Review: “Lush Life: An excavation of the Queer history of jazz” performed by James Halloran

A lovely friend and I accepted VIP tickets to a new show “Lush Life: An excavation of the Queer history of jazz” (referenced here as “Lush Life”) appearing at a brand new venue – The Bordello Theatre. This review will be in two parts – one part on the theatre and the next part on the show – as there is just so much to write about!

The newest venue in town: The Bordello Theatre

Curious name for a theatre, I hear you remark and well yes it is because this new theatre is located in the attic of the ‘Top of the Town’ brothel! Before you ask, we waited downstairs until a small group of audience members had assembled and then we were chaperoned into the theatre. There was no ‘straying off the path’ despite the exciting location, however I’m sure that was for the best. Up a few flights of stairs we arrived at a curious entrance and then suddenly we were inside the theatre. We were all warmly greeted and then had a chance to take a quick look around before finding a seat. The theatre itself is in tones of red, black and metallic hues giving it a premium and luxurious feel. The feature piece of The Bordello Theatre is unquestionably the large lipstick red ‘chesterfield lounge’ panels serving as the stage backdrop. The panels had such a lush texture to them, I was ever so tempted to touch the panels after the show (I did however exert some restraint!). As it was VIP opening night, we also had gift bags on our seats which contained some clever pieces of marketing as well as a small bottle of water – appreciated given the hot weather that day. I marvelled at how a theatre could be established in such an unassuming and hidden location, while I waited for the show to begin. They say you are always welcome at the ‘Top of the Town’ and this extends to The Bordello Theatre.

The show: “Lush Life: An excavation of the Queer history of jazz”
performed by James Halloran


In “Lush Life”, Melbourne musician and cabaret artist James Halloran took the audience on a journey which explored a handful of queer pioneers of Jazz across history and contemporary music. I’ll admit that I do not experience Jazz as regularly as other forms and styles of entertainment so I feel much less knowledgeable about the greats of Jazz and Jazz history. I needn’t have worried about that as, in tune with the needs and  demographic of his audience, James Halloran’s show was a jaunt back in time to the places and faces you may not have heard about in the history books. The artists that were talented during their time but not paid their dues by peers or society. It was a show as much about storytelling as it was about music and singing and the storytelling enhanced the audience’s enjoyment of the show. Accompanied by a guitarist on stage, James Halloran appeared in a demure outfit with a velvety headpiece and began to sing in sultry tones much to the delight of the audience. James has soft eyes, a soulful voice and sung each song with care but ensured that each emphatic word or note was in the right place.

Particular show highlights for me were the songs “My Funny Valentine” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” by lyricist Lorenz Hart (one half of the duo Rodgers and Hart) and James’ stories about the life and adventures of Sir Noel Coward (among others, such as Billy Strayhorn). The descriptions of the types and times of all the characters James Halloran hones in on during his show creates a rich tapestry for the audience to admire and absorb. It is clear that James admires and respects the performers he explores in “Lush Life” as each song is treated tenderly with care. Such is the power of the songs and James’ singing that it was the type of music I imagined myself listening to from a gramaphone while on a chaise lounge with a drink in hand- a lush evening of music indeed! “Lush Life” is full of songs with strong emotions attached – lust, grief, heartbreak – yet the show remained uplifting and I was grateful for the stories and messages within. In a word, Lush Life was bliss. My friend and I left the theatre feeling very spoilt and very relaxed, like we had temporarily left the hustle and bustle of the city for an oasis of Jazz.

 VERDICT: If you like Jazz / enjoy Jazz music styles then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this show. If you’re new to Jazz (like me!) or you’re not sure what to expect then take the chance and come along to “Lush Life”. At the end of the night you’ll have learned so much and enjoyed some beautiful songs along the way.

Tickets / more information: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=340021

Note: My friend and I attended this event as guests of Speakeasy HQ / The Bordello Theatre.

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Review: “Genuinely Impossible” performed by Lawson Reeves

 Recently I was lucky enough to attend opening night of Lawson Reeves’ magic show called “Genuinely Impossible”. Lawson Reeves is a media identity (and some of you may know him as a past Big Brother housemate), however I’ve never seen him present a solo magic show so I was keen to attend and see what impossible scenarios Lawson could conjure!

