Since 1993, The Butterfly Club has been one of Melbourne’s leading, full – time performance spaces.
For almost twenty – five years, the venue has staged more than one thousand new shows, hosting everything from stand-up comedy and game shows to improvised farce. It has also jump – started the careers of Tim Minchin and Eddie Perfect, Britni Leslie, Andrew Strano and Loclan Mackenzie-Spencer, and recently featured established stars such as Amanda Harrison and Jemma Rix.
This intimate space works best as a showcase for cabaret, because artists and audience members may connect as one. The biggest challenge for any performer is, away from the pyrotechnics associated with large – scale musicals as back – up, if they can step up to the plate alone.
One such talent unfazed by this prospect is Kurt Phelan. Born and bred in Queensland’s Far North, in spite of a community with little in the way of theatre, the bug still bit him early. By the time he was eighteen, Phelan was already working for professional tours such as Singing In The Rain (starring Todd McKenney).
Phelan Groovy is 65 minutes of high energy, goofy tongue – in – cheek humour, moments of reflection, sing – a – longs and celebrity dish. With the tag – line, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”, his show is immediately accessible to theatre – loving folk ready to be entertained. Confident and cheeky with charm to spare, Phelan is an original. He interacts with his audience during and between songs, and playfully spars with his talented accompanist, Jack Earle.
The structure of the show is deceptively formulaic for cabaret, the template being that songs are often chosen to drive the autobiographical narrative. However, Phelan turns this idea on its head, giving familiar standards new and unexpected lyrics, meanwhile supporting them with a hilarious array of character voices to rival Jim Carrey or Forbidden Broadway’s Christina Bianco.
No doubt about it, this man knows how to sell a tune. Seeing Phelan work the room in person, it comes as no surprise why he was chosen to play the sexy lead in Dirty Dancing. (Auditioning on a whim with a mate, it should be noted that Johnny Castle was played in the cult 1987 film by the late Patrick Swayze.)
Some of Phelan Groovy’s musical and anecdotal highlights include:
· A biting rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream”, with Phelan detailing his horror of how the film almost destroyed his love of the live show;
· Meeting the lyricist / composer, Jason Robert Brown, and why sometimes interacting with your idol may not be as you quite imagined;
· Funky variations on hits such as “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, “Burn For You”, “Dream A Little Dream” and “I Will Survive”;
· A new take on Lorde’s “Royals” with political overtones that should bring the house down.
If you’re in the mood for a whacky hour of fun, laughter, and Phelan’s rock – star vibe to boot, Phelan Groovy is the right show for you.