Peter Allen Live “In Inverted Commas”

On a crisp Winter evening, a friend and I ventured to the South side of the city (across the river) to a lovely venue off bustling Chapel street. The venue is called “Chapel off Chapel” and is the hub for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival which is currently running. The foyer was filled with different groups of people waiting to see various shows – Peter Allen Live “In Inverted Commas” (henceforth referred to as Peter Allen Live) being one of them.

Prior to the performance, audience members were treated to some impromptu show tunes by some VCE performance students, which was a nice touch. It got everyone in the mood for a musical evening (and our collective trip to “Rio”).

Upon entering the theatre (with a clever ‘cabaret’ formation of seats for the audience), the stage was inhabited by a large black grand piano, with a set of sparkly maracas resting on the side. Performing as Peter Allen himself, Matthew Hadgraft bounded on stage in a striking white suit. From this moment I knew it would be an exciting trip for the audience down memory lane, but also a trip back in time to when Peter Allen was trying to ‘make it big’ in the entertainment world.

Hadgraft’s talent is unmissable in this show – as the audience can see he really is playing the piano, and singing with gusto at the same time – while doing Peter Allen’s story justice. Hadgraft is not static / frozen at the piano during this show either – many times he’d finish a song and move his arms in grandiose movements or show off some retro dance moves. Hadgraft clearly has a lot of respect and admiration for Peter Allen, as during regular breaks between songs he told the audience about the life and times of Peter Allen. From relationship breakups to travel and the celebrity scene, this show was a fascinating look at aspects of Peter Allen’s personal life as much as the songs the everyone knows best. On that note (haha!) those of you with established Peter Allen favourites will not be disappointed, as the show includes many of Peter Allen’s best hits along with a few perhaps ‘lesser known’ songs. All the songs chosen contribute to the rich tapestry of Peter Allen’s life, and all have a part to play during the show.

For those who are expecting the show to lack pizzazz or perhaps to be an evening of slow songs, you would be wrong! There were times where Hadgraft would select members of the audience to assist him on stage, often with hilarious results. As the show reached its crescendo towards the well known hits, members of the audience were clapping in time to songs, smiling and swaying to the music. The atmosphere in the theatre was fun and light. Testament to Hadgraft’s many talents and the joy felt by all, the show culminated in a standing ovation – a rarely seen occurrence in this society. My friend who attended the show with me knew very little about Peter Allen but he came away having a fun evening out, and even learned a thing or two!  We both left the theatre with smiles on our faces, discussing “our trip to Rio” and humming the most famous Peter Allen tunes – basking in a fun evening away from all the Winter gloom.

VERDICT: This show is of the trials and triumphs of Peter Allen, as told via story and song. Performed in a vibrant and masterful manner by cabaret star Matthew Hadgraft, Peter Allen Live is enjoyable, whether you’re a Peter Allen fan or not. A ‘solid bet’ for a show to see during the Melbourne Cabaret Festival


*Disclaimer: We attended this performance as guests of Faff and Sass productions

“Puffs” the play

Puffs (also know as ‘Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic’) is a play written by Matt Cox, and the production is currently in town at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda. Dressed in my full Slytherin house outfit, a friend and I joined the throng of assorted witches, wizards and muggles ready to watch the show. I was impressed that the Alex Theatre has gone ‘all out’ with their theming, with witty signs and decorations festooning the foyer and indeed the theatre which just ramped up my excitement. You see, being a fan of a certain franchise can be tough when the Northern Hemisphere gets the bounty of special events. We are so lucky to have Puffs in Melbourne – let me tell you why via my review below!

Let me start by mentioning I did have my reservations about this play: were they doing the franchise so dear to my heart justice? Had they done the requisite character research? Was it to be too focused on Hufflepuff house for my Slytherin tastes? I need not have worried about any of that as “Puffs” was suitably true to the books and entertaining for light readers right through to devotees. Indeed the audience may not have even needed to read all of the source material in order to enjoy the performance. A large spread of age ranges in the audience was testament to its broad appeal.

The story of “Puffs” centres around Wayne (from Craigieburn!) and the mixed (Bertie Botts eat your heart out!) bag of friends he makes along the way in Puffs house. Puffs house members are known for not being an assortment of adjectives (book smart; sneaky ; brave) but this play proves they are endearing, friendly, clever and entertaining. Each character had a ‘type’ (the ’emotional one’, the ‘sporty one’, the ‘good at maths one’, the ‘confused one’) which brought charm and an assortment of giggles along the storyline. The narrator of the play drove the progression of events along all seven books in a clever manner, with a ‘swish and a flick’ of comedic flair. The stage setup of an assortment of doors was also used in a variety of clever ways by the cast.

I was particularly impressed with how poignant Hufflepuff scenes from the books were translated on stage, and the inclusion of stage magic in others scenes (wands included!). There were an assortment of modern / muggle references and puns which gained some extra hearty laughs from the audience. At one point I had to muffle my laughing (that had turned to crying) with my Slytherin scarf. All the characters you know and love are referenced (including ‘the boy who lived’,’you-know-who’ and some favourite professors). A memorable scene was the description of how the heads of house decided on who would be accepted at the school, which was enhanced with the use of a variety of props. In fact, much of this show was prop heavy which suited the comedic nature of the show. Going into the play, I had no idea what to expect however be assured that this show will make you laugh (probably a handful of times!). Such was the amount of comedy and laughs, I was surprised that this show hadn’t visited the city during the comedy festival.

