Tag: Chris Ryan

Melbourne Fringe 2016: ANDRE TONIGHT!

Spectacularly funny surprise hit

By Myron My

It’s unfortunate when you attend a show only to be told that the show has to be cancelled because the band has called in sick, but that is what happens with Melbourne Fringe Festival’s Andre Tonight! – or so we are led to believe. However, an audience member drunkenly volunteers her services and once she plays some music for our host, Andre DiVenuto, he decides the show must go on – and so it does.

Andre Tonight.jpg

Created by Chris Ryan and Mark Winter and performed by music theatre star Ryan, Andre Tonight! is an hour of laughs that just don’t seem to end. Ryan encapsulates the late-night variety show, and the European 20-something from Epping (my hometown) perfectly. I’m not sure where Ryan grew up, but he has certainly done his homework as the language, mannerism and style – including the hideous comb-over – scream Epping.

But Ryan is not simply mocking this northern suburbs boy (or the suburbs in general), as he brings much depth to the wannabe celebrity, at one point having the character almost breaking down for disobeying his parents and choosing to follow his own dreams instead. Similarly, audience member/band member Meg has her own issues to deal with popping anxiety pills like they were tic-tacs and getting incessant phone calls from her ex-partner. Despite the antagonistic behaviour towards each other, there is an immediate bond between the two characters, and it is highly entertaining to see it play out over the course of the show.

There is also an added bonus for this show, with the creators managing to get a surprise guest to appear. While it’s best to not know in advance who this person is, it is a pretty remarkable coup that Ryan has orchestrated, resulting in many pleasantly surprised faces in the audience.

It would be fair to say that Andre Tonight! has become the sleeper hit of this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival – and deservedly so. Ryan has created something quite special with Andre DiVenuto, and if the feedback from this show is anything to go by, there is a good chance Andre will actually achieve his dream of hosting his own chat show on Foxtel very soon.

Venue: Fringe Hub – Arts House, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, 3051

Season: until 1 October | Tues – Sat 10.15pm, Sun 9.15pm

Length: 60 minutes

Tickets: $20 Full | $18 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival


Blithely bewitching cabaret

By Amy Planner

Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid is a quirky take on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale that looks into the modern gal’s plight for romance. This cabaret performance is a quest for love explored through music, a journey that discovers the two are sometimes unescapably intertwined and a tale that proves sometimes you’ll find it where you least expect it.

Meow Meow's Little Mermaid.jpg


With a little burlesque, a smidge o’ circus, a touch of mermaid-esque audience participation and a whole lot of cabaret, Meow Meow has created a truly original show based on an age-old tale.

Meow Meow is a real performer’s performer. She has a voice that would silence a riot and a performance capability that would have the rebels all in a conga line in no time. Comedy Director Cal McCrystal did a fantastic job keeping the hilarity rolling, and when paired with Meow Meow’s innate sense of farce, it was utterly entertaining.

Meow’s on stage lover, Chris Ryan, enters the show quite late but has the desired effect. He has an important charisma and deserves major kudos for singing wonderfully in German, not to mention pulling off some outrageous costume moments. Ryan had a subtle presence, but perhaps that was just in comparison to Meow Meow’s tremendous allure and sparkle that we know and love.

The flow of the cabaret style show was a little unsteady in parts: Meow Meow seemed to become so wrapped up in the audience’s favourable reception that there was a little rockiness created. However, it was barely a blip on the cabaret radar as the audience awaited the next unpredictably delightful moment.

The costuming by Anna Cordingley is unique and impressively well-fitted in Meow Meow’s case. She sparkled as she crowd-surfed over the unsuspecting audience, hung from the ceiling, wriggled and writhed in a net that swung over the stage, and hobbled around in a high heel and in a ballet toe point as her ‘land legs’ grew.

Meow Meow’s Little Mermaid is certainly not for the faint of heart, unless of course your heart is faint but in desperate need of a lesson on love and a night of superbly witty entertainment.

Venue: Merlyn Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Season: 28 Jan – 14 Feb
Tickets: Adult $65, Senior $60, Concession $50, Student & Under 30s $35
Bookings: malthousetheatre.com.au

Image by Pia Johnston

REVIEW: Live on Stage in Melbourne – KING KONG

You’ve never seen anything like this…

By Kim Edwards

Bold, breath-taking – and BIG.

King Kong

King Kong Live on Stage is a wildly ambitious and theatrically daring production that crashes through musical conventions and scales special-effects heights, but has not yet escaped being a rather lumbering and cumbersome beast of a show. However, this production is still in its infancy and therefore evolving, and meanwhile the world premiere now showing at the Regent already has theatre-goers thrilling, puzzling, and debating its merits furiously.

The famous (and admittedly thin storyline) has been reimagined for the stage in an extraordinary and contrary way. The songs are the collected efforts of contemporary artists such as Sarah McLachlan and 3D from Massive Attack: at its most successful, the music forms an exciting and unusual soundtrack that is a distinct relief after the formulaic and expositional offerings of some other musicals. At other times however, songs are jarring and uneven with their musical anachronisms and bland lyrics. The set and backdrop are primarily a dynamic blur of lighting and video effects: at its best in the scenes emulating grainy film footage, the impact is utterly spectacular, from the dance of the Skull Island locals and the moonrise lullaby, to the final battle atop the Empire State building. At its worse however, the lingering impression is of Atari video games, and b-grade music videos.

Esther Hannaford as heroine Ann Darrow is an impressively feisty and funny leading lady, and visually and vocally beautiful. The film director and plot catalyst Denham (Adam Lyon) is full of pizzazz, but has not quite settled into character or singing style securely yet. Chris Ryan is pleasant as love-interest Jack Driscoll, while Queenie Van de Zandt sings the hell out of the incomprehensible role of Cassandra.

But then there is Harley Durst, Danny Miller and Jacob Williams, and Lincoln Barros, James Brown, Adam David, Josh Feldschuh, Brett Franzi, Nathan Jones, Nathan Kell, Pussell Leonard, Brent Osborne, Troy Phillips, Mike Snow, Maxwell Trengrove and Tayo Wilson. Their collaborative emoting, movement and acting was inexpressibly moving and mesmerising – from their first moment on stage, the audience involuntarily drew breath, and they commanded our rapt attention and unstinting admiration until the very end. No – they are not the (excellent) ensemble in this production. These gentleman are the puppeteers that give life to Kong, and they and he are the unequivocal stars of the show.

King Kong Live on Stage provides just that: the sense of real awe and amazement at  what we see when it comes to the breathing, bellowing believability of Kong himself is worth every cent of the ticket price. He and his creators are a united marvel, and it is simply a bonus that the blockbuster musical is also being unleashed from its primal predictable bonds here, and let loose afresh (albeit still chaotically) into the theatre world.

Go for this – King Kong is wonder-full.