Lawson’s show is at The Butterfly Club – a fascinating and wonderfully well known cabaret club and bar down an alley in the city of Melbourne. I’ve been blessed to visit The Butterfly Club many times, but for those who haven’t I heartily recommend a visit. Aside from the very welcoming box office and bar staff, there are all manner of curios and antiques lining the walls and bookcases within the club – it’s like a feast for the eyes before you even reach showtime! Legend has it that many past performers have donated items to be displayed on shelves, so there is plenty to marvel at pre (and post) show.

 The audience was excitedly taking their seats, and the group of people next to me were especially eager to see the show. I find this excitement and enthusiasm always adds to the show atmosphere. With impeccable comedic timing, Lawson made a surprising entrance on stage and commenced the show with some comedy magic which the audience enjoyed. Lawson mentioned early in the show that his show isn’t a traditional magic show, and he is right – you’ll find no rabbits in top hats, stuffy tuxedos or cliche assistants here. Instead, Lawson uses well timed wit, some choice props and his (often cheeky) humour to enhance his modern takes on magic. You may be wondering what kinds of magic to expect in Lawson’s show….without giving too much away, Lawson does perform some fantastically entertaining card and rope magic, along with some predictions and finale which truly has to be seen to be believed! Vanish any thoughts you may have about such magic, as Lawson’s magic is so surprising that you just do not know what to expect while watching his show and I find that thrilling. Throughout the show, the audience had no idea what was going to happen next, which lead to many gasps of surprise and much applause!

An aspect I thoroughly enjoyed about this show is that it is very light hearted. Lawson clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously and that worked so well during his show – it brought extra laughs and enjoyment to the audience, it made the audience relax a little more and enhanced the entire show for everyone. I was impressed that all this was achieved without compromising or cheapening the magic, which remained exceptional. ‘Genuinely Impossible’ is a show where the comedy shines as much as the magic.

 Genuinely Impossible and Genuinely Entertaining, Lawson’s show had the audience laughing and clapping throughout as well as a very mystifying finale. What more could one want from a magic show? I enjoyed myself so much that in what seemed like no time the show was already over, leaving myself (and many other audience members I’m sure) wanting to see more.

  

VERDICT: I really can’t recommend this show enough, ‘Genuinely Impossible’ truly has something for everyone (though perhaps not suited to children!). Those who crave comedy with their magic will be satisfied and those who seek magic with modern twists will be surprised and delighted by ‘Genuinely Impossible’ – a show which lives up to its name.

DETAILS: The show is on at 8:30pm at The Butterfly Club and runs until Sunday, January 14th. Tickets and more information can be found at:
https://thebutterflyclub.com/show/genuinely-impossible

Greetings from 2018

Hello everyone, greetings from 2018 and I hope you have all been well! I hope the last few months of 2017 were pleasant for you all and that 2018 has commenced with happiness for each of you. You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been for the past few months….it is disappointing that I haven’t had a chance to write as regularly as I’d have liked to. In October I had a persistent sickness and had to take time off work, so I was housebound for a couple of weeks. November was my ‘work events’ month (when I generally don’t make very many blog posts) and December brought its usual festive season craziness with some extra social times with friends thrown in. I’ve also been called upon to devote some time to a friend’s project so despite being quiet on the blog, things have certainly been a little hectic lately.

What’s ahead?
I’ve recently seen a Shakespearean show at the The Pop Up Globe that is currently in Melbourne  – I’ll write about that soon, however even if you’re not usually a Shakespeare fan the shows there are fantastic so I do not hesitate to recommend a visit. For an even more thrilling experience, book a ‘groundling’ ticket where you do not get a seat but get to be directly in front of the stage and the action the entire time! You do end up standing for 3 hours, but my friends and I had the best time that night. The actors and show storyline were fantastic.

I’ve booked to see a magic show at The Butterfly Club in January called ‘Genuinely Impossible’ by magician Lawson Reeves, which I am excited to see. I’m thrilled to announce that in February I’ll be visiting Adelaide for a weekend to partake in their Fringe Festival. It will be my first time at Adelaide Fringe and I’m very excited to share lots of show reviews with you all upon my return. I plan to see many magic shows (and a couple of burlesque or variety shows) within that weekend towards the end of February.

Whatever this fresh year brings for you, I hope it brings you happiness, new opportunities and fun adventures. I’m looking forward to seeing some more fantastic live shows this year and writing about them for you.

As always, thanks for reading!