‘Puffs’ is a magical night out, which suits a large range of ages (do note that they offer matinees for younger witches and wizards). Those who have not read the books relating to the franchise need not be put off as there are laughs and references included with a wide appeal. The subject material is treated well and the cast is aware that much of their audience has an extensive working knowledge of the texts. This all means that the show is by no means a cheesy parody, it delivers on all aspects of content (time permitting of course) and respect for the source material.

VERDICT: Accio wand and broom and get ready for an express ride through the ‘Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic’,filled to the brim of a pointy hat with puns, hearty laughs and hilarious moments. It’s nice that members of Puffs finally have their time in the sun, and it’s true that this show is an enjoyable one-  no matter what house you’re in.

Tickets / information:

“Tequila Tease” at Little Blood

 On a wintry night in Fitzroy, I visited the well known ‘Kodiak Club’ however this time I went upstairs to their venue ‘Little Blood’. Little Blood is an inviting room with a bar at one end, a performance space at the other and plenty of places to sit (and eat or drink) in between. With a roof festooned with sparkly sombreros, Little Blood is a memorable bar with a slightly Mexican theme. Within Little Blood, Tequila Tease is a monthly burlesque show with plenty of guest acts and surprises.

Warmly welcomed into the busy space filled with audience members, I sat down and made some new friends while waiting for debut of Tequila Tease to begin. The next moment the MC for the evening – the debonaire Andrew Iles – bounded to one end of the room to announce the show. Iles was excitable, made clever drink references and ensured we were all ready for a wild night “south of the border” (as they say!).The evening was organised by duo Platinum Honey (performers Camilla Cream and Lord Lovat) and the audience was in for a treat as this very duo opened the show with a raunchy synchronised classic tease act on chairs. Platinum Honey made the audience pant for more – I could feel the audience members getting a bit hot under the collar when Platinum Honey is in town!

Miss Holly Wouldn’t was the next act to enchant the audience. It was as though history and glamour walked together when Holly Wouldn’t graced the room with her playful routine. I especially enjoyed her reactions to and interactions with audience members – everyone was delighted by her performance.

Lord Lovat returned to perform an exciting and raunchy boylesque routine in dangerously high heels. I could hear the audience cheering louder than ever during Lovat’s routine and I constantly wonder how he carries out such a physically demanding routine in towering heels! He is such a modern marvel! His moves rivalled that of a raunchy music video, and again I could feel the heat in the room rise during his act. If you’ve never had the pleasure of watching Lord Lovat perform then you really must, he really is one to watch!

The other half of Platinum Honey (the divine Camilla Cream) suddenly appeared in a puff of feathers and pastel fabric for her turn to sway the audience’s favour. Camilla seemed to float and looked ‘extra fancy’ –  as if out of an old movie. I’ve seen Camilla perform more than a handful of times, and one thing I admire is her use of props. It’s rare for her to have something on stage and not use it in a clever way. With this routine, swirls of fabric were transformed into burlesque fans and her use of her fluffy feather boa was alluring.

After interval, MC Andrew Iles reappeared to sing songs and show off his sweet dance moves. Andrew has such a light hearted and cheeky way with his audience, that you can’t help but smile along and follow his lead. I must admit that Camilla Cream and Lord Lovat of Platinum Honey put in an enormous amount of effort for this show. I’m sure it is enough of a challenge to perform a duo act and a separate routine each BUT each returned for the second half and each with another act! Talk about a sensational show – the audience couldn’t contain their delight. I won’t spoil too much here, but if you haven’t seen Camilla’s tribute to Big Bird (yes – that Big Bird) then I highly recommend that you do. As for Lord Lovat’s next routine, he had a slightly different (yet equally appealing) persona and proved he can twerk and do the splits with the best of them. Needless to say, Lovat drove the audience wild (as he often does).

Miss Holly Wouldn’t reappeared again in a 1920’s inspired outfit and routine. Oozing old world charm and giving many a coy glance to the audience, Miss Holly Wouldn’t was pure temptation. Star of the ‘slow reveal’ Miss Holly Wouldn’t succeeded in taking the audience on a journey to times past, igniting everyone’s imagination along the way.

I was excited to watch the headliner for the evening – Bella de Jac – as her name is well known yet I’ve never had the pleasure of witnessing her performances. Bella de Jac arrived in a beautiful dress and hat to much fanfare. Bella de Jac has a gorgeous smile and a playful way with her audience. Ever in charge, Bella is not afraid to deny the audience what they want if they don’t play along! Bella’s amazing routine featured a few surprises so it’s no wonder why she was the headliner of this fantastic show.

At the end of the show, I was reluctant to leave the lovely, warm, happy bar for the cold night outside. It was clear that the audience was having a terrific time – I could feel the warmth cheer in the room and I could see smiles everywhere I turned. My throat was hoarse from all the cheering I’d done. Tequila Tease is a monthly show and I feel so lucky that this show is here to take us all away from the chill and gloom of Winter (and beyond).

 The next show of Tequila Tease is at Little Blood on July 6th
More information can be found here:

Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of Platinum Honey.

Where has Tay Around Town been?!

Hello lovely readers, you may well have been wondering where I’ve been for the last month and a half…I did have good intentions (I promise!) to leave a little post pre busy season organising conferences, however time got the better of me.

I’m currently at the tail end of doing much of the admin for 3 conferences spread across 3 continents over 3 weeks! Which has been quite the grand undertaking, in addition to a cheery sinus infection I had for 2 weeks in May…which has meant that I took a month off from reviewing / seeing shows and became a slight hermit while Winter was ever approaching!

The GOOD news is that I’m back seeing shows again and have seen some slightly unusual shows lately which I can’t wait to write to you all about so I hope you stick around and keep visiting.

Thanks for your support, everyone!