne Fringe Festival I believe it! Tucked away in the “Underground” theatre of the North Melbourne arts house with the audience clustered around cabaret tables, Idris presented his show with much style and flair. Dressed in an ensemble that perhaps indicated that he had been to many places or had been involved in many kinds of performances, Idris appeared on stage with a chainsaw – much to a mixture of delight / horror / surprise of audience members! I will leave you to discover for yourself exactly what happens with the chainsaw, however it was one hell of a show opener. Very attention grabbing and had many audience members (including myself) on the edge of our seats. Nothing like some danger to shake the audience out of the everyday and get their hearts pounding!

 Idris went on to describe vaudeville as ‘easily digestible snippets of entertainment’ and that’s exactly what his show was (not forgetting some dangerous, hilarious and exciting elements of his show of course!). Idris’ show was well structured and included items I’d come to expect from vaudeville shows – juggling, comedy and even a bit of magic were all included – however Idris has this flair that I find hard to describe. He is very much the rockstar of vaudeville, and including a segment of air guitar during his show proved that to me. I very much enjoyed his comedic segments, which were a mix of stories and personal observations (especially about human nature and technology) as well as his use of drama / dramatic fades and hilariously elastic facial expressions. Idris reached out to his audience, and used audience reactions and participation to create some especially hilarious scenes on stage. I can only describe the finale as gripping but it was a fantastic finale indeed – I simply do not know how he does it! Idris Stanton is a rockstar of many, many talents.

 Idris Stanton’s show really is a glorious mash up of physical comedy, echoes of rock concerts and vaudeville stunts. I loved every minute, and I can’t wait to see another solo show from him. They always say ‘leave the audience wanting more’ and Idris certainly did that.

 VERDICT: Thoroughly entertaining, wish I could have seen it twice or at least brought friends along! If you hear the name Idris Stanton, please do make an effort to see his show – I’m sure you’ll come away entertained and impressed. All hail the Last King of Vaudeville!


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Review: ‘Sleight Night’ at The Laneway Theatre

I was very excited to attend the premiere show of a new monthly magic show in Melbourne called ‘Sleight Night’. Before I get into the details of the show, I feel that the brand new venue the show was in – The Laneway Theatre – warrants its own mini review so I guess this review is in two parts! Strap yourselves in for a dual review.

The Laneway Theatre


 The Laneway Theatre is tucked down a dark alley in the inner Northern suburbs  of Melbourne. Upon purchasing tickets to a show in the theatre, you’re provided with full details of how to find the mysterious place of magic. There’s a lack of formal signs showing the way, however I liked that aspect as it rewards the curious (and perhaps brave!) Indeed as my friend and I made our way to the theatre we found a small group of people milling about the nearest corner, unsure of how to find it. The entrance to the theatre itself must be experienced first hand, so I won’t go into full details here!

 The Laneway Theatre is the creation of well known Melbourne master magician Tim Ellis, who was also appearing in the show that night. Tim is ever the gracious host and I was surprised to find that I could touch many of the artefacts, props and curious dotted within the rooms and walls of the theatre (oh yes, there’s more than one room to explore for attendees!) The theatre does include things I’d expect – a small snack table, tiered seating, and a well designed table for close up magic (which is the specialty of the theatre) – however it is so much more than that. The seats themselves are very roomy and plush (no more sitting on fold up chairs like in so many theatres around town!) and the setting is magical in itself – the room was full of excitement, anticipation and mystery well before the show began.

The Show – Sleight Night

  Sleight Night is to be one of many (I hope!) regular shows within The Laneway Theatre and occurs on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. Hosted by ‘Honest Con Man’ Nicholas J Johnson, the show features 4 performers of close up magic. I felt so lucky that on the evening I attended the show, the lineup included many of my favourites!

The theatre felt so intimate and exclusive that I felt that the audience was brought a little closer to each performer. It felt like each performer could see the audience well, so you didn’t want to let the magicians catch you looking away from the action. I also felt that as the show had a limited lineup of performers that each brought their ‘A’ game and best material for the evening. Being an evening of close up magic, there was plenty of card magic but each performer brought along their own special flair to their performances, so if you’re thinking this show was all about cards, then think again!

