Returning Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) performer Callum Straford is back with his boldly titled show “Callum Straford Nails Everything” Don’t be fooled by the title, Callum is NOT here to lead a Ted Talk on how to be the most perfect mistake free human ever…though he does share some hot travel safety tips and party success tips too. Those who have seen Callum perform previously will know that he is an entertaining, affable lad trying to ‘make it’ in the big bad world out there.
Callum is so friendly and treats his audience with such warmth that I’m going to continue referencing him as Callum through this review (even though I don’t personally know him). Callum includes musical numbers in his shows, and this show is no different – his musical talents and snappy on trend lyrics are a treat. “Callum Straford Nails Everything” includes some nostalgic content which was a highlight for me – whether it is the mundane requirements of P.E class or echoes of parties in the past, this show is easy to enjoy. Despite some lofty goals, Callum knows when it is time to ‘bring it in’ (so to speak) and leaves his audience with some valuable life mantras.
VERDICT: “Callum Straford Nails Everything” NAILS IT! It’s a show with witty moments, fun audience interactions and spry observations Enjoyable, energetic, and engaging- you can’t go wrong with Callum’s style of comedy or with this show.
Callum’s MICF 2023 show run has now concluded, however keep a lookout for any future shows that may be on the radar. Callum is one to watch!
*Disclaimer: I attended this performance as a guest of the performer.
In the super trendy inner city suburb of Prahran lies an equally trendy little theatre – The MC Showroom – tucked away yet ready for eager crowds, hosts ‘Stinking Hot Trash’.
Produced by independent production company ‘A Small, Strange Company’ – the brainchild of Isabelle Carney (“Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell”, ABC) and Bronte Locke (“Bad Behaviour”, Stan) – ‘Stinking Hot Trash’ stars Isabelle Carney and is an amusing dumpster dive (if you’ll excuse the pun!) into facets of her life…perhaps current life and definitely previous life! Throughout this somewhat fast paced sketch show, props and mixed media (video screen / video use) are used to add further context / enhance callbacks which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Isabelle Carney is not afraid to throw herself into her scenes and is dedicated to the characters she portrays, despite props that don’t always play along. Carney is unafraid to be vulnerable at times through the show content, which can be a rare trait in this PC / “woke” world. Without saying too much, my favourite scenes in this show centred around meetings and detectives – any scene with a meeting and or detective in it had me laughing doubly as much! I hesitate to get too descriptive at this point, as there’s a lot to like about this show and I don’t want to delve into spoilers.
Always witty and sometimes gritty, ‘Stinking Hot Trash‘ approaches topics through a modern lens / with plenty of modern references and clever metaphors along with some choice nostalgic moments. Akin to the annual hard rubbish, ‘Stinking Hot Trash‘ contains surprises and gems – you just need to know where to look and remember to try and notice EVERYTHING otherwise you may just miss out on a nugget of gold.
VERDICT: Unleash your inner trash panda and delight in ‘Stinking Hot Trash‘! A fun show full of amusing characters and clever scenes, tied together with some poignant metaphors. Shows like this don’t come around often – don’t miss it!
‘Stinking Hot Trash’ runs until April 8th (no show on Mondays) at The MC Showroom in Prahran. Tickets are available here.
*disclaimer: I attended this performance as a guest of the producer.
For those unaware, in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne lies a very magical hub / house of classes and activities run by True Fairies. Among the many fairy parties (and other magical creatures like mermaids and wizards) hosted on the weekends (and midweek for the smallest of fairies), True Fairies have captured the attention of many families in the area by offering classes / experiences in all kinds of fairy activities and other early learning activities. Think music, yoga, dance, nature play, craft time and even fairy tea (my inner child is totally jealous!) Most of these experiences are aimed at 2-5 year olds, however some (like the music class) accept up to 6 year olds / have a wider age range.
My toddler, A, turns 2 in June and we did experience a music for babies session at the same venue when she was under one. I know my little one enjoys music so for Term 1 this year I decided to enrol A into Miss Green’s music class, which runs on Wednesday and/or Friday mornings. Miss Green herself always takes time at the start of the class to greet each of her little students, often kneeling down to their level. She also ensures that her hair looks the same (and is a magnificent shade of green) so that all her little students will come to know her over time / so it is less confusing for them. Miss Green has a welcoming presence, a gentle personality and a calm, happy nature. Miss Green takes time to interact with the class, and comments on students’ activity levels. With quieter students, Miss Green often sends them shy smiles and thanks them for helping to pack away musical items. Each student is able to participate as much or as little as they want to during the class, and each departs the class with a smile and a special memento from Miss Green.
While A doesn’t exactly launch herself into the room each week, she has come to know why we visit that room (and Miss Green) and by the end of the class she’s often on her feet and smiling / looking relaxed and happy. With most of term 1 now finished, I’ll definitely be enrolling A for term 2 of Miss Green’s music class.
There are many things that A and I enjoy about this class, but the standout benefits / highlights are:
– there’s no pressure to participate! Little ones are encouraged to participate as little or as much as they feel. Musical items are handed out for little ones to enjoy, however there’s no pressure to stand and dance or do actions during a song. Often, A will sit in my lap and shake a shaker or occasionally move her tambourine. At other times, I’ll be madly shaking the tambourine for her.
– The class sizes are small and capped at 10 participants. Most weeks, there are an average of 8 children in the class (each accompanied by a caregiver of course) which is a perfect amount of people for the room the class is held in. It doesn’t feel crowded / like too many people are crammed in the one space.
– While A isn’t currently in daycare it’s a great outlet for her to interact with and see her peers. Many of the attendees appear to be between 1.5 and 4 years old in our class, though the average age of class attendees will vary per class. For children not in structured daycare, this class is a fantastic opportunity for children to interact with their peers and enjoy an activity together. Also gets caregivers out of the house too!
For those in daycare, this is a good outing to break up a day at home / an opportunity to hone in on an activity that daycare may not cover / may not have time for.
– It’s cost effective at $15 per class as a casual attendee or a term of 10 classes for $100. I’m sure everyone is currently feeling the pinch of the economy, between soaring interest rates and our dollar providing way less value at supermarkets (not to mention the current price of nappies and baby supplies!!) Prior to commencing this class, I researched other local music based offerings and many of the classes had an average cost at $20 to $25 per class with some requesting that caregivers purchase an instrument set to use in the class (or even a t-shirt / class outfit etc). So if you’d after a cost effective local activity in the East, then True Fairies have you covered. In fact, many of True Fairies’ toddler classes are priced around $15 per class / $150 a term which is great value for our family outing budget.
In addition to all of the above, the True Fairies’ house (Moonlight Manor) is set in the Wyreena Community Arts Centre, which also includes a playground and a cafe. Having a place for coffee nearby is a must for me, and A simply won’t let us leave the area after music class with a quick (or not so quick) visit to the playground.
For further information (and a full calendar of children’s class offerings) check out the True Fairies website. With term 2 commencing in late April (after Easter), if you’re thinking about a new activity for your little one next term now’s the time to start considering your options. I wouldn’t hesitate to book A in for next term’s music class (or any other class run by True Fairies that may take her interest in the coming years)
True Fairies also offer School Holiday activities for primary school aged children (aged 5 – 13 years), especially catering to those who’d love to be a wizard / witch and attend wizarding school! How exciting! Check out all the details here.
Hello readers, just wanted to open with a little thank you to those regular readers / those who pop by to read my posts and also a quick welcome to any new readers *waves* . From time to time here, you may see some slightly different content on this blog: – the occasional personal piece / observation or life update – some continued performer interviews (which appear to remain popular / are continually requested by producers and performers)
I’m excited to announce that in addition to the above, from time to time a “family focus” piece may appear here…that is, a review of a show or experience that may be toddler / child focused. Rest assured, the greater balance of reviews will still be skewed towards adult / 15+ shows with a keen eye on magic (of course!). If you don’t have special youngsters in your life (or can’t pass the relevant show review past a parent or caregiver) then feel free to breeze past those particular reviews. Around Melbourne Magic Festival time, I do have the opportunity to see more ‘family friendly’ shows, however this note specifically relates to child focused shows / experiences / classes happening outside of festivals. At this stage, I do not intend to create a separate review entity or blog for family focused content.
I also thought I’d take a moment to mention a current delay with reviews in March, which should be resolved by the end of the month! My attention this month has been taken up with some heavy family obligations within my wider family, plus a slew of ongoing dental work – yay!*
I thank everyone for their patience – both in terms of review posts and lags in correspondence times – and look forward to writing more for you all soon. Cheers, Tay.
*This point is only partially sarcastic: I have some truly wonderful dental professionals who help me take care of my teeth, and I have no fear of the dentist / generally enjoy my visits however I’ll admit that the most recent round of work I’ve had done has been especially painful (for both my mouth and hip pocket). *cue sad face*
In the typically bustling Docklands / District Docklands precinct on a sunny Sunday afternoon, a friend and I met up the top of an escalator outside a mysterious door marked only as ‘Hansel & Gretel’….now I’m sure you’re all familiar with the old fairytale of Hansel & Gretel and the witch within a candy house, well this experience made this fairytale concept REAL within a modern day metropolitan space. For beyond the big black doors, we said goodbye to the cheery weather and hello to the dark forest and the witch’s gingerbread house (note: house itself sadly not edible!)
The guides / hosts for your adventure that awaits are Hansel & Gretel themselves, and it was lovely to be welcomed into their ‘family’ and meet other ‘brothers and sisters’ (other friendly people on our table). This experience was billed as a cocktail experience with treats and escape room elements / riddles, and on most of these points the experience did not disappoint! We were given a fruity welcome drink and 2 other cocktails were also provided. I’m very pleased to report that these were full strength / full cup cocktails and not samples / watered down drinks. The cocktails were very enjoyable and my friend and I had fun guessing the components of each cocktail (this was not a mandatory task – we just did that for pure fun and curiosity).
Now to the ‘escape room’ elements of this experience – there were riddles to solve and some of them were challenging, however the setup of the event and the number of people (the room of people) undertaking the challenge at once made this portion rather chaotic, and it became obvious what the solutions were based on where people were gathered. I can’t complain too much as I’m sure my riddle solving becomes diminished after some drinks (haha!) but if this is a selling point for you then the experience falls a little short in this area. It also depends on how challenging you like your riddles / challenges to be – keeping in mind this experience can also be a family event at certain times of the day.
The treats portion of the event, well, the setup was like something out of Willy Wonka! It was great to delight in my inner child and go moderately wild and eat all kinds of sweets – we even had a doughnut each which was fresh and delicious. The only wish we had here is that they had given us cups / small bags to load our treats in. It was very easy for hands to become sticky and we were told not to be too greedy (so there were treats left for other groups) and I feel that attendees perhaps took less treats / were more strict on quantity due to that. It would have been much easier to police and enjoy if we each had a cup to fill. We were given time to wander around and ample time for photos, which we appreciated. The actors (and other guests) were happy to help with photos which was lovely too. Everyone at the (family friendly) session we went to were lovely, adding to the afternoon of treats we all shared. The family friendly nature of the event did not diminish the drinks on offer – it simply slightly altered the actors’ scripts.
Another highlight was the witty banter with the actors – many laughs were had, especially with the witch. As for the witch, be assured that in the family friendly version she won’t be out to haunt anyone’s dreams – I have seen scarier witch Halloween decorations – however I do hear she has a great recipe for cooking children….handy for an alternative to meat free Monday / to ease those food budget blues in the current economic landscape! 😉
VERDICT: It depends on what you’re seeking with this adventure…seekers of cocktails and treats will rejoice, as will those seeking a fun escape from the mundane. Those keen on riddles may be left wanting more of a challenge, though personally after a few drinks I’m certainly not up for particularly challenging riddles! It’s a fun twist on a old story and makes for a sweet escape or an afternoon treat.
On a gloomy evening, I ventured to the stately ‘Moonlight Manor’ (part of the Wyreena Community Arts Centre in Croydon) dressed in my Slytherin finery for an evening of “Magic and Alchemy”. Curious classes and interesting characters within a fun evening awaited all!
Upon arrival, the larger group of attendees were split into two smaller groups and let to separate classrooms. We then all met a very wise fairy queen and were led into Miss Mossy’s herbacious Herbology room. Miss Mossy is ever the gracious and knowledgeable host, offering us plenty of adult drinks (cocktails) with us (her students) learning some nature facts during our stay in her classroom. Miss Mossy had some fun games to play with her students and some other surprises which I very much enjoyed. I was genuinely sad when I had to leave her class – I would have happily spent all evening there.
After a brief pause, the groups switched rooms and we began our curious adventure into Divination class with Professor Weatherwax. This was hosted in the dimly lit potions room. We each sat at a desk with a cauldron in front of us, which felt very authentic! This portion of the evening featured different methods of divination, featuring tea leaves and other methods. Professor Weatherwax carefully explained that this sort of magic wasn’t stage magic or a showy presentation but the methods she was presenting were seriously conducted by people in the present day. This wasn’t said to dampen any spirits, rather, it was mentioned so that we could take extra care and thought as Divination is strongly open to both intuition and personal interpretation. Like in Herbology class, Professor Weatherwax also had a delicious cocktail to share with her students….which was heartily enjoyed by all.
I feel it’s important to mention here that the full enjoyment of this evening could be reached without being a Harry Potter fan. While the theming is reminiscent of Harry Potter themes / classrooms, out of the group / class I was in I was the only one dressed in Harry Potter house colours. No Harry Potter content was covered during the event, so no research or effort is required to attend an event like this one. Many of the attendees were with friends, however everyone was so welcoming that there are no issues if you attend an event like this alone. I attended alone and had a wonderful time meeting new people. I also loved the characters we meet during the evening. It really felt like I was a world away from my normal life as soon as I stepped into Moonlight Manor. The teachers felt very authentic and it was clear that they were enjoying the evening as much as we were.
VERDICT: If you’re looking for a fun cocktail evening with some magical twists, then I highly recommend “Magic and Alchemy”. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you’ll truly feel transported into another world. Performers and characters are fun and engaging, an easily enjoyable evening of magic and merriment.
“Magic and Alchemy” is just one of the public events run by Curious Events Co. Other public events run at the same venue include Paint and Sip evenings. Check out the website and socials for all the details.
Nestled within the heart of Melbourne is ultra kitsch (and very well known) performance venue / bar The Butterfly Club. Those who have been to this venue will be aware that it is like stepping into another world and another era – a perfect setting for the latest magical production from well known local magician Lachlan Wilde – “World of Wonders”. In a time where many of us are starved for a vacation *cough*me*cough* I was extremely excited to attend “World of Wonders” and have a pseudo escape from Melbourne for a while!
As soon as “World of Wonders” commenced, Lachlan spared no time transporting his audience to a new destination and wowing his audience at the same time with sleek magic that often happened in a split second. Lachlan’s storytelling is equally as captivating as his magic. Within his show, Lachlan takes the audience on a journey with him as he revisits some of his favourite destinations across the globe. Fascinating personal stories and astonishing magic accompany each destination that the audience “visits” with Lachlan. Audience volunteers were selected to assist in the magic throughout the show, many gasping in amazement as the magic unfolded up close. I liked the array of props used in this show – some of which were very surprising. I hesitate to reveal too much, however my personal favourite moment from the show had a strong historical context which I enjoyed greatly. Aside from the travel theme, other messages were mentioned like the nature of chaos and order, and also how magic transcends travel (magic will still manage to find you, even when you are away from home!)
Be assured that this show is NOT like the time your relative went to Europe and you had to sit through a Powerpoint presentation of 200 slides of images….nor is it a bragging session of Lachlan’s list of places he’s visited! You can’t help to get swept up in all of the moments in this show, and there are many moments that are set to wow and impress you. If you think you’ve seen it all in magic then think again!
VERDICT: Stow away your tray table and ensure your seat is in the upright position as “World of Wonders” magically takes you to some exciting destinations. Captivating storytelling and entrancing magic are on your itinerary for this impressive show. Don’t miss out on this wonderfully magical adventure – book your tickets now!
“World of Wonders” runs at The Butterfly Club (5 Carson Place, Melbourne) from Dec 5th – 10th at 8:30pm. Tickets and further information is available here
*Disclaimer: I attended this performance as a guest.
