Mike McLeish shot to fame as Keating in the Australian political musical smash Keating! He continued his streak as Michael Slater, Mark Waugh and Darryl Cullinan in Shane Warne The Musical. Most recently appearing as Vlad in Dracula’s Theatre Restaurant.
It seems one of these things is not like the others.
In McLeish’s affable and personable cabaret show, The World Is Winning, he walks us through his rise to fame, and his life as an entertainer in what is rather less than he’d hoped for when the curtain dropped on Shane Warne. As the audience is still filtering in, the four-piece band play an easy going jazz piece, giving the Space Theatre the vibe of a