Tag: Karin Muiznieks

The Butterfly Club Presents SUBURBAN GOTHIC

Fearsomely funny and frighteningly familiar…

By Myron My

Cabaret doesn’t get more macabre and twisted than in Suburban Gothic. There is definitely “some spooky shit going down” in the show, but what makes it even more unnerving is that it is all apparently taking place just down the road from where you live – or even closer to home… 


What initially seem like charming and innocuous cabaret songs soon turn grim and morbid at the masterful musical hands of writers Karlis Zaid, Mark Jones and Karin Muiznieks. The songs and a torrid trio of stories cleverly expose the dark underbelly of the suburbs in wry and witty ways, with no topic taboo. 

Thus, a happy inner-city-dwelling couple head off to a friend’s house in Caroline Springs only to become frustrated and panicked upon getting lost in the ‘burbs, a “proud” father-of-the-bride gives a heartfelt wedding speech to his daughter and her “terrorist” husband Miguel, and two strangers at a park battle it out as to who is the prouder parent. 

Performers Aurora Kurth, Zaid, and Jones all have strong commanding voices on stage, well-crafted characterisation, and Kurth and Zaid’s duets are especially impressive. Jones accompanies these original songs on piano with his usual aplomb, and the numbers create an intended atmosphere of apprehension and uncertainty when arrangements of mostly upbeat “happy” music contrast unsettlingly with the grim and satisfyingly satirical tone of the lyrics.

Meanwhile, the settings of each song and scene are successfully constructed with minimal set pieces and a few quick wardrobe changes, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the performance. This is all supported by Steven Gates’ simple but meaningful direction of the cast, and the neat and discrete lighting effects. 

It’s a complex mixture of feelings when Suburban Gothic ends. It’s a highly entertaining and ruthlessly funny and clever show, it’s also quite relentless in digging deeper and deeper into the things we usually would rather not think about or want to be confronted with. When the nervous laughter has subsided, we can of course take comfort, however, in knowing that it was just a show and these sorts of things don’t happen here. After all, as the trio say on stage, it’s all mostly satire. Mostly. 

Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Season: Until 29 January | Fri – Sun 8:30pm
Tickets: $32 Full | $28 Conc
Bookings: The Butterfly Club

Review: AUSTRALIAN HORROR STORY by Dirty Thieving Gypsies

Murder, music, mayhem and the macabre…

By Myron My

My initiation into the Melbourne Cabaret Festival began with Australian Horror Story: a dark musical journey starring Karin Muiznieks and Karlis Zaid as they trawl the backwaters of suburbia and equally horrify and amuse us through song and characterisation.

From the opening scene as three hooded and candlelit figures enter the stage, there is a dark and eerie ambiance in the room. The idea of blood and hell will invariably enter your mind with the minimal props being used being black or red.

This performance takes the banalities of sub-urbanity and turns it into something sinister – “Why do people with similar lives to us commit terrible crimes and acts of transgression?” Zaid asks.

From Jihads in Melton, parents competing to have the “better” child and a “relaxing” drive to Caroline Springs, we are introduced to strongly-defined characters created by Muiznieks and Zaid. There is great camaraderie between the two of them and the play off and against each other is a joy to watch.

Being a cabaret show, the music is an integral part of the production and it did not disappoint, with soft and happy tunes swiftly changing to dark and somber ones. The lighting was synced with the music for the most part, however there were times that the lighting prevented me from seeing the performers and while I understand it was to set the mood I found it more of an annoyance than anything else.

Hipster Killer ran the risk of stopping the melodic flow of the show as it was more of a poetry reading than song but judging from the applause, this was a crowd-favourite – including mine. And as soon as it was over, we returned to a song to bring us back to the macabre.

The real chilling horror of the show is the impression that this is all happening right now. Australian Horror Story speculates there is a man in a suburb somewhere putting on gloves and getting ready to murder someone, and it is this enduring thought that left me questioning how much I should be laughing. There definitely is some spooky shit going down in our home towns but thanks to this show, we can laugh about it a lot… nervously.

Australian Horror Story was performed on the 17th – 18th July, 8:30pm at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2012.


Geoffrey Rush already gave the shirt off his back…

Literally! Melbourne Cabaret Festival is desperate to raise the $15000 that will allow it to go ahead this year, and Geoffrey Rush offered his support with a limited addition Pirates of the Caribbean t-shirt being donated to the prize draw.

Although the t-shirt was soon won by a happy contributor, there are still lots of exciting offers for you to win when supporting this great campaign.

The unique reward list on the ‘crowdfunding’ website Pozible includes a wide variety of free tickets and memberships, a personalised caricature (only one left!), a private supper booth in the famous Spiegeltent, your own personal piano man for an evening, or a recorded bedtime story (!), a free burlesque class  or even a house cabaret!

