For two exciting and dynamic weeks, Chapel off Chapel, a popular live theatre complex situated fifteen minutes south – east of the CBD, played host to the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. Now in its seventh season, this year’s line – up was particularly diverse and flavoursome.
Featuring some of the industry’s top exponents of the craft, acts included:
- Australia’s Boys Of Motown;
- Blue: The Songs Of Joni Mitchell;
- Cyrens: The Songs Of Cy Coleman;
- Ginger And Tonic: For Love Or Money;
- Put The Blame On Mame;
- Queen Of Broadway: The Ethel Merman Story; and
- You’re My World: The Cilla Black Story
A popular performer on the local and international entertainment circuits, Michael Dalton has a fabulous female alter ego named Dolly Diamond. Known for her quick and engaging wit, as well as a stunning array of cocktail and evening gowns, so far, 2017 has been a non – stop whirlwind for the energetic star.
A recent pair of shows, Dolly Diamond’s Bl*nkety Bl*nks and Dolly Diamond’s Piano Barre, were well – received hits with the general public and critics alike.
Minutes into kicking off her newest venture, The Lady Is A Tramp, Diamond mentioned that her first gig on Australian turf was at this very Prahran location. Which, is a striking way to come full circle, because she also happens to be the artistic director in charge of this year’s calendar.
With a running – time of sixty minutes, Diamond’s latest presentation is an accessible collection of naughty anecdotes, urban dictionary quotes and definitions, hilarious relationship tips, spontaneous audience interaction, and an especially eclectic set list of pop, rock and swing standards. Songs such as ‘Bootylicious’, ‘To All The Girls (Men) I’ve Loved Before’, ‘Organ Grinder’, ‘I’m A Woman – W.O.M.A.N’, and ‘I Am Woman – Hear Me Roar’ were all given her trademark, fun – soaked, flair.
Diamond was supported throughout by a strong three – piece band, Shannon Whitelock (on piano), Darren Steele (on bass) and Dave George (on drums), as well as two talented and delightful backing singers, Tash York and Justin Clausen. It should also be noted that York and Clausen were involved in a particularly brilliant segment, when, as part of their contractual agreement, they were obliged to read out and recap some of Dolly’s press raves and reviews from the festival. Only the likes of Diamond would include such diva antics, and actually get away with it!
Early birds for Saturday’s closing night were given a special pre – performance bonus as well. Ever the attentive party hostess, Diamond mingled with fans and guests, for a good hour beforehand in the venue’s foyer. Adding to the festival’s relaxed and inclusive atmosphere, this reviewer can’t think of a better ice breaker than that.
It was an inspired touch.
Prior to the Melbourne Cabaret Festival, The Lady Is A Tramp played Perth (for the Fringle World Festival) and Adelaide (for Adelaide Fringe). Thanks to the genius of its fresh and flexible format (songs lists for each of those seasons were different in each city), here’s hoping Diamond and her team consider a return season very soon.