 The lineup for this show changes each month but on the evening I attended, the audience witnessed some truly astounding and mind blowing magic from magicians Nick Kay, Nicola Marie – Magicianess, Nigel Xu and theatre creator Tim Ellis. Each performer presented pieces of magic that stood out from the rest (often resulting in gasps from the audience), however I will mention some personal highlights here. There’s nothing quite like Nick Kay and the magic he can create with the humble iPad. Quick witted and fast talking, Nick’s iPad routine never fails to make me smile and fill my mind with wonder. Nicola Marie is a young magician but presents magic like nothing I’ve seen from her older peers. What she can do with a packet of gum will have you scratching your head and giving each gum packet you see in the future with a look of suspicion! Nigel Xu transported us all to China and created non stop laughs during his act, and Tim Ellis involved many audience members in a thoroughly entertaining card prediction.

 The Laneway Theatre is truly an ‘oasis of magic’ in a fast paced, modern world. I’ve never felt so truly welcomed by so many within a magic theatre so it’s a real credit to Tim Ellis that he has created a theatre in order to share more magic with the citizens of Melbourne. With regular shows held here, it ensures that there will always be regular magic shows held in Melbourne for years to come.

 VERDICT: for a truly unique magic experience, do come to The Laneway Theatre! The show and theatre itself are best enjoyed with friends so do come along in a group and make a fun evening out of it.

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Review: Snake Oil Cabaret at The Shelley Room

It was another Saturday night in September that my man and I returned to The Shelley Room in North Fitzroy, eager for a night of wonderful entertainment. Both of us had no idea what was in store for us on this evening – the words ‘Snake Oil’ conjure up visions of vintage carnival swindlers and purveyors of fake medicine. We were wondering just what we were in for, when a pair of performers dressed in what I would regard as vintage carnival styled outfits appeared at the door to let us in – we were intrigued!

 The show was hosted by that same pair of welcoming performers – Hannibal and Cherri Figjam – who were introduced as brother and sister. If you were wondering if there’s any sibling rivalry happening here well that becomes very apparent during the show (with amusing consequences of course!). Hannibal and Cherri opened the show by singing a parody of the song “I’ve got a dream” from the Disney movie ‘Tangled’ which made my eyes light up as that song is one of my all time favourites! Hannibal and Cherri went to extra effort to make sure the audience was included by pointing to different audience members during the song. It certainly made for an upbeat and positive opening to the show. During their introduction, Hannibal and Cherri also mentioned what styles of performance the audience could expect from the show – burlesque, comedy and singing – which made the audience excited for what was to come.

 The first performer to grace the stage with his fabulousness was Lord Lovat – a star of boylesque. For those who have never seen Lord Lovat grace the stage, then you simply must! He’s a master of tease and you’d be surprised what he can do wearing a pair of heels. A crowd pleaser (and teaser), Lord Lovat thrilled the audience and had everyone purring for more.

 Burlesque beauty Camilla Cream appeared next with a routine inspired by a god of fertility and wine, featuring some ballet moves. While the theme was classical, let me assure you that this routine held plenty of surprises! The were times when the audience gasped and were held in moments of wonder. Camilla’s playful nature made this performance a total treat.

Sandwiched between burlesque routines (lucky him!) was singer and comedian Andrew Iles. I’ve been fortunate enough to hear Andrew sing before, and was delighted to see him take to the stage again. Andrew pleased the audience greatly by singing a parody of the Grease hit ‘Beauty School Dropout’. Aside from his impressive vocal range and the amusing lyrics, his witty rejoinders and facial expressions made his performance shine. The only shame was that he did not come back to sing more – I guess we’ll just have to keep a look out for his future shows!

 Rounding out the first half of the entertaining first half was the brightly delightful Marilyn Mocktail looking every part the Vegas showgirl. Part dancing, part burlesque and all fun, Marilyn had the audience cheering and clapping along. Part of Marilyn’s charms are her brilliant smiles and cheeky winks. She never fails to put a smile on my face, so if you have the chance to see her perform then please go and see her!

 At various points during the show, Hannibal and Cherri visited the audience to sing – at times as a duet, and at other times solo (they each didn’t want the other sibling to shine too much!). Hannibal often lingered just off stage, but not so far away that Cherri couldn’t hear his complaints or jibes. The siblings maintained a playful nature, neither one being too harsh, and it was fun when the audience decided one sibling was giving the other a hard time – resulting in some pantomime style responses! Hannibal and Cherri displayed sweet and tart personalities in equal measure – with a bit of tease on the side of course. Extra mention of the evening goes to Liberty Foxx (yet another talented burlesque performer) who was the ‘stage kitty’ for the evening, helping to keep the stage neat and tidy in between acts. Liberty Foxx was the sweetest stage kitty and deserves to be recognised too.