With exceptional Melbourne and international cabaret artists like Amanda Palmer, Sammy J and Randy, Kaye Sera, Trevor Jones, Karin Muiznieks, Luke Escombe, Anne Edmonds and The Jane Austen Argument offering their services, your donation to save this year’s Melbourne Cabaret Festival immedately becomes an exciting prize pack: nothing like supporting a good cause and getting an fanastic reward of your choice!

However, this is THE LAST WEEK of the campaign, so if you don’t get in quick, not only do we miss out on once again rejoicing in one of the most vibrant, diverse and extraordinary music and performance festivals in Australia – you also miss out on your chance for a once-in-a-lifetime prize.

Cabaret in Melbourne has a well-earned reputation for exceptional and exciting performers and performances, and in recent years, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival has been the premiere showcase for the greatest local and international cabaret stars have to offer.

We don’t want to lose this!

Check out the campaign and the rewards for yourself HERE! 

Save Melbourne Cabaret Festival!

REVIEW: Give My Regards To Broady

Trendy topical music theatre for all you Melbournites

By Bradley Storer

At the beginning of the show, the stage at Theatreworks is set up like the lounge room of a northern Melbourne share-house: strewn with the debris of the night before, accumulated mess, milk crate furniture and the bodies of several cast members.

Like the other work with which it shares the double-bill, Housewarming, Give My Regards To Broady is a musical dedicated to the mixed blessings and tribulations of youth through the experience of house-sharing.

The plot of Broady revolves around the daily lives and trials of a group of performing arts graduates all desperate for their big breaks and forced to find some way of co-existing peacefully. There’s Karin (Claire Healy), the lazy and poverty-stricken song-writer from Broadmeadows, her delightfully camp housemate and song-writing partner James (Leigh Jay Booth), a theatre-restaurant worker obsessed with celebrity networking, their friend Erin (Lauren Murtagh), a vainglorious South Melbourne heiress, and her ’accessory’ Luke (Joe Kosky). Lurking in the background is the rest of Karin’s housemates/backing band, with amusing interjections and intrusions from multi-instrumentalist Emma Muiznieks.

Broady is a love letter from its creators Karin Muiznieks and James Simpson, firstly to the enthusiasm and courage of young people who choose to work in the arts industry; when asked to compare her life with that of a Third-World child she sponsors, the character Karin counters ‘he doesn’t work in the arts!’.

Secondly to musical theatre itself, signalled by the posters of Sweeney Todd, Hairspray, Chicago and many other productions decorating the walls of the house. Muiznieks and Simpson play with standard musical tropes, amongst other things hilariously parodying the love duets of classic Broadway musicals and play out a wickedly vicious West Side Story-style scrag fight.

Lastly to the city of Melbourne itself, with songs devoted to topics like Melbourne Cup Day hook-ups, Crown Casino, half-built Ferris wheels – one song shows the characters trying to illustrate their relationships by comparing them to the qualities of different suburbs.

After a slow start, the show picks up strength and energy as soon as the first musical number appears. The four leads, under the direction of Scott Gooding, are all uniformly strong – the standouts are Murtagh and Kosky, who are given several moments to shine in numbers like ‘Erin’s Turn’ and the show finale. Healy and Booth ably handle the weight of keeping the show’s plot moving through several twists and turns with enthusiasm and flair. Give My Regards to Broady is an uproarious night at the theatre for music theatre lovers,  Melbournites who love their local references and for anyone in general who enjoys a good laugh.

Dates: 28 Nov – Dec 10 at Theatre Works, St Kilda
Times: Nov 30 to Dec 3 at 7:00pm / Dec 5-10 at 8:45pm

Review: WORLD WAR WONDERFUL by Karin Muiznieks

Let the battle begin!

By Brad Storer

World War Wonderful! stands as a dark parable about blind patriotism and the cycle of violence surrounding warfare. Luckily for the audience, the near-Brechtian bleakness of its vision comes clothed in hilariously quotable dialogue and insanely hummable tunes.

Greeted upon entry with the projected image of the American flag and accompanied by manic ragtime music, audience members are cast as soldiers watching a USO entertainment show.

Tonight’s performers are the Wonderful Sisters, a trio of energetic, harmony-singing siblings in the style of the Andrews Sisters (their bitter rivals). It is World War Six, Winston Churchill is President of the United States (played on video here by Casey Bennetto) and after many years of profitable war-mongering, the frightening prospect of peacetime is approaching.

The setting gives writer/composer Karin Muiznieks many opportunities to create pastiches of 1940’s musical styles, such as patriotic anthems, novelty songs, dark tangos and syrupy torch songs – all served up with deliciously twisted lyrics and pointed political satire.