Melbourne comedic improv duo The Fry Kids (Holly Bohmer and Katie Currie) are back in 2022 to take audiences on a delightfully kooky spooky nostalgic romp with their show THE NIGHTLIGHT ZONE. In case you missed my interview with The Fry Kids, check that out in a separate post here.
THE NIGHTLIGHT ZONE started with a surprising setup which had the audience cackling. Over the course of 50 minutes, The Fry Kids portrayed a varied array of character capers ranging from the quirky to the ridiculous. If sci fi / horror isn’t your genre then don’t fret – much of the content featured parodies of other popular television genres / shows from crime to lifestyle shows. It’s easy to enjoy this lighthearted show, and the wide variety of content is sure to appeal to most tastes. Personal show highlights were an elaborate comedy setup that had call backs throughout the show plus the addition of the ‘special guests’ – many of which garnered the greatest laughs (from myself and the wider audience, many of whom were snorting with laughter). The Fry Kids’ dedication to their craft is impressive, with many costume changes, props and characters portrayed over the course of the show. While the costume changes were quick, the character portrayals remained true and didn’t blend into one another.
THE NIGHTLIGHT ZONE runs at a cracking pace, so do keep your eyes peeled in order to catch all the action, and ensure you don’t miss seeing some of the ‘special guests’ that The Fry Kids have in store for you!
VERDICT: a fun, lighthearted adventure with plenty of characters to meet and enjoy. An added bonus if you are interested in / enjoy improv. THE NIGHTLIGHT ZONE is delightfully kooky, a little spooky and is filled with laughs. While you may think of some of the characters post show, they will not haunt your dreams*
THE NIGHTLIGHT ZONE is running at 7pm on Oct 13th and 14th at The Improv Conspiracy (lvl 1, 19 Meyers Place, Melbourne). Don’t delay – book your tickets here.
Disclaimer: I attended this show as a guest of the producer.
2022 brings very exciting times for the Melbourne Fringe Festival as it celebrates 40 years! After a COVID related break, Melbourne Fringe is back and better than ever with a fantastic variety of shows to see.
Recently, I was lucky enough to sit down with hilarious and intriguing duo The Fry Kids (Holly Bohmer and Katie Currie) to have a chat and a laugh about their new 2022 show “THE NIGHTLIGHT ZONE”
Describe THE NIGHTLIGHT ZONE in three words: Grotty, Spooky, Characterganzaextravaganza
I see THE NIGHTLIGHT ZONE is a play on words of a popular sci fi / horror series. Are there any other series or movies from that genre that you take inspiration from? Holly: Oh god, so many Katie: yeah, and some from outside the genre too H: Staying in scifi/horror, I’d say Ozploitation flicks like Long Weekend and Razorback. Also things like Round the Twist and Children of the Damned— K: Hitchcock’s works, Mars Attacks, The Blob– H: However, I’d also say we took a lot of inspiration from 40s/50s cinema
Your duo is called The Fry Kids. Tell us more about this intriguing name and its origins! K: Do you know about the McDonald’s mascots? H: They had a whole range of characters, like Grimace, The Hamburglar, and Bertie, along with these weird puffballs with legs called the fry kids. K: We were a little obsessed with them growing up, and you could get a free VHS from McDonald’s with your happy meal. I collected all the tapes. H: Anyway, the fry kids are now defunct, and a lot of people don’t even remember them as characters. They just kinda…disappeared K: When Holly and I were thinking of a name for ourselves as a duo, we somehow came upon the subject of the McDonalds movies (specifically “Scared Silly”) and we both exclaimed THE FRY KIDS! It made us laugh, so we kept it.
Melbourne Fringe turns 40 this year, which is a great achievement and milestone – what are you most looking forward to during the Fringe? H: Seeing as many shows as I can! I love character comedy and sketch. K: I’m just excited to see live art again. I’ve missed going to shows, and the online fringe last year, though accessible, lacked a bit of the energy and vibrancy of preforming arts.
