Cabaret, Fringe World, News, Reviews

Captivating from start to finish

Fringe World review: Holland St Productions, What Doesn’t Kill You [blah blah] Stronger ·
Downstairs at The Maj, 5 February ·
Review by Jenny Scott ·

What Doesn’t Kill You [blah blah] Stronger is a gloriously funny whirlwind of a cabaret, paying tribute to those who have suffered notable near-death experiences – such as Alexander Selkirk (who was marooned on an island of feral cats), Anne Hodges (the only known person to be hit by a meteorite), and Violet Jessup (the unfortunate stewardess who survived three shipwrecks).

Although most of these stories will sound familiar to anyone with a passing interest in weird historical anecdotes, the aggressively charismatic Erin Hutchinson and Tyler Jacob Jones transform these tales into a diverse assortment of hilarious musical numbers.

Joined by Joshua Haines on piano, who plays an original score by composer Robert Woods, this cast of three exceptionally skilled local performers is an absolute delight to watch on stage. Their ceaseless enthusiasm, faultless musical capabilities and charmingly weird jokes ensure that the show remains captivating from beginning to end.

Special mention goes to Jones’s two-hatted “trio” musical number – and where else can you hear WA performers use their classically trained voices to sing about faeces over a calypso beat?

What Doesn’t Kill You… was last seen at the 2018 Fringe World, where it won both the Martin Sims Award for the best new Western Australian work, and the The West Australian Arts Editor Award. It’s easy to see why.

What Does Kill You [blah blah] stronger plays Downstairs at the Maj until February 9.

Pictured top are Tyler Jacob Jones and Erin Hutchinson. Photo: Pia Fruin.

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Chocolate Blues
Cabaret, Calendar, Fringe World, Music, Performing arts

Cabaret: Chocolate Blues

5-9 February @ Downstairs at the Maj ·
Presented by Aces at the Maj ·

Chocolate smooth soulful blues man Jake Dennis serves you a decadent taste of the creamy romantic, cheeky, and sorrowful, rough ballsy blues. Deliciously warm classics by Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday and more. Grab a bourbon, enjoy Jake’s smokey roadside saloon. He “has a fine voice and vocal range.” – Australian Stage.

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Dolly Diamond
Cabaret, Calendar, Comedy, Fringe World, Performing arts

Cabaret: Dolly Di*mond’s Bl*nkety Bl*nks

12-16 February @ Downstairs at The Maj ·
Presented by Nicholas Clark Management Pty Ltd ·

Everyone’s favourite game show hostess, Dolly Diamond presents a Premiere season of the top-rating 70’s television cult hit classic Blankety Blanks to Fringeworld 2019 from 12 February.

Joining Dolly on stage each night are six famous faces – much-loved celebrities also affectionately known as Perthonalities – who will help audience contestants win fabulous prizes and answer the on-goingdilemma of ‘Did Dick?’.

It’s variety, comedy and old school entertainment at its best. Or certainly its funniest, with UK born cabaret icon Dolly Diamond completely in her element sharing lashings of her sharp-tongued wit and comedic genius. It’s a bit naughty, a little bit risqué and definitely filled with innuendo.

“I’m so excited to be coming back to Perth Fringe, so I’ve been gathering some of Perth’s most fabulous Perthonalities to join me for Dolly Di*mond’s Bl*nkety Bl*nks. It’s going to be a BLANKING hoot!” Dolly said.

★★★★★ “A Dolly-cious twist on a tried and true formula, this Diamond really sparkles.” Theatrepeople, 2017

“Dolly Diamond, an artiste with serious pipes (no lip-synching here, thank you very much) and a bottomless talent for banter” The Age

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A man reclining and blowing confetti
Cabaret, News, Performing arts, Reviews

As good as it gets

Review: John O’Hara accompanied by Andrew Kroenert, #Val: A Glitery Ode to Queer Men and their Mums ·
Downstairs at the Maj, 13 September ·
Review by David Zampatti ·

John O’Hara. What a guy!

Raised on the Canning Highway Avenue of the Stars (Dave Faulkner at the Manning end, Dave Warner at the Bicton end), O’Hara schooled at Melville Primary and John Curtin College of the Arts, studied at WAAPA and has gone on to star on stage (Cats, Rocky Horror, Wicked, Priscilla) and cabaret, all over the place.

He’s back home, in more ways than one, with #Val: A Glittery Ode to Queer Men and their Mums, the story of his growing up, his coming out and the songs that helped him do both.