Subjects include the advantages of a decorated military love-partner with (several) amputated limbs, sexual ‘warfare’, and a ‘Mr Sandman’ take-off describing the perfect political leader while making jibes at the modern American political landscape. Even those unfamiliar with this period of music will find themselves laughing at the wit and audacity of these seemingly peppy songs.

The three leads, as directed here by Scott Gooding, are all impressive in their individual roles: Louise McCrae as Fanny, the innocent youngest sibling, Laura McCulloch as the cunning middle sister Ruth, and Penelope Bruce as the morally ambivalent eldest sister Gloria. Their interactions and family feuding are perfectly played out as they seek to maintain their wealth and power in a world on the verge of peace.

By the time we reach the end of the show, the sinister conclusion seems both comically logical and chillingly unavoidable. Despite some minor technical problems on opening night, which were competently covered over by the performers, the gruesome message of World War Wonderful! was perfectly executed by all involved.

The Lamond Room, South Melbourne Town Hall

Friday 22/Saturday 23 July, 9.30pm

Tickets: www.melbournecabaret.com, ph. 1300 640 801 or at the festival box office (South Melbourne Town Hall)

Review: KARIN MUIZNIEKS’ Filthy Secrets

Risque, risky music theatre that’s both fresh and funny

By Kate Boston Smith

The rumors are true, Karin Muiznieks is one of Melbourne’s best musical theatre writer / composers, and Filthy Secrets is the perfect hot-breathed whisper to convey this exceptional talent. 

Unsure of what to expect when I took my seat, as the first song started my mouth curled into a half-moon and maintain that position for nigh on the next 55 minutes. Muiznieks and her team of talent have pieced together a jet stream of sketches that move from light-hearted over-bearing stage parents to more darker elements of sexual perversions in the society in which we all live. 

On stage with her are the flawless musical performers Cameron Thomas, Karlis Zaid, the ever-gorgeous Louise Joy McCrae and sibling/ fellow musician extraordinaire Emma Muiznieks. Together this ensemble produces choral completeness, jazzed-up jives and crooning tales of misunderstood woes

Interwoven into these delightful sounds are stories, tales and conversations which we all can relate to or comment on.  From sexually confused footballers and snooty Toorak housewives, to modern-day women with casual sex on the brain, no one is safe and nor should they be.  This is a show that explores and pokes fun at multiple facets of society with no-holds barred.

There was one sketch that was particularly risqué.  As my body squirmed in the “oh no” awkwardness of the sketches content, my head processed the intention behind this particular piece, a commentary on media outlets and the public’s obsession with celebrities.  This is a topic very fitting in today’s media climate in light of the controversy around the News of World phone-tapping scandal. 

Controversy aside, this is a show that is sleek, funny and setting the tone for modern musical theatre.  It is fast-moving to the point where you don’t notice time slipping beneath you, with performances that are strong and worthy of praise and applause they evoke. 

This is an ideal show both for those wanting to dabble in cabaret for the first time and for the more seasoned audience member: a perfect representation of fresh musical theatre with a dark, comedy bent.

Tonight Thurs 21 July at 7.15pm

$35 / $32, The Ballantyne Room, South Melbourne Town Hall

MELBOURNE CABARET FESTIVAL 2011: Ticket Sales Are Booming!

100 performers, 78 performances, 7 venues – and only 6 nights!

It’s now only a few days until the non-stop cabaret begins, and all 32 shows for the second annual Melbourne Cabaret Festival (Tue July 19- Sun 24) are selling out once again.

This year’s program includes a particularly impressive line-up of our own Melbourne favourites, renowned national artists, and some surprise international performers all coming together to historic South Melbourne for one week of outstanding and outrageous entertainment.

From the fun and frivolity with comedy cabaret, music theatre, vaudeville and New-York-style, to the clever and edgy explorations of vaudeville, burlesque, queer shows and dark cabaret, there’s something different, delightful, delicious and decadent for every taste.

So what’s our pick of the fest? Got to admit, we’re pretty excited about The Beautiful Losers back to horrify audiences with song and satire, the intriguing Filthy Secrets from the disturbing mind of Karin Muiznieks, and the triumphant festival return of the glamorous and glorious Petticoat Soiree.

Also worth watching out for will be Le Gateau Chocolat, Queenie Van de Zandt, Jon Jackson, Emma Dean, The Jane Austen Argument, Tina Del Twist, Dolly Diamond, and Emma Clair Ford, along with a host of upcoming cabaret stars, plenty of quirky, creepy or hilarious new shows, and some special events such as Trevor Jones’ Piano Bar and the best of Short+Sweet Cabaret.

Tickets start from just $15 at www.melbournecabaret.com where you can also find all the show details to pique your patronage, because with only six days to see the all best cabaret in town, you’ll need to book fast!