31 December 2011

One punters review of 2011 from the front stalls

As the final act of 2011 comes to an end, this punter has been looking back over all the fantastic shows I’ve seen this year and dishing out my Windsor Awards.

The Musical is always an exciting night out and every show this year has been better than I expected. Boy from Oz, with Todd coming back to that role for a second chance to shake is thingy. His performance was incredible even if the rest of it wasn’t quite up to the ‘major musical’ standard. Hairspray I adored, so much colour, so much heart, it just reached over the footlights to grab us – one to always remember, so happy and proud of my friend Trevor Ashley.  Mary Poppins for a Disney production wasn’t too sweet (as they can be) and we danced and hummed all the way home. Bravo to Matt Lee a perfect Bert.  And the Windsor goes to Hairspray – well danced, well sung, and colourful and fabulous!

In 2011 I saw no dude Concerts they were all great nights out. Janet Jackson sang me the soundtrack to my life, Dolly gave me most of the tunes I’d longed for live, and I experienced a Cold Chisel show for the first time and found I knew most of the lyrics, which I sang loudly along with the rest of that congregation.  Amongst this came the strongest Kylie concert of them all (and I’ve now seen many of those) with wonderful production, a strong narrative and so much glamour. Miss Minogue please accept a Windsor.

Dolly Parton, Better Day World Tour, 15 Nov 11.

Awaiting Dolly on Tuesday evening was a packed arena eager and excited for her first concert back in Sydney for twenty odd years.  No one would leave disappointed with at least a few of your favourite songs delivered and we all got to know a little more of Dolly the artist and Dolly the person over the two and a bit hours in her company. 

As you would expect after such a long and successful career this was a very polished, slick and somewhat simple act delivered by more than an artist – it’s the work of a well oiled entertainer. And a good one at that.

Dolly hit us, dead on time, with the country/disco upbeat ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and ‘Baby I’m Burning’ looking like a petite drag queen or “white trash princess” as she calls herself,  dressed in a classic buttercup yellow knee length, long sleeved dress adorned by 6 inch bugle beading. She sported the layered long blonde wig and an impossibly clinched waist.

The expected welcome patter led straight into ‘Jolene’, with Dolly playing guitar. This was to become an interesting aspect of the performance as she played, I’m guessing, six or seven different instruments throughout the show – musician Dolly.

27 December 2011

Cold Chisel, Light The Nitro tour, Allphones Arena, 10 Nov 11.

Six o’clock I’m goin’ down
Coffee’s hot and the toast is brown
Hey streetsweeper, clear my way
Sweethearts breakfast is the best in town

The song Breakfast at Sweethearts 1979 was my first encounter with a young band called Cold Chisel. At this time I was appearing in the Les Girls Review, Kings Cross and Cinnamon Jones and I would often eat at this little coffee shop right in the middle of the Cross’s main street (along with another little place called the Aristocrat) often in the very early evening after rehearsal and before Showtime and on occasion for breakfast if we weren’t busy with the boy de jour. 

Last week and some thirty years later I got to see this great Aussie band live for the first time in their Light The Nitro arena show and true to all my expectations and just live those breakfasts there the best in town. 

26 December 2011

‘A night with Joan’, State Theatre, 7 Nov 11

Sipping champagne and socialising in the foyer of the State Theatre always seems quaint – but tonight it’s the perfect entrée to the evening ahead.

Here we were the DIVA family on mass as guests of Andrew McManus and 2UE, along with many familiar faces, this crowd was high on the gayness gauge.

‘A night with Joan’ was true to the well oiled British ‘audience with’ formula, in fact this show was coming to us direct from performances in the West End in early October – so fresh from the mint so to speak.

An overture of the ‘Dynasty’ theme struck up and the huge screen of the State came live with Alexis: Joan, dressed in black sequin leggings and a black off the shoulder gypsy top, diamante strappy sandals came rushing on “stop stop there’s more to my life than Alexis” the screen faded she turned to her audience “lets get to that later, I was born…” and so it was, off we went through her career chronically and keeping very much to her memoirs, which I read last summer and on which this show was based. 

Janet Jackson at the Sydney Opera House, 5 Nov 11

The soundtrack to my like mashed over 90 mins! Janet Jackson at the Sydney Opera House, 5 Nov 11, was intimate, in my face, loud, smooth and exciting.   

This show delivered well beyond my expectations which I might say were quite high after seeing Janet 20 years ago at the Syd Ent Centre and which to this day is the most theatrical concert I have seen, but hear it was the voice and the intimacy which were to make the evening so special. Janet can still move and the dance routines were also a highlight. 

On the Concert Hall stage we got a very tight band of 5 musicians, 3 female singers and seven dancers, 2 girls 5 boys (they were sexy as). The sound was perfect for us in our fab seats in row G (although I heard some say not so towards the back circle)  the lighting gorgeous and the stage was placed before a large screen the width of the stage on which we got film, TV and album shots during the few breaks.

This tour is called the ‘Number Ones’ and that’s what we got. Some songs complete some part of and some just sampled. But with 35 to choose from I think everyone got their favourite – I got my lot. The music sounded as fresh as today and this was the creative genius of the show – we got the hits all mixed and matched. An example being we got Scream 1995 into Rhythm Nation1988 into All for You 2001 seamless and smooth.

I ‘m wrapped Janet brought me this tour, this music and a chance to reminisce of past times good & sad, places, friends and lovers. Today my soul sings. 

DIVA on YouTube

A quick note to tell you about a wonderful little archival project which you might find interesting.

At last new software has allowed the creation of a YouTube channel devoted to all those wonderful video clips which were at the heart of the Drag Industry Variety Awards, DIVA, ceremonies through the late nineties and early noughties. Penny Clifford has project managed this initiative and the result is a wonderful archive of the best Sydney drag covering DIVA shows, classic nightclub performances and drag TV appearances. Be warned with over 100 different clips available you can get trapped for hours reliving ‘the old days’ or educating yourself on why that period was called the golden years of the strip.

In less restricted financial times than today, past DIVA Boards and the old company that produced the awards Divacom Pty were able to afford video to screen filming, along with the legendary tradition of the video overture which summed up the state of drag in that given year and featured the stars de-jour in pop-art masterpieces. Luckily, past board directors hung on to these old VHS tapes which have been collected and in the nick of time, before most had started to decay, transferred to YouTube.

So all the glitter and glamorous entertainment awaits you - go to OriginalDivaAwards YouTube channel and enjoy the show. www.youtube.com/originaldivaawards