What can be written about Robbie Williams, that hasn’t already been documented?
A former member of the popular boy band, Take That, he is also considered the United Kingdom’s most successful solo artist ever. That title is more than justified. To date, Williams has sold over seventy-five million records world-wide.
Williams’ numerous accolades include:
· ten studio albums reaching number one status on home turf;
· eighteen Brit Awards;
· eight Echo Awards; and
· three MTV European Music Awards.
In 2006, his Close Encounters Tour established a new Guinness World Record, selling 1.6 million concert tickets in a single day. International fame, though, has come with a significant price. Williams reportedly struggled with alcoholism and substance abuse, costing him several highly – publicised stints in rehab. Having managed these demons, however, he is currently playing his twelfth global tour, due to wrap up in March 2018.
Ross Chisari is a rising star on the Australian musical theatre scene. The recent WAAPA graduate has already featured in productions of Ghost and Aladdin, and will shortly join the national revival of The Rocky Horror Show, beginning early next year.
Chisari is also a huge fan of Williams’ musical gifts and public persona. So much, that he has taken the bull by the horns, both writing and fronting Let Me Entertain You: The Robbie Williams Story.
It is obvious from the get-go, Chisari is perfectly cast in this hour-long, total sensory experience. Exuding both magnetic and manic appeal, he clearly revels in the spotlight. Displaying expert confidence at all times, I completely forgot this was in fact a tribute piece.
Building instant rapport with viewers, the diminutive musician opened the show by reclining on the bar, microphone in hand, and wearing what could best be described as a black sequinned tail coat. Completing that costumed attention to detail, Chisari dressed in Williams’ trademark stovepipe jeans, high-top sneakers, and a white tank top.
Let Me Entertain You is not your standard, fast facts version of Williams personal life and professional career. Far from it. Fearless and unfiltered, for sixty heart – pumping minutes, Chisari smashed and reconfigured every known cabaret rule and regulation.
Much to the delighted audience, Chisari maintained Williams’ unpredictable, wild child persona from start to finish. Often breaking from the script and talking in the third person, he insulted his backing band, made out with a teenage groupie who crashed the stage, kissed both female and male volunteers, and dealt with the odd heckler or two by throwing food at them.
Chisari also brought stadium – sized fireworks to the relative intimacy of La Di Da’s performance space. In doing so, he practically devoured the nightclub’s stage and everyone in close proximity. His crazy, playful antics often left this viewer completely gob-smacked. I couldn’t get enough.
The hour-long set featured fifteen of Williams’ greatest and most familiar hits, including:
· Rock DJ;
· Back For Good;
· I Will Survive;
· Have You Met Miss Jones;
· I’ll Do Anything;
· Better Man;
· She’s The One;
· Angels; and
· Let Me Entertain You.
Two of Williams’ signature pieces, ‘Better Man’ and ‘Angels’, were performance standouts, and together, worth the price of admission.
Abruptly leaving the stage after his last song, Chisari quickly returned for a final encore. Made up to look like a cross between Heath Ledger’s Joker and Gene Simmons from KISS, he closed the show with a killer rendition of ‘Let Me Entertain You’.
It should be noted that Chisari was supported at all times by an expert four-piece band, comprising keyboards, drums and two guitars. A gigantic electronic grid display situated behind the musicians added to the hypnotic vibe.
Playing for one memorable night only, here’s hoping a return season is on the cards very soon.