Since its inception in 2010, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival has grown from strength to strength. Today, it is the second – largest artistic event of its kind in the world.

It has to be said that their annual calendar, is a heady mix of established talent and emerging names. One of my biggest joys in reviewing this event, is seeing new entertainers making a name for themselves on the professional scene.

Matthew Hadgraft is one such rising star to watch.

By trade he is a creative consultant and a composer. This triple threat is also quite the aspiring comic. Hadgraft recently fronted his own show at both the Melbourne Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festivals.

Classy As All Of Youse was a high – concept musical act where a bloke from the wrong side of the tracks, charmed his way through song to become the toast of upper – class society. Hadgraft’s primary angle was to take blue – collar anthems, and re-configure them with a swinging vibe. Put simply, Classy As All Of Youse was a tongue – in – cheek take on My Fair Lady from a bogan male perspective.

Hadgraft’s latest show is the perfect showcase for his versatility and range.

With its sixty – minute running time, Peter Allen – Live In Inverted Commas, ran for two electrifying nights at Chapel Off Chapel’s Loft space.

Allen’s professional highs and personal lows are well – known.

The quintessential song and dance man, his career was captured in a documentary (The Boy From Oz), a two part mini – series (Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door), and of course, a large scale live musical (also called The Boy From Oz). The latter has starred the likes of Todd McKenney, Hugh Jackman, and next month, Rohan Browne (fronting a twentieth anniversary celebration for The Production Company).

In this instance, Hadgraft channels Allen’s trademark energy and enthusiasm, yet puts his own stamp on each song at the same time. Bursting with pride and passion, his love for the subject matter is clear. He gives this show his all.

Hadgraft’s extensive set list combines Allen’s greatest hits with some lesser known works. In no particular order, Hadgraft accompanied himself on piano and performed:

  • The More I See You;
  • Everything Old Is New Again;
  • Just Ask Me I’ve Been There;
  • Quiet Please, There’s A Lady On Stage;
  • Don’t Wish Too Hard;
  • I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love;
  • Not The Boy Next Door;
  • Tenterfield Saddler;
  • I Honestly Love You;
  • I Go To Rio;
  • Arthur’s Theme;
  • Don’t Cry Out Loud;
  • If You Were Wondering;
  • I Still Call Australia Home; and,
  • Once Before I Go.

He is also a natural story – teller, sharing fascinating snippets from Allen’s life between each piece. As expected with a show of this nature, there were several terrific opportunities for viewer participation.  One young man was brought up on stage to join Hadgraft in a dance – off, and later, audience members formed a conga line behind him during I Go To Rio.

pet

Despite its simple staging, Live In Inverted Commas has a strong attention to detail. Hadgraft dressed in Allen’s trademark white dinner suit, topped off by a festive flamingo – pattern shirt. (Further more, a pair of maracas were on standby, and in easy reach.)

Excellent sound and lighting support, allowed the experience to shift moods with seamless ease.

Much to my delight, the opening night audience showed their support with a well – deserved standing ovation. Like this reviewer, Live In Inverted Commas will leave fans and friends of Peter Allen with a smile on their collective faces.

Hadgraft’s show is an absolute winner. Here’s hoping another season is on the cards very soon.

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