Tag: Olivia Newton-John

REVIEW: TiaJuana and Her Depths of Despair

Musical melancholy but undeniable charm

By Anastasia Russell-Head

“Life is a comedy for those who think, and a tragedy for those who feel… Life is one damn thing after another!”

With these words, we are invited into the sad, lonely world of TiaJuana, accordion in hand, singing a mournful Portuguese song.

Together with her “support group” of community health care nurse (Mel Wishart on clarinet), employment case-worker (Pat Lyons on guitar), and counsellor (Andrew Rankin on upright bass), singer and accordionist Tia Wilson takes us through the gamut of despondent emotion.

All four performers are top-notch musicians, working with a gypsy-inspired mix of tango, Balkan, waltz, and Latino styles, and shifting effortlessly from Nick Cave-esque melancholy to the sinuous melodic shapes of the Middle-East.

The “obligatory drinking song” at the end was a highlight for me, with toe-tapping infectious rhythms and vocal harmonies.

Mention must also be made of the wonderfully desolate interpretation of Newton-John and Travolta’s “You’re the One that I Want”.

Less successful was the attempted thread of narrative connecting the musical items, which often felt slow-paced and lacklustre – the danger with theming a show around the concept of despair and depression, perhaps.

Wilson is clearly a seasoned and confident performer with an excellent sense of comic timing, and I would have liked to have seen more of this pizazz shine through the darkness more often.

For me, this performance was a tantalising musical journey, albeit somewhat lacking dramatically for the whole package to be truly effective.

This show definitely has potential, and just needs a few tweaks here and there. Here’s hoping for a second season! 


TiaJuana and Her Depths of Despair for the Melbourne Fringe festival 2011


The Butterfly Club

204 Bank St

South Melbourne


24 – 25 Sept


5.00pm Sat, 4.00pm Sun

Review: THE BEST (AND WORST) of Queenie van de Zandt

A loveable and laughable performance

By Kate Boston-Smith

Queenie van de Zandt is a vocal powerhouse filled with warmth and goodwill who knows how to laugh, especially at herself.  Her 2011 Melbourne Cabaret Festival show The Best (and Worst) of Queenie van de Zandt is a fantastic stroll down memory lane. 

Though we, the audience, don’t know these memories firsthand, van de Zandt acknowledges her non-celebrity and celebrates it with gusto and humor using photos, promotional material and personal keepsakes.

With 22 years in the business she has a kaleidoscope of stories to share.  That said, this is not a show written to gloat or big-note (though she has the vocal strength do so should she wish). No, this is a story about her journey; her ups, downs, mistakes and ultimately her passion for singing and performing.  It is like she takes the audience by the hand into the living room for a cup of tea at an intimate family gathering, where she shares pictures, hilarious horror stories and laughter.

Van de Zandt is welcoming and generous, playful and cheeky.  Her song choice displays her incredible, self-taught, vocal ability. Her inspiring song choices include the likes of ABBA, Olivia Newton-John and Joni Mitchell to name a few. 

She commands the stage, yet allows for interaction, sharing the spotlight with her adoring audience.

As she playfully poked fun at her lack of notoriety, I couldn’t help but empathise.  Not knowing much about her before I walked into the show, I can honestly say I left feeling like an old-friend; such is the connection she has with us.

If you are looking for a beautiful, honest show about joy, heartache and renewal all told with warmth and humor then this is the cabaret for you.

Performed by Queenie van de Zandt with Lucy Bermingham accompanying.

Tonight & Sunday 24 July,  8.15pm

$40 / $37

The Incubator, Auspicious Arts,

228 Bank Street, South Melbourne


The countdown is over as internationally-acclaimed cabaret blasts off in Adelaide!

Adelaide Cabaret Festival opens this week, as their fabulous iconic Amazonian queen of cabaret stands surrounded by stars and toasting the conquering of new worlds and the triumph of cabaret reaching universal audiences.

Although Adelaide Cabaret Festival has continued to make a place for itself at an international level, and to attract an exciting calibre of overseas artists, it is Australia’s own Olivia Newton-John is the headliner for this year’s program.

Another towering superwoman in the entertainment industry, Newton-John is offering a musical retrospective of her fabulous career, accompanied by the Adelaide Arts Orchestra.

Cabaret and music theatre fans will be perhaps even more thrilled to hear New York-cabaret king Michael Feinstein will be closing this year’s festival with the Australian premiere of the show created from his famous Sinatra project.

In addition, the legendary Chita Rivera will be here on our shores to share some glorious music and moments from her illustrious life on Broadway.

But perhaps the most exciting performances to watch out for are our own upcoming and established local talent.  

Rhonda Burchmore, Simon Burke and Rachel Beck for example, are providing some entertaining showcases in music theatre and jazz.

But for the most innovative, edgy and enticing examples of what Australia is so uniquely exploring with the cabaret genre, don’t miss checking out the devasting talent of Paul Capsis, the sumptuous voice of Ali McGregor, and the sophisticated work of Robyn Archer for starters.

Adelaide Cabaret Festival runs from June 10-25 2011, and you can read about the stars, and book for all these shows and more on their website.