What movie or tv show scared you as a child, prompting you to leave your nightlight on? H: E.T the extra terrestrial! That tiny little alien was so terrifying to me. Imagine seeing that face staring at you through the window one night or those long twisted fingers stroking your cheek. Also, the way you could see his heart through his chest… haunting. My sister had a jigsaw puzzle of his face and my mum had to hide it under the house because I would cry if I saw it. K: I was an odd child because I didn’t get scared very easily. My older brother wasn’t allowed to watch certain things because he would have night terrors, meanwhile, 5yo me is sat up, watching Predator at 9pm and sleeping like a rock afterwards. Though there was one particular episode of Beyond Belief: Fact Or Fiction where a kid went missing in his closet, and I’ve never slept with my closet ajar since.
I’d have to say that this was one of the most entertaining interviews that I’ve had! So much nostalgia for me too, as I remember The Fry Kids (plus Mayor McCheese?!) and some of the other McDonalds characters plus E.T the Extra Terrestrial was also a popular film of my youth – though thankfully he doesn not occupy my subconscious!
THE NIGHTLIGHT ZONE is running at 7pm on Oct 9th, 13th and 14th at The Improv Conspiracy (lvl 1, 19 Meyers Place, Melbourne). Don’t delay – book your tickets here.
September brings Theatrical’s Victorian premiere of Freaky Friday: The Musical, with all the action happening at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran. I was lucky to attend opening night and I can’t wait to tell you all about the most wonderful time I had at this energetic and uplifting production!
For those not familiar with Freaky Friday it is based on the beloved 1972 novel by Mary Rodgers and the hit Disney films (including the 2003 film starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis – which is the one I recall!) Freaky Friday takes a modern spin on the original book, whereby a mother and daughter magically swap bodies for a day and experience a day in the life of each other. Naturally, chaos ensures – especially when each character hasn’t thought about the challenges and social conventions that each take part in over the course of their daily lives.
In the Theatrical production of Freaky Friday, Lyla Digrazia plays Ellie (the daughter) and Stephanie Powell plays Katherine (the mother). Both Lyla and Stephanie were amazing leads – everything from their dancing, staging and interactions with each other (and other characters in each other’s world) had me under their spell. Their vocal talents shone throughout the entire show, and the energetic musical numbers in general were a highlight of the show for me. It’s easy to enjoy (and be swept up in) this musical – so many of the musical numbers had many in the audience tapping their feet, or humming tunes after the show had finished. Combining this with clever set design and exciting choreography makes Freaky Friday simply unmissable.
Director Bronte Regos Thiele has staged this production in the present day, and this was demonstrated largely via the school scenes with Ellie (or featuring Katherine pretending to be Ellie). These reminded me so much of my own school days (especially the trials of gym class!) All the school cliques were there – the geeks, the popular girls, the sporty guys and the dependable friends. Now that I am a (new) mother, I can start to appreciate how much Katherine (the mother) does for her own family and how challenging it is to keep all the tasks going and her family on track. This fun musical approaches situations from both the mother and daughter point of view, from school grades / conduct, interactions with peers / people to impress right through to feelings regarding the death of Katherine’s husband / Ellie’s dad.
Theatrical’s production goes beyond its headline characters to create a vivid storyline that captivates. Adam the school crush (played by Thomas Martin) had some fantastic scenes, and I loved the whimsical nature of Ellie’s younger brother Fletcher (played by Nathaniel Calleja) who added a sprinkling of extra comedy to all his scenes. Not to mention Katherine’s very busy business assistant Torrey (played by Tach Sutton) who hurriedly tries to keep Katherine (and her business) from falling over. I simply loved all the characters and their portrayal in this production!
VERDICT: Freaky Friday is an upbeat, energetic musical featuring relatable content that is easy to enjoy. Come out to the theatre and enjoy this production by Theatrical – you won’t regret it!
Freaky Friday runs at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran until September 18th. Tickets are available here.
Disclaimer: I attended this production as a guest
Extra note: as if this show couldn’t be any more awesome, I wanted to mention that Theatrical is a not for profit and registered charity from Executive Producer Andrew Gyopar. It is an independent musical theatre company with a mission to provide opportunities for disadvantaged and underrepresented groups who might not otherwise have access to participate in musical theatre. Granting access to musical theatre and musical theatre experiences is a way to improve social bonds and mental health (both important topics in the current landscape we all live in).