This was to be the final show held in The Shelley Room (with the producers moving the show to a new location in future) so during the second half of this show, each performer did not hold back and I feel that each brought their own show stopping performances. I do not want to give away too much regarding each performance as the burlesque and boylesque performances were top rate and I wish everyone could revel in these performances themselves….however I will provide a tiny taste for you of what went down in The Shelley Room that night!

 In a Sesame Street inspired routine, Camilla Cream visited the audience as Big Bird – let me tell you that this bird knows a thing or two! Camilla strutted around the audience and got up to plenty of mischief behind her feathers….she sent feathers flying and hearts fluttering. Letters relating to this performance are the letter O, M and G! I could use the entire alphabet to describe how much I enjoyed this performance, however I’ll leave it at Amazingly Brilliant and Clever.

 Marilyn Mocktail returned and she was on fire during her routine! Luckily for herself and her audience, they were material flames but Marilyn turned up the heat in the room with her fire inspired routine. I had previously seen teasers of this routine so I was excited to see the performance in its entirety – I was not disappointed! Marilyn shone as she shimmied and danced as flames and then had a costume and song change as the routine evolved. It was a clever and theatrical routine right up to the very end and I loved it. It was one of the highlights of the evening for me. I could see how much effort Marilyn had gone to for every detail of this routine, and that ended up making it so much more special and impressive.

 Approaching the end of the show, Eve Ellenbogan appeared onstage and lured the audience away from the world of burlesque and into the land of comedy. Eve read the audience well (in terms of demographic and background) and recounted amusing tales of share housing and dating  – with particular emphasis on her ‘type’. While some jokes bordered on lewd, she held the line well and had plenty of great one liners which the crowd enjoyed.

 Lord Lovat headlined the evening with his signature boylesque routine – he is so fine and twerked it for all to see! I particularly enjoyed the mixture of slight shock and intrigue on my man’s face as I’m sure he has never seen quite an act like this before! Lord Lovat is by no means shy and many audience members close to the stage were lucky enough to be paid a cheeky visit! Lord Lovat’s performance left everyone on a high, cheering for more.

At the end of the evening, it was apparent that The Shelley Room meant so much to the performers and producers of the show. Afterwards, there were many hugs going around and wistful looks. My man and I felt lucky to be in so much lovely company, and to have been entertained so grandly. Do keep your eye out for the next venue and show the producers have in store for everyone, as I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll hear about Snake Oil Cabaret!

*Disclaimer: We attended this show as guests of Camilla Cream

Review: Le Grande Cabaret at The Shelley Room

On a crisp Spring evening, my man and I ventured to the eclectic suburb of North Fitzroy to visit a venue called ‘The Shelley Room’. Upon finding the venue, we were warmly greeted by the ever gracious and gorgeous host, Camilla Cream, who led us to our seats. The intimate theatre was well set up with a roomy stage backed by coloured curtains (echoing perhaps the billowing of a circus tent) with fairy lights strung across the ceiling. Rows of seats were near the stage, with tables and some lounges down the other side of the room. While we waited for the show to start, we enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of the room and its patrons. The European cabaret music playing in the background added to the bohemian atmosphere. I have been trying to attend this event for months, so I was super excited to have finally made it along and was curious to see what sorts of adventures the evening had in store for my man and I.

Opening the show was debonair MC and entertainer Chante Dumont. Ever so charming, Chante sung the audience a special version of ‘Be Our Guest’ which included amusing burlesque themed lyrics. This was especially entertaining as Chante sounded exactly like Lumiere (from Beauty and the Beast) with an additional Gomez Addams charm. Rarely do I find MC’s to be as engaging and witty as Chante was so I was impressed! Chante continued to be the consummate entertainer throughout the show as he introduced each act with blurb of information. Viola Verve was the first burlesque beauty to emerge on stage with a classic burlesque tease routine. Viola was sassy, sweet and sultry, teasing the audience with her fluffy feather boa while giving the audience sly smiles and winks. Her act was the perfect show opener – a mix of sweet and spice to make the audience feel nice!

