The cabaret double bill of ‘I Sing Songs’ and ‘Livvy and Pete’ showcases the stunning vocals of Steven Kreamer, Amelia Ryan, and Michael Griffiths. It presents two lively performances in a low-key setting that will be enjoyed by fans of musical theatre and the songs of Olivia Newton John and Peter Allen.
Steven Kreamer opens ‘I sing songs’ on the piano, with a topical original piece that invites the audience into a playful, down to earth, and slightly irreverent space. Through framing his musical performance as ultimately fickle and futile, this song frames the cabaret and the performer as smart and self-aware. From this point the audience is taken through a meandering, comedic collection of covers and original material. Kreamer’s often impressive vocals and adept piano skills pair with a cheeky sense of humour and playful content. However, the reliance on single gag numbers and one liners creates an often flat experience. The piece could benefit from allowing the humour to build and develop throughout the material. Furthermore, the humour in at least one piece is disappointingly sexist, something not excused by the fact that the writer/performer is a gay man.
The piece is at its strongest when songs pair clever interpretation of popular concepts with elements of personal narrative. While Kreamer at times apologises for talking too much, the linking material is important in maintaining audience investment in the performance and could benefit from utilising moments of pathos by drawing on sexuality, heartbreak and grief which are evoked but not explored.
Steven Kraemer, a self-professed dork, has an endearing, elf-like performance quality, complemented by a strong musical theatre voice. His charming, light hearted engagement with the material and the audience establishes a warm and spirited space. However, what is lacking from ‘I sing songs’ is a sense of cohesion or thematic through line. Revisiting this and tightening the humour of the piece would enhance an otherwise enjoyable cabaret experience.
‘Livvy and Pete’ showcases the seasoned cabaret skills of Michael Griffiths and Amelia Ryan, with Griffiths in particular commanding the stage with a comfort that puts the audience at ease. The piece weaves together the lives of the two performers with the lives and music of Olivia Newton John and Peter Allen. Seemingly disparate elements are brought together with an intuitive logic that connects to the human elements of loving, writing, and performing music.
Ryan and Griffiths have an engaging chemistry on stage, bouncing off each other with humour, ease and obvious affection. The haphazard, ‘unrehearsed’ quality that characterises their interactions is to the show’s credit and lends a compelling playfulness to the performance. However, this shambolic performance style at times tips over into moments of obvious artifice, which are cringe worthy and difficult to watch.
Props and costumes visually enhance the show in a way that is sexy, classy, and fun. The simplicity, colour co-ordination, and attention to detail is aesthetically pleasing and satisfyingly nostalgic.
Both pieces utilise audience participation ways that are often effective, but sometimes uncomfortable. The loose, sing-along energy is a joy, especially in the case of ‘Livvy and Pete’ where fans of the classic numbers such as ‘Let’s Get Physical’ and ‘Rio’ are given licence to join in at any point. However, in other moments I am reminded of the importance of choosing one’s participants carefully and engaging with the actual individuals rather than imposing material onto them.
Overall the double bill combo of quirky musical theatre inspired piano man and camp cabaret meets tribute show is fun, enjoyable, and a pleasure to watch.