Staged in the cramped but lovely Melbourne institution The Butterfly Club, Don We Now Our Gay Apparel has everything you'd expect from a Christmas show: carols with nifty harmonies, jokes about wrapping presents, and a twisted take on a traditional Christmas tale. ("No one wants to see three lesbians re-enacting the Nativity," Rule complains to her co-stars, before being roped into portraying a frustrated, heavily pregnant Virgin Mary in a quirky re-telling of the birth of Jesus.)
The show's format allows the three girls to showcase their fantastic voices in a mix of group songs and solo numbers. After beginning with the cute, boppy Santa Baby, the girls launch into a rather nervous patter that drags on a little bit too long. The material is not quite polished enough to carry the performers from song to song, and because they all look and sound so much more comfortable singing - and because they each have a fabulous set of pipes - you just want them to keep singing. The harmonies are tight and inventive, and though each performer possesses a unique vocal quality, their voices blend flawlessly in numbers like Carol Bells, and do a fantastic boy band impression (complete with Backstreet Boys choreography) in Last Christmas. Individually, the girls all choose fantastic numbers to showcase their own talents: Emma sings a slow, straight version of Tom Lehrer's Old Dope Peddler, Elle dedicates an increasingly unimpressed letter to an ex-boyfriend who's piled her with gifts over The 12 Days of Christmas and Caity pours her heart into a simple, melancholy version of the Joni Mitchell classic River.
The tricky part about presenting a cabaret is trying to be inventive, captivating, entertaining and funny while showcasing your talents in the best possible light. The best cabarets are the ones which look polished but not over-rehearsed and where the patter looks casually improvised even though it is scripted down to the last pause. Fowler, Rule and Sejean are blessed with beautiful voices, but sometimes the linking material lets them down. A rather awkward Christmas trivia section falls flat, while a beautiful arrangement of Silent Night, accompanied by Fowler on the guitar, is a touching end to the evening. There is no denying these VCA alumni have talent, and with a bit more polish and some much-needed direction their cabaret will be a winner. The fact that these guys are getting out there and putting on their own show so soon after graduating is commendable. They're going to keep getting better with every show they do.
Don We Now Our Gay Apparel (fa la la la la la la la la)
Caity Fowler, Emma Rule and Elle Sejean
Venue: The Butterfly Club | 204 Bank Street, South Melbourne
Dates: Thursday 20 to Sunday 23 December
Times: 7.00 pm Thurs – Sat / 6.00 pm Sunday
Tickets: $25 full / $20 concession and for groups of 8 or more
Duration: one hour approx