Appearing next to the side of the stage behind a set of blinds, was O Nyx with a noir themed routine. I loved her use of the blinds to increase mystery and echo films of days past, as she piqued the curiosity of her audience. O Nyx performed a seductive routine, playfully pulling the audience into her noir world. She was irresistible, and I doubt anyone in the audience was immune to her charms.

Delving into a completely different storyline, Kerryx appeared on stage with her traditional burlesque fans (the large kind that can cover your entire body) swapped out for palm leaves and greenery. The audience was invited to luxuriate in original sin as Kerryx depicted Eve. I enjoyed Kerryx’s use of her gaze as she would lift her eyes and slowly gaze at the audience, almost daring them to look away. This was truly a garden of delights, as the audience had a chance peep through the palm fronds into the garden of Eden. It was a fine display of the female form and a clever routine. I especially enjoyed when Kerryx ventured out into the audience, caressing faces and offering a lucky chosen person or two to take a bite of her apple. I found this routine to be ‘other worldly’, possessing a celestial charm.

On this evening, the audience was treated to some Boylesque (for those unaware, this refers to Burlesque routines performed by males). With a full stage set up with props, Sonny James emerged a complete storyteller as he made his way past the audience and pretended to clean tables along the way. Sonny made use of all props (and costume elements) available to him, which I enjoyed. While his routine took some time to reach the exciting moments, Sonny was a crowd pleaser and by the end of the performance he had raised the temperature of the room – especially evident by the increasing levels of noise and applause from the audience.

The final act of the show’s first half was from Chastity de Vice. Again, the theme of her act was different, with Chastity appearing as a green fairy – with almost a ‘children’s entertainer’ vibe about her. Naturally, this made me VERY excited! My eyes lit up with joy when she took to the stage in her fairy outfit, toting booze and starting her sparkly boombox. Oh, how Chastity danced for her audience! It almost seemed as though a 90’s DJ had taken over her boombox until the dance of the sugarplum fairies was playing – mixed in with some dubstep of course! Accompanying Chastity’s cheerful dancing, were a fantastic range of facial expressions. With the audience clapping along to her every command, Chastity had no troubles when enlisting the help of some audience members during her act to hold some of her accessories. I found Chastity to be irresistibly cheerful, you couldn’t help but smile while she was performing. I can’t wait to see more from her.

Interval time was suddenly upon the audience, and I used the time to speak to some of my friends in the audience and to see how my man was finding the show. I had not told him many details about the show, and he has only seen burlesque shows twice so far. I was pleased to see that he was enjoying the evening and appreciating all the different performance styles that were on offer, along with the various costumes. Interval time was quite generous, leaving ample time for audience members to get a drink from the well stocked bar, go to the bathroom or have a smoke (or all three!). Chante Dumont reappeared after interval to the delight of the audience, to sing classic songs and to share his unique brand of comedy. His singing voice was rather enchanting and took me away to another place and time. Unbeknown to me, for the rest of the show each performer seen in the first half returned with a completely different character and routine! I found this impressive as I could see how much effort each artist had put into their performances during the first half of the show.

I was delighted to find the first performer of the second half to be Chastity de Vice! This time she appeared as a siren – the type of mythical creature that lives in the ocean, tempting men to their death. Chastity wore an elaborate headdress and used silk fans during her performance that mimiced the waves of the ocean. Chastity’s act was alluring and mesmerising, with her steady gaze and seductive silk fan routine. Chastity pulled all those in the audience under the waves with her, to the depths of seduction.

Viola Verve made her reappearance onstage as a doll-like mime. Viola was an adorable noir clown mime, with soulful eyes and a playful spirit. She paused during her routine to silently regard her audience and lap up the cheers and applause before removing her accessories and displaying a floor routine for her audience. I don’t see mimes very often in any areas of my life, so I was intrigued and enchanted by Viola’s every move. If you have the chance to see her perform, I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching her as much as I did! Viola’s act was followed by Sonny James, who also appeared as a mime. While the placement of two mime acts following each other seemed odd, Sonny’s performance was a completely different affair -a poignant piece of physical theatre, with poetic movements and political flair. Sonny’s performance was emotive, set to Leonard Cohen’s “Sound of Silence” and once again elicited a large round of applause and cheers from the audience.