Those who’ve seen him on the Maj’s basement stage before, in Dedications (2015) or last year’s A Very Merry Christmas (there were plenty of comebackers in the audience – always a good sign) would have known they were in for a fine time in the company of a dead snappy performer.

I think they’d have also known they were in for more than that – because O’Hara’s cabarets are rare commodity in that glittery world. They are about things.

A fair swag of the songs of #Val are, in a sense, predictable. Gaga’s “Born This Way”, Scissor Sisters’ “Let’s have a Kiki”, an all-time gay anthemfest (“I Will Survive”, “Raining Men”, “Vogue”, “Dance With Somebody”…), George Michael’s “Freedom”, even the Barbie theme song, “Get Your Sparkle On” (we did).

But it’s the songs we don’t expect, and the way he gets inside them that we’ve never heard before, that makes O’Hara such a compelling performer. Who’s gunna to do the little tearjerker “Baby of Mine” from Disney’s Dumbo, Cher’s gun-totin’ “Turn Back Time”, or, of all things, Farnsy’s “You’re the Voice”?

But he does, and owns them all big time.

And when everything he’s trying to do and say comes completely together (much credit due here to his accompanist – well they’re a duo, really, Andrew Kroenert), in heartbreaking, revelatory versions of TLC’s “Waterfalls” and Sia’s “Titanium”, it’s like you’ve never really known what they’re about until now.

That’s the strength, but also the one weakness, of #Val. The story of a gay boy growing up and into is skin, his relationships (with his fabulous mother, of course, his straight brother, his absent father) is funny, sweet and makes all the points it needs to.

The extrapolation into the history of the LGBTIQ struggle way back to the Stonewall Uprising and the death of Marsha P Jackson is understandable and legitimate, but it confuses O’Hara’s narrative and dangles him on the crumbly edge of polemic.

But what the hey. That’s just me. John O’Hara, “Australia’s John O’Hara”, gives as good an hour as you’ll get to spend on this side of the footlights.

Pictured top: John O’Hara.

This review first appeared on Turnstiles and is published here with kind permission from David Zampatti.

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Jazz, Music, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Celebrating in style

Review: WA Youth Jazz Orchestra, King Street Corner Pocket Jazz Festival ·
Various venues, 5-7 July ·
Review by Rosalind Appleby ·

The WA Youth Jazz Orchestra is turning 35 this year and last week they threw an enormous party to celebrate. Over three nights, Australia’s leading youth jazz orchestra turned Perth’s vintage King Street into a bustling festival with 38 jazz acts in four iconic locations. The King Street Corner Pocket Jazz Festival was an impressive showcase of the breadth of the local talent, many of whom trace their roots back to student days in the WAYJO ensembles.

On Thursday night the festival vibe was in full swing, audience members of all ages spilling from unlikely venues into the bracing winter night for refreshments from one of the many nearby bars before moving to the next show.

Upstairs at Kailis Jewellery, Sassafras kicked off the festival with toe-tapping gypsy jazz. The trio of Lachlan Gear and Aaron Deacon on acoustic guitars, led by the irrepressible Pete Jeavons on string bass, took us back to 1930’s Paris via Django Reinhardt’s fast strummed Feerie, with its picked melody line singing the blues almost rockabilly style. The set continued with standards like Miller’s Bernie’s Tune and Ellington’s Caravan incorporating influences from flamenco to bossa nova along the way. Despite their small acoustic make up, the three-piece provided a driving rhythm section, intricate solo work and sweetly lyrical melodies. It was a great pairing of venue and ensemble; the stylish upstairs room was crowded with an enthusiastic audience and no one wanted it to end.

The lure of Varnish’s boutique bar and hearty food took us back out into the street, and we were refuelled and ready for the big band swagger that hit us Downstairs at the Maj. The Monday Night Orchestra was one of WAYJO’s three big bands featured during the festival and as we arrived the horns were in full swing for Count Basie’s The Queen Bee. The young musicians are the cream of local jazz talent and sat tight under director Ricki Malet. The diverse set list included a sizzling Sunny Side of the Street, led by vocalist Annie Mitchell, and a fabulous rendition of Spring Can Really Hang You Up, featuring trombone soloist Holli Hatherley. WAYJO has intentionally made steps towards gender equity and it was great to see the band populated with female low brass players. To top it off the bracket ended with a piece by Australian composer Jenna Cave whose funk-influenced Jazz Euphoria on Frenchman Street tipped the scales slightly more towards gender parity in the diversity-challenged jazz world.

