“Women in Voice 16” has something for everyone. This modern feminist cabaret, created by Annie Peterson and directed by Karen Crone, gives the six female performers the chance to sing, scat and speak whatever they desire to perform in front of an audience. These women – Carita Farrer, Christine Johnston, Annie Lee (the evening’s MC), Jackie Marshall, Annie Peterson and Alison St Ledger – are all from diverse and plentiful backgrounds, yet come together for Women in Voice with such flair that confirms their passion for the project. Accompanied by five musicians, the evening is a steady stroll through the women’s musical passions.
It is evident from the excitement and buzz that is in the QPAC audience that Women in Voice has a following. From its inception in 1993 in a West End café, to the Queensland Performing Arts Centre Playhouse in 2007, the production has had a steady growth in popularity and quality that deserves to be recognised. This growth has developed its own audience, and with it, its own culture. Throughout Christine Johnston’s random and strange performance, many sporadic giggles were often heard throughout the audience, giving the feel that some sort of ‘in-joke’ was happening. Feeling distinctly left out, I watched Johnston’s performance with wonder and mild incomprehension. Happily however, Carita Farrer and Alison St Ledger wrenched me back from bewilderment and into utter enjoyment, with their easy humour and charismatic personas.
Annie Lee, as the evening’s MC, captures the audience with her expressive face and amazing large, bright eyes. Her intermittent songs about dreams and the vastness of the universe, evidently project the WIV desire for women (and men) to follow their dreams and make their own destiny, as they did when they first created Women in Voice.
Christine Johnston performs dressed as an old school teacher; sings the Latin word for Tomato; and breaks out to ‘What I Like About You,’ before performing her signature act – playing the musical saw. The haunting and ringing sound of the saw compliments Johnston’s obscure persona. Her performance is stilted and disjointed, yet suits the character she is playing.
Jackie Marshall performs for her first time with the WIV ensemble, yet the power of her performance surely ensures this will not be her last. Her husky, smooth, sensual voice and laid back, bluesy music about pain and pretty men make even the most ambivalent audience member melt in their seat. Marshall almost hides the true power of her voice, which enhances her performance’s mystery and intrigue.
Annie Peterson is easy to watch and performs quite a likeable performance. Her easy charm as the yodeling cow-hen, followed by a poignant Irish folk song, and a rocking-Mum rendition of Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’, displays this woman’s obvious musical diversity.
Alison St Ledger opens her segment with a brilliant slideshow of ‘An American in Paris’, or… ‘An Australian in Brisbane’. As she vocalises the resounding French ballads, one almost believes they truly have left Brisbane for a few brief moments. Despite the language barrier of the music, the audience is truly captured by St Ledger’s music, and is most appreciative of her song about Carousels and Ferris Wheels.
Carita Farrer is brilliant. This opera prima donna diva has not only a fantastic voice, but also a bizarre yet hilarious sense of humour that sees her using a puppet while singing Madama Butterfly, and completing a one-woman rendition of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. Truly a commander of the stage, Farrer’s performance is worth waiting to the end of the show to see.
With the multiple concepts being explored in Women in Voice, its ability to appeal to a broad demographic is certainly met. Everyone will find at least something to like about Women in Voice 16.
Women In Voice 16
Venue: Playhouse, QPAC
Dates: Wed - Sat, 12 to 22 Sep 7.30pm; 22 September, 2pm
Tickets: $31.00 to $45.00 (inc. fees)
Bookings: 136 246 or www.qtix.com.au
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