Approaching the end of the evening, O Nyx appeared as a complete “wild child”  – think of a cross between a leather clad biker and a burlesque performer and you would reach O Nyx. O Nyx made a point of teasing her audience as she made her way to the stage – no one was spare from her glares, winks, straddles or pouts! Her performance was unbridled sass and raunch. I enjoyed her wild streak – whether she was on all fours and showing off her athletic body, or taking cheeky swigs from her bottle of Sailor Jerry. This routine from O Nyx even raised my temperature – I felt like a fire inside needed to be quenched after indulging in O Nyx’s routine. O Nyx knows you want her and may even deny you simply because of that fact so beware!

As the evening drew to a close the headline act, Kerryx, appeared in a sweeping lace outfit with a veil over her eyes and performed a ‘pain versus pleasure’ routine. Kerryx depicted a mysterious stranger travelling to unknown places, and explored the boundaries between tension and seduction. Set to a song with a pronounced beat, Kerryx used her hands and an assortment of ‘toys’ in her suitcase to explore tension and pain. During this set, Kerryx towered over her audience, and when she regarded the audience under her gaze we were unaware of this, as she was veiled. I must admit that I find this performance style unusual. While I’m sure Kerryx was in no danger or extreme pain during the performance, I couldn’t help but wince and grimace at some points. It can be a challenge to witness this performance style if you’re not accustomed to it. I also found this was a strange act to end the evening with as it brought such a different vibe with it, however I appreciate that this may have been deliberate – the performance style was certainly memorable!

As my man and I made our way home, the car ride was filled with animated chats about which portions of the show we enjoyed the most. I have to say that the standout performers for us were Chastity de Vice and O Nyx – both used their props well and had engaging expressions and storylines to their performances. I was also enchanted by Viola Verve, while my man especially enjoyed Sonny James’ storyline and props. This show was unlike any other show I’d seen, simply for the many distinct burlesque performance styles presented. It was like a burlesque buffet, and I left the show feeling thoroughly entertained and blessed to have indulged in such an evening. I express gratitude to all the performers, and the producers (especially to Camilla Cream) for providing such exquisite entertainment.

I believe ‘Le Grande Cabaret’ may be moving to a new venue soon, however be sure to keep updated via their Facebook page, along with the show’s producers – Cherries and Cream Productions. Relevant links are below.

Le Grande Cabaret page:

Cherries and Cream Productions page:

*Disclaimer: we attended this show as guests of Camilla Cream.

Review of “At Last” – Songs from the Golden Era of Romance

On the final evening of Winter, I ventured out once more after work to the fantastic vaudeville venue in Melbourne – Speakeasy HQ – for an evening of charming entertainment. On the evening’s bill were identical twins Amy & Mel Djuric singing a variety of songs, with a focus on those of Ella Fitzgerald.

I have been blessed to have previously seen short performances from Amy & Mel, however for those who are yet to see them perform let me assure you that you’re in for a visual and auditory treat! Dressed in matching stunning red gowns with sparkling chokers, Amy & Mel easily commanded the attention of all audience members.

 Much of this show seemed to be an ‘Ella Fitzgerald Extravaganza’ with Amy & Mel singing beloved Ella classics such as “Summertime”, “At Last” and “Lullaby of Birdland”. If you’re keen on the songs of Ella Fitzgerald or that era of music, then watch out for your next opportunity to see this show! One aspect I enjoyed about this show was that each twin had many solo times to shine on stage, mixed in with some fantastic and entertaining duets. Along with their golden voices, Amy & Mel used the stage well and ensured that the audience were given plenty of smiles, cheeky glances and sassy dance moves.

  There were times that I could see the joy and happiness shine in Amy & Mel’s eyes during their performances, and they had the audience captivated – many couldn’t take their eyes off Amy & Mel! I enjoyed the range of songs performed -classic hits alongside modern songs sung in a jazzy or lounge style. Other songs had a dreamlike, fairytale quality to them. A strength of the show was the different vocal ranges of the twins, with one favouring the high, sweet notes and the other the lower, more sultry tones. Naturally, Amy & Mel played to their own strengths in this area with their song choices.

 Amy & Mel were playful and sweet at times, then brought all the sass the next moment. Their vocal strengths and song choices made for an immensely enjoyable show. If you’ve never seen singing twins perform then I recommend you go and see a performance by Amy & Mel – yes, they are as adorable and sweet as you can imagine!

VERDICT: A splendid evening featuring some enchanting singers and well chosen songs. If Ella Fitzgerald and her era of music are your cup of tea, then you’ll surely enjoy this show.

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