Alto saxophonist and composer Alana Macpherson is a product of WAYJO and studied composition with its artistic director Mace Francis. Her promise of original compositions performed by string quartet and vocalist Priscilla Gardiner attracted a large audience for the final session Downstairs at the Maj. Macpherson led from saxophone, backed by the close harmonies of the quartet and sweetened by Gardiner’s vocals. There were some haunting solos, with Gardiner’s musky vocals blending with the throaty alto sax to haunting effect. It was an impressive display of a young artist flexing her creative muscle at an already elite level.

Kudos to the very small team at WAYJO for this huge logistical achievement and fingers crossed this will be the first of many King Street jazz festivals.

This review was first published on Noted and appears on Seesaw with kind permission from Rosalind Appleby.

Pictured top is Sassafras. Photo: Rosalind Appleby.

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Pierre Ulric
Children, Features, Magic, News, Performing arts, Theatre

The scientist turned magician

Starting with love and ending in blood, Pierre Ulric’s ‘Confessions of a Magician’ isn’t your standard conjuring show. In his Fringe Session Q&A, he reveals more about the magical practices behind both his adult cabaret and children’s shows.

Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist?
Pierre Ulric: It’s been a nagging feeling for a very long time. I’ve always been into ‘art’ since I was a child, but having had a lot of different interests and pursuits, it has not always been the main focus. Following scientific studies and 15 years of industry work, only recently have I decided to go full time as a performer and creator. So one could say I took my time a little.

Pierre Ulric
Pierre Ulric. Photo: Lighthouse Photography

S: Did you do formal training, learn on-the-job, or a bit of both?
PU: I was self-taught through books, videos and meeting other magicians. Traditionally, magic has always had very arcane way of being taught and there are not many formalised systems, other than mentoring (which I never really had the opportunity to receive). Things are changing rapidly with social media though.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
PU: The art of making the impossible, possible… event if just for a moment. I like to call it ‘theatrical surrealism’, because really you are simply acting out things that cannot normally be real and trying to make it feel authentic.

S: Career highlight?
PU: My last few years of producing shows at Perth and Adelaide fringe festivals and performing to full houses.

S: What do you love most about what you do?
PU: The unbridled creative licence!

S: What has been your funniest career moment so far?
PU: Cutting myself on stage with some broken cutlery, bleeding profusely and having to finish the show with a handkerchief wrapped around my hand… no wait… that wasn’t funny.

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe World show!
PU: Well I am producing two shows at Fringe this year: A children’s sci-fi magic and science extravaganza entitled ‘A Fabulous Teleportation Experiment’ and an adult cabaret piece entitled ‘Confessions of A Magician’. That’s the one I want to tell you about some more.

I wanted to produce a show that was not your standard linear exhibition of magic ‘tricks’. Through a number of theatrical vignettes, I open the door on what it means to be a professional magician in this era, what there is to love about it, to hate about it and even uncover some of the real secrets of the art… by performing it.

Without going more into the plot, it is a show that starts with love, and ends in blood. It features deadpan comedy, visual and psychological pieces and (hopefully) generally very strong – and challenging – performance pieces.

S: This isn’t your first time at Fringe – what drew you back?
PU: After a few years of trials and leaning, I’m starting to get closer to what I want to achieve with these shows. Furthermore, with better ticket sales and larger rooms, it actually becomes a sustainable business model too. Oh – And also it’s just the best motivation to get working!

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
PU: Definitely a good slide! I love the sense of abandon…

Confessions of a Magician plays Downstairs at the Maj, February 13-17.

A Fabulous Teleportation Experiment plays The Palace Society at Elizabeth’s Palace, January 27 – February 17 and The Red Room at Creatures Next Door, February 24-25.

Pictured top is Pierre Ulric. Photo: Jack Hawkins Photography.

Pierre Ulric
Photo: Josh Boland Photography

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Dao of Dylan
Cabaret, Music, News, Performing arts

Dylan done medium rare

Smart and sassy, Monique diMattina and Rebecca Barnard have juggled music and motherhood to bring you comedy cabaret act Dao of Dylan. How did they do it? Seesaw found out…

“Most of what we know though we learnt getting our hearts broken and sticky taping them together again with Dylan lyrics, Billie Holiday tracks and triple cream brie.” – Rebecca Barnard & Monique diMattina

Seesaw: Did you do formal training, learn on-the-job, or a bit of both? 
Monique diMattina and Rebecca Barnard: We have each done about a million gigs. Monique has a fancy master of music degree and lived/studied in NYC with people like Bjork and Lou Reed. Rebecca was born into Aussie jazz royalty and had pop/rock stardom with her band Rebecca’s Empire. Most of what we know though we learnt getting our hearts broken and sticky taping them together again with Dylan lyrics, Billie Holiday tracks and triple cream brie.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
MdM & RB: They say Stravinsky demanded complete silence from his wife and four children at the dinner table – lest they interrupt any brilliant/creative thought process he might be spawning.

This isn’t really how we roll.

We are both mothers, and there is not a lot of unitasking in our work day. Lyrics/ideas are scribbled on the shopping list under ‘Toothpaste – Peppa Pig’, or dictated into the iPhone while ferrying kids from A to B. We put the Dao of Dylan show together exclusively during school hours, and each rehearsal averages five cups of builders’ tea. Strong, with milk. Snacks are (mostly) healthy and free flowing, as is the gossip/therapeutic sharing. We would normally play/sing/do actual work about 20 minutes per three hour call, and when we get down to it that shit flows like honey. This process works for us and we’ve never had any complaints from the neighbors.

We are musically very simpatico, both bringing a song writer’s sensibility to jazz/rock roots, and both able to make the other pee her pants laughing.

Dao of Dylan
Barnard & diMattina: “‘Dao of Dylan’ is a tongue in cheek idolization of the musical path of Bob Dylan.

S: Career highlight?
MdM & RB:  Touring the Dao of Dylan show of course! We have so much fun musically and personally, it almost makes all the JetStar hidden fees and charges worthwhile.

S: Career lowlight?
MdM & RB:  Jetstar hidden fees and charges.

S: Funniest career moment so far?
MdM & RB: Mon’s electric piano actually caught on fire on stage once. Funnier now…

S: What do you love most about what you do?
MdM & RB: Connecting with other music lovers around Australia and the world – there’s a lot of alienation and loneliness out there, but when we play a show and feel the love in the room, all of us connected by the power of a song – it’s magic.

S: Tell us about your 2018 Fringe show!
MdM & RB: It’s a two-woman show called Dao of Dylan – we both sing, Mon plays piano and ukulele and Rebecca plays guitar. The ‘Dao’ means the ‘Way’ – so it’s a tongue in cheek idolization of the musical path of Bob Dylan – done medium rare in a jazz/roots/blues/funk jus – alongside gags and tall tales about Dylan and us and life and the universe and everything.

S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl?
MdM & RB: Being offered the beautiful space we are playing – Downstairs at the Maj, with a majestic grand piano – grand pianos make our bums look small. Er.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to doing at Fringe?
MdM & RB: Having a holiday from the kids.

S: What is your favourite playground equipment?
MdM & RB: The answer my friend, is blowin in the wind 🙂

‘Dao of Dylan’ plays Ace’s Cabaret, Downstairs at the Maj, 13-17 February.

Top: Monique diMattina and Rebecca Barnard in ‘Dao of Dylan’.

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Cabaret, Calendar, February 18, Performing arts

Fringeworld: What Doesn’t Kill You [blah blah] Stronger

13 – 17 February @ Downstairs At The Maj •
Presented by Holland St Productions & Ace’s Cabaret •

A wickedly funny new cabaret featuring bizarre and extraordinary tales of survival from all over the world.

A river guide gets swallowed by a hippopotamus…and survives.

A British stewardess makes it through not one, not two, but three shipwrecks, including the maiden voyage of the ill-fated Titanic.

An Alabama housewife gets hit by a meteorite, and lives to tell the tale!

These true stories, and more, make up WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU [blah blah] STRONGER, a love letter to misfortune, and a tribute to those unlucky (or lucky?) souls who managed to escape it.

Featuring local performers Erin Hutchinson and Tyler Jacob Jones, with musician Joshua Haines playing a vibrant original score by composer Robert Woods, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU [blah blah] STRONGER is a unique, hilarious Fringe experience not to be missed.

Presented by Holland St Productions, the team behind Fringe favourites Dr Felicity Rickshaw’s Celebrity Sex Party (720 ABC Theatre Award – WA Winner), Point & Shoot (Martin Sims Award 2014, Artrage Theatre Award 2014, Sydney Fringe Musical Theatre & Cabaret Award 2014, Brighton Fringe Argus Archangel Award 2015) and Falling to the Top (Artrage Theatre Award 2013 – WA Winner), as well as newly created musical Summer Of Our Lives (Malcolm Robertson Foundation Award Winner – Black Swan Emerging Writers Group 2017).

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Calendar, February 18, Performing arts, Theatre

Fringe World: Confessions of a Magician

13-17 February/ 9:00 pm@ Downstairs at The Maj, 825 Hay St, Perth •
Presented by Pierre Ulric •


For a spellbinding way to wind down your day, head to ‘Downstairs at The Maj’ (at Perth’s iconic His Majesty’s Theatre) after dinner and join this award winning magician for some amazing entertainment in this brand new production.

Magicians have always been hiding secrets… It’s time for this one to confess. Why is he doing it, and what is there to tell?

International mystery performer Pierre Ulric is coming back to FRINGE WORLD 2018, sharing his deepest and most absurd revelations, in a candid and thought-provoking account.

He opens up about what it means to be a professional magician in this modern day era, what he loves about it, what he hates about it and even how some of it works. Can you keep a secret?

Get ready to have your mind blown…metaphorically speaking of course!
Gobsmacking magic, audience participation, psychological ploys, music, laughter and amazement are all part of the show. Some novel and original effects never before witnessed live will be showcased, while spectators learn more about the strange, and at time hilarious, world of magic and illusion.

Sold Out shows at Fringe World 2016 & 2017
“Pierre Ulric is a master at his craft” – ★★★★½ – The Australia Times
“One beautifully enigmatic extravaganza’’ – Beat Magazine Melbourne

Location: Downstairs at The Maj, 825 Hay St, Perth
Date & Time: Tues 13, Wed 14 Thurs 15, Fri 16 and Sat 17 Feb 2018 / 9:00 pm
Five Performances Only.
Time: 9.00pm
Duration: 50 minutes
Ticket prices: From $33
Bookings: / 6212 9292


Coming up soon on YouTube Channel:

A Perth-based Magician, Pierre Ulric migrated to Australia from his native Canadian province of Québec nineteen years ago. He has been involved in the craft for over 25 years and is recognised as an accomplished performer on the scene, having received several peer awards and nominations for his private work and festival shows.

He works from an understanding that magic is a powerful communication and expression medium and his love for mystery performance work has been embraced by delighted, unsuspecting audiences all around the world.

  • Strolling Magic Champion (Australian National Convention, WA, 2003)
  • Magician of the Year Award (West Australian Society of Magicians, 2003 and 2005)
  • 2014 ‘Best Of 600 Seconds’ (Fringe World double act)
  • 2015: Original Show Nominated for ‘Best of Cabaret’ (Fringe World double act)
  • 2015: Original Show Nominated for ‘Best of Cabaret’ (Fringe World double act)
  • 2017: Original Show Nominated for ‘Best Children’s Entertainment (Fringe World act)
  • 2016: Original Show SOLD OUT (Fringe World act)
  • 2017: Original Show SOLD OUT and ★★★★½, The Australia Times (Fringe World act)

‘The effects you witness are purely in your imagination, but I trust they bring forth emotions that are very real…’ Pierre Ulric

For more information, trailer clips and booking links, visit http://www.Mysteries.Global

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Cabaret, Calendar, November, Performing arts

Cabaret: Catherine Alcorn’s Cathartic

23 – 25 November @ Downstairs at The Maj ◆

CATHARTIC is Catherine’s next new hit! Adored by audiences for her portrayals as Bette Midler and Christine McVie, Catherine makes her anticipated return to Downstairs at The Maj with her voluptuous voice and killer wit in tow.

Nominated for BEST CABARET SHOW at the 2016 Sydney Theatre Critics Awards, CATHARTIC is Catherine’s chance to let it all out and invite you in to an evening of acute observations and overt oversharing.

Hailed by critics as “brilliantly playful” with “a wickedly inviting sense of humour” and “a voice to die for”, Catherine and her three piece band sizzle in this cabaret confessional using rearranged songs by everyone from Blondie to Beyonce to help tell the tales of her meteoric rise to where she is today; the middle.

Don’t miss your chance to spend an evening with one of Australia’s most loved entertainers.

Written by Catherine Alcorn, with a little help from Phil Scott. Arrangements by Catherine Alcorn, Jeremy Brennan, Glenn Moorhouse and Jamie Castrisos.

“While she oozes sex appeal, glamour and wickedly inviting sense of humour, Alcorn has, above all, a bloody amazing voice”– ADELAIDE NOW

“Brilliantly playful. CATHARTIC is first rate.” – Daily Review

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