Arts Centre Melbourne Presents The Unbelievables

A sizzling, sensational summer hit

 By Rebecca Waese 

Las Vegas thrills transformed Hamer Hall at Arts Centre Melbourne during the opening night of The Unbelievables with a terrific variety of gravity-defying acrobats, a sword-swallowing comedian, illusionists, singers, dancers, and circus talents. American producers, Simon Painter and Tim Lawson of The Illusionists, hand-picked top performers from around the world and the result is a sizzling, sensational summer hit.

The Unbelievables_Natural Woman- Emi Secrest and dancers_credit_JacquieManning-31

The show begins with transformationalist, Victoria Petrosyan who changes in and out of sixteen costumes designed by her husband Sos in 120 seconds, leaving the audience in a state of incredulousness and delight. Blademaster, Brett Loudermilk was a highlight; not only captivating in his ability to swallow metal swords and a few other surprises but as a charismatic comedian who connected with the crowd. The hand balancing acrobats, Alan Pagnota and Rafael Ferreira, a.k.a Dupla Mão na Roda, (look them up!) were favourites of mine as they defied gravity and social preconceptions about what a performer in a wheelchair might be able to do with strength, grace and unbelievable muscle control.

Outstanding vocals by Emi Secrest set the jazz-cabaret mood and the band served up sultry jazz and electric guitar interludes with stunning award-winning dancers.

The Card Illusionist, Shin Lim was a champion on Penn and Teller’s television series Fool Us and is currently the FISM World Champion for Close Up Magic. His artistry with cards was mesmerising and close camera work followed his sleight of hand as cards vanished into thin air and reappeared in puffs of smoke from his mouth.

Ukrainian sand artist, Julia Kurkina tied together fantasy and exoticism creating sand art pictures of exotic locales and of the very Arts Centre we were in. 

Ventriloquist Jay Johnson, a veteran in the game, took the gag to a new level with his rude monkey named Darwin and hard-to-please sidekick, Bob. Strong man, Artem Lyubanevych and aerial hoop acrobat, Aleksandra Kiedrowicz were riveting to watch and the Mexican speed juggler, Roberto Carlos got the loudest cheers of the night.

Comic host, Harrison Greenbaum held the show together and seemed to grow more confident over the night and better in tune with what the Australian audience found funny than in his opening patter. His humour was friendly for fans of all ages and he came out to mingle after the show with diva, Emi Secrest and they chatted with spectators, hopping into a photo or two.  

The Unbelievables is a polished, well-thought out show with fabulous talent and updated references on the classic variety formula. Treat yourself to some terrific summer fun for young and old.


Dates: 9 – 13 January

Venue: Hammer Hall, 100 St Kilda Rd, Southbank VIC 3006

Times: 3:00pm, 7:00pm

Prices: $30 – $120


Image by Jacquie Manning

Rebecca Waese is an Honorary Associate at La Trobe University in the Department of Creative Arts and English.