Danielle O’Malley has followed her sell-out 2017 season of ‘You’re My World – The Cilla Black Story’ with a powerful performance as Nancy Sinatra in this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival. The show is set during the filming of a TV special for Sinatra in 1972, and it’s the perfect setting for a cabaret. The format lends itself to a mix of performance and anecdotes – during ‘technical breaks’ O’Malley answers questions from the audience as Sinatra, giving depth to the character and opportunities for some light humour. But the highlight of a cabaret, of course, is the music, and what a highlight it is! O’Malley has an amazing voice, with power, control and range, and she does a fantastic job of bringing Nancy Sinatra to life through her music. I will admit to not being familiar with a lot of the music in the show, or not realising it had been sung by Sinatra. But I can give no higher praise to O’Malley than saying that I am now keen to collect some Nancy Sinatra music. The performance also made me vow to watch out for future performances by O’Malley, who is an absolute pleasure to listen to. I didn’t think I was familiar with her work, but after some research, I realised I was already a fan. O’Malley is also a member of Ginger & Tonic, one of my favourite Cabaret & Comedy Festival acts.
O’Malley was accompanied on stage by the Musical Director Mark Jones as her pianist ‘Maverick’, who also provided vocal support. Jones is also a fantastic performer, who I have enjoyed in a number of shows, and he complemented O’Malley well. She was also ably supported by Tristan Courtney on Bass, and James Davies on drums.
It wasn’t just the music that was of high quality for this show. The staging worked really well – the simple backdrop of black fabric with small coloured lights was effective, and the illusion of being part of a studio audience at a TV filming was completed with O’Malley’s convincing one-sided conversations with her director at the back of the room (and his alarm to signify ‘cut’ – or displeasure in her honesty!) and the ad breaks for RC Cola in between numbers. It was all very effective to draw the audience into the illusion. O’Malley was extremely consistent in her character as Nancy Sinatra – accent, mannerisms and dance style were all believable. The costumes were also very effective. O’Malley opened the show wearing a tan mini skirt and a floral shirt, tied at the waist. Other costumes included both plain white and patriotic flag themed mini dress’s. All of course with the ubiquitous knee-high boots!
Songs performed included ‘Gotta get out of this town’, Lightning’s Girl’, ‘Bang Bang’, and of course ‘These boots were made for walking’, among others.
‘Nancy Sinatra – You Only Live Twice’ was a fantastic night’s entertainment, I only wish it was longer! If you love 60’s music or just appreciate a really great voice, do yourself a favour and head to Chapel off Chapel and see this show.