Review: The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret

For an afternoon or evening of sequins, feathers, high-kicks, close harmonies, and energy, there is no better place to be than the Woolloongabba Antique Centre.  The Candy Shop Show promised performers singing and dancing their way through the Prohibition and Speakeasy’s of the 20s and 30s and reliving the melodic harmonies of the 1940s. The production […]

For an afternoon or evening of sequins, feathers, high-kicks, close harmonies, and energy, there is no better place to be than the Woolloongabba Antique Centre.  The Candy Shop Show promised performers singing and dancing their way through the Prohibition and Speakeasy’s of the 20s and 30s and reliving the melodic harmonies of the 1940s. The production delivered on that promise. I saw the matinee on 9th May, 2015, where Jenny Usher (Director/Choreographer/Performer) was joined on stage by Erin Coates, Maureen Bowra, and Natalie Renouf. The high-energy musical theatre production had plenty of opportunity to see their combined “over 12 metres of legs” as the audience enjoyed a “delicious journey through the 20s, 30s, and 40s.”

The music was well-chosen, there was a wonderful balance between dance and song, and the costumes complemented each of the set-pieces. The cast, ably supported by Kym Brown (stage manager), produces an hour and a half of high-class entertainment that is educational and fun.

Pictured: Jenny Usher, Erin Coates, Maureen Bowra, and Natalie Renouf. à  la Moulin Rouge!, in The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.
Pictured: Jenny Usher, Erin Coates, Maureen Bowra, and Natalie Renouf. à la Moulin Rouge!, in The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

Song and dance routines were interspersed with short talks, contextualising the change in dance and musical styles with film excerpts and newsreel footage. This gave the cast a chance to make a number of quick costume changes—moving with a flourish from the flappers of the 20s, to the top hat and tails of the 30s, and Andrew’s sisters-style uniforms of the 40s.  In the second half, the cast touched on a number of aspects of the modern revival of the jazz age—complete with performances of CandyMan (in sailor suits of course), music and dance from Chicago, and even racy red outfits à la Moulin Rouge!

I found myself thinking it would be an ideal Mother’s Day gift: a chance to shop in the Woolloongabba Antique Centre, enjoy interval refreshments at the 1950’s Milk Bar style cafe, and settle the family into vintage cinema seats to enjoy a performance of high-kicks and close harmonies.  Shoppers longingly peeked through the curtains, clearly wishing they’d also invested in a ticket.

Only four more performances remain in the Anywhere Festival Brisbane season. I’d recommend you snap up any remaining tickets if you can. Sequins and feather boas optional (for the audience).

The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.
The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret (9th May 2015). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.

 

Catherine Lawrence

 

Main picture: Jenny Usher (Director/Choreographer/Performer), in Top Hat n’Tails, at The Jazz Age Dance Cabaret. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence.