The crowd at His Majesty’s Theatre was cheering for Caroline O’Connor even before she walked on stage. It took mere seconds for the 1000 strong audience (myself included) to be eating out of the palm of her hand, lapping up every note, lyric, and sashay she gave us.
Arranged by musical director and pianist Daniel Edmonds, An Evening With Caroline O’Connor was a treat for Perth, a one-off concert originating from a cabaret show (The Girl from Oz) that O’Connor performed at the Birdland Jazz Club in New York a few years ago.
Opening with a sultry number followed by a medley of songs from Chicago, O’Connor took us on a journey through her life and the many musicals, films and stage shows she has been involved in. Songs from Mack and Mabel, West Side Story, Piaf, Moulin Rouge and De-Lovely were interspersed by tales of O’Connor’s life on the stage, many of them making the audience roar with laughter.
O’Connor appears as a brutally honest, charming, funny and powerful woman, and I’m sure she is an inspiration to many up coming cabaret and musical theatre performers. Her voice is out of this world (ie brilliant); at times smoky, sexy, brash, plaintive, but always full of life and power and energy. Kudos to her band as well, they were a tight ensemble who worked extremely well with O’Connor.
O’Connor is that rarest of performers, excelling at singing, dancing and acting. She trained at the Royal Ballet School in England (and in Irish dancing as she proudly showed us) before moving into musical theatre. O’Connor shines at accents, a talent she illustrated to great effect throughout the night when she depicted Ethel Merman, Judy Garland, and Edith Piaf to resounding applause.
O’Connor has also achieved what many musicians and performers can only dream off – to be well known and respected not only in Australia, but in both the United States and Europe. She’s performed in the West End, on Broadway, on the screen, and most recently in Paris in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.
Sondheim himself announced after Sweeney Todd’s opening night that she was the best Mrs Lovett he had ever heard – rare praise indeed. It’s only a shame her wondrous talent keeps her away from Australia for so long – I’m sure there are many people who would like to see her here more.
The night ended with a haunting, goose bump inducing, mash-up of Somewhere over the Rainbow and Waltzing Matilda that brought the audience to their feet (for the third time). We left floating on a cloud, knowing that we had been witness to a wonderful talent, a brilliant performance, and a unique experience.
An Evening With Caroline O’Connor – A Musical Life
Venue: His Majesty's Theatre, Perth
Date: Thursday 26 May, 2011
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing +61 8 9484 1133 | BOCS outlets