So much to learn from Shazza

Last night, I hot-footed it over to South Melbourne with Fiona from Rushcrowds to see a crazy little show at the Butterfly Club. Shazza, The Bird from Broady had promised to teach us all there was to know about being a celebrity, in her latest show My Celeb Life. I thought it couldn’t hurt to get some tips on how to be all kinds of famous, and attended whole-heartedly and open-mindedly.

I’ve not been to the Butterfly Club before, and as such when we popped in for a drink before the show, I was both overwhelmed and completely delighted. The place is full. To the brim chockablock full. Full of stuff. The shelves are covered with trinkets, toys and statuettes and walls adorned with the most incredible collection of 70s portraits of big-eyed children, doe-eyed women and pictures of ships (yes, ships). The whole place was like a strange cross between the share-houses my friends and I lived in when we first hit the renters-circle, and my Nan’s front room, where ‘the good things’ were kept, her artificial flowers, the shell-art and the random mantel clocks and vases that were her pride and joy.

After a quick look around, we made our way into the showroom with a small crowd of eager punters. The theatrette was intimate (to say the least), with just enough room for the dozen or so rows of church pews and the tiny stage. The floors and pews creaked as we made our way in, and the front door rattled on its hinges as Shazza, big and bold and larger than life, barrelled into the room only moments after we’d all sat down.

Without much of a chance to catch her breath, or for us to catch ours, Shazza (Christie Cula-Reid) was up in our faces, declaring her (undeniable) hotness. And who could argue…the mullet, the leopard prints, and the red, red lippy created a Broady bird of the finest plumage.

In true Kath and Kim style, Shazza’s humour was both cringful and endearing. She was, of course, over the top, an obvious stereotype, but by the same token instantly recognisable and very likeable. Her story, the five steps to celebrity, hung together well, and was very, very funny. The crowd was roaring with laugher, stomping their feet and joining in with chants and songs.

Christie is a really talented chicky, and her cabaret-stylings of a great collection of classic 80s tracks (rewritten to highlight Shazza’s hotness) were enjoyable to listen to, and good for a giggle. Shazza can certainly hold a tune, and she can absolutely strut her stuff. She had all the moves.

Shazza is on stage at the Butterfly Club until Sunday, and Rushcrowds have some great ticket deals which you can check out here and here.

If you’re up for a slightly manic, very funny evening out, give it a go.

I’ve also got to say…check out the Butterfly Club, it’s amazing…Rushcrowds do lots of offers for their shows, and you can check out the club’s website here. A collector’s dream and a duster’s nightmare – it’s so worth a drop in for a drink and a look. I know for a fact I’ll be heading back the first chance I get for a cocktail and a rummage.

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A first with Faust

This opera thing looks like becoming a bit of a habit. I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing, and it certainly does seem to be a very cultured thing to do – I must becoming a bit more civilised in my old age. Further, there seems to be no shortage of performances in my neck of the woods, so I guess it’s all good.

Gounod’s Faust, by Melbourne Opera did seem to be a good first experience with a more traditional opera. You may remember that my first (and only other) opera experience was Victorian Opera’s How to Kill Your Husband – lots of fun, but I’d assume not exactly traditional. Faust on the other hand is a classic, a great traditional opera with a rich history of performance in Australia. This particular production was in fact performed to commemorate 150 years since the birth of Dame Nellie Melba, one of the greatest Marguerites of all time.

My good friend Roxy kindly made the arrangements for the evening, as part of her prolonged and delightful birthday celebrations. We began the evening with pleasant introductions to new friends and a quick drink and nibble at Collins Quarter, after which we eagerly made our way to the Athenaeum Theatre.

The storyline to Faust is dark, essentially involving a pact with the devil and compromised virtue. I’d imagine the opera could be interpreted very heavily. In this instance though, I wouldn’t say that the treatment was overly somber. In fact, in the earlier scenes it came across at times as quite operetta-like, most particularly when the chorus became involved. The stage was small, and full with costumed characters and colourful performances.

The second half of the show, scenes four and five became decidedly less frivolous, as the story moved away from romance and focused more squarely on corruption. It was a shame that there was a small technical issue, specifically, an organ malfunction (of all things) that took a little away from the intensity, but the actors picked the scene back up and regathered the audience quickly and without too much damage having been done. We all had a little giggle in the meantime.

Snuck a peak at the pit

The performances by David Rogers-Smith (Faust), Danielle Calder (Marguerite), Steven Gallop (Mephistopholes) and Phillip Calcagno (Valentin) were without exception impressive. I was particularly taken with Valentin (Calcagno) who, despite only making a couple of short appearances, came across as intensely passionate in his protection of his sister. His voice was spectacular. Mephistopholes (Gallop) was appropriately maniacal, his voice and his portrayal menacing, with just the right amount of charm to beguile. Margueritte (Calder) was endearing and her soprano quite superb (to my untrained ear at least).

Somewhat surprisingly, there were moments of humour in this opera, and it was entertaining throughout. Because I’m such a know-nothing about these things (at this stage anyway) I’m interested to see this production again, by another company, to see if it is always interpreted similarly or whether at times it is produced more dramatically by others.

Once again, a great night out (many thanks Roxy). If you’re interested, Faust is running until 26 June, and you can find details at Melbourne Opera’s website.

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Atop Mt. Ragged

I think I might make a habit out of this…

After work yesterday I wandered along to Fortyfive Downstairs, and proceeded down five (?) flights of stairs, a couple of floors underground to a most wonderful performance space. I was intent on discovering the answer to just what had happened atop Mt. Ragged, an answer sure to be buried within The Haunting of Daniel Gartell. Straightjacket Production, the play featured John Wood, Samuel Johnson and Marcella Russo. Reg Cribb’s play was skilfully directed by Lucy Freeman.

As usual, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the place or the performance but I can honestly say I was delighted by both. Fortyfive Downstairs is a not-for-profit organisation and in keeping with this, there is an immediate for the love of it feeling when you enter the space. A sneaky glass of red, enjoyed whilst listening to the actors warm up behind black curtains, was a great way to get out of work-mode and into a performing-arts headspace.

From the outset the piece is poetic, and as the title suggests, haunting. The dialogue throughout is fast-paced and well-considered, and John and Sam play opposite each other with just the right amount of intensity. Despite obvious differences between these two actors, the intimate interplay between Daniel Gartrell and Craig Castevich involves an impressive mirroring of each others’ characters. This was done with subtlety, adding a real depth and intrigue to the progress of the story. I’ve not see Marcella Russo perform before, but I was really drawn to her performance. She built a character that was both awkward and confident, shut-in but nonetheless wily.

Despite the intensity of this play, it’s obvious sorrow and frightening end, it is also really funny. All three stars have a quick, dry wit and this shows through in the cleverly humorous elements of the play.

At the end of the day, this play delivers a bit of a laugh, a touch of romance, stormy bush poetry and a whole lot of heartbreak.

It’s running until 12 June 2011 and you can get tickets from Fortyfive Downstairs. If you get in quick, Rushcrowds have a discount offer for tonight’s show, here.

Finally, if you’re up for a little giggle, here’s Samuel Johnson hamming it up a little (courtesy of Straightjacket Productions.)


Finally, finally (I almost forgot) make sure you watch the blog tomorrow for details of our June giveaway!

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