Michael Dalton, Rachel Dunham and Luke Gallagher recently joined forces to star in The Three of Us. Their polished and exciting new show was one of the highlights from the 2014 Melbourne Cabaret Festival calendar.

Each is a veteran artist in his or her own right on the Australian musical theatre and club circuit. Together, their bubbly chemistry playing off one another was clear from the outset.

With that observation in mind, The Three of Us was promoted as a cabaret showdown. Meaning, the act’s tongue – in – cheek premise was to determine which diva or divo would ultimately earn top billing.

Some of the good – natured challenges spanned from debating to dancing, and a potential Miss Universe swimsuit competition. Who would ultimately take home the prized bouquet as biggest triple threat?

For 90 dynamic and fun – filled minutes, this was a tightly crafted vehicle that showcased the powerhouse trio at their individual and collective best. Left in the capable hands of two musical chiefs, Cameron Thomas and Shanon Whitelock, the pair of directors provided the show’s flowing momentum and sharp focus.

Right off the top, 45 Downstairs established a mood reminiscent of an exclusive Manhattan nightclub and a Viva Las Vegas showroom combined. Supported by a smooth four – piece band placed directly in front of a red curtained backdrop, the venue’s smart staging exuded a hip Rat Pack meets Mad Men vibe.

A considered set list included a dozen jazz, swing and pop standards; in some instances lyrics were humorously rewritten to suit the occasion.

The Three of Us featured classics by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Jerome Kern to more current artists such as Marvin Hamlisch, Destiny’s Child, Madonna and Whitney Houston.

Whether singing as a harmonising threesome, in pairs or alone, Dalton, Dunham and Gallagher drew upon hits restyled not only to suit a variety of tastes but their own musical strengths as well.

Gallagher’s diverse curriculum vitae spans from Barbra: Soft As An Easy Chair, Naughty Little Show Tunes, to The Gospel According To Luke, his most autobiographical show. A solo turn early in The Three of Us showed an artist who can switch from broad comedy to thoughtful self – reflection in a heartbeat.

Dunham is best known for Rock of Ages, and particularly Oprafication, a one – woman musical tribute to the American media giant, Oprah Winfrey. Her version of Whitney Houston’s ‘Saving All My Love For You’ was also a stand out.

Dalton (with shows such as The Rocky Horror Show, The Late Show with Dolly Diamond, and You’ve Got Male under his belt) briefly broke the fourth wall and had some spontaneous fun with the audience. It was fun to watch him play with viewers and think on his feet at the same time.

As a trio, Dalton, Dunham, and Gallagher covered nostalgic hits such as ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story, ‘What A Swell Party’ from High Society, ‘I Hope I Get It’ from A Chorus Line, ‘I Won’t Dance’ from Roberta, and ‘Abba Dabba Honeymoon’ from Two Weeks With Love.

Madonna’s ‘Express Yourself’ and ‘I’m a Survivor’ by Destiny’s Child (which was used to play up the apparent rivalry between all three) were some of the more contemporary tunes featured.

For the most part, Dalton, Dunham, and Gallagher put aside the characterisations for which they are known best. This was a bold move, but one that reinforced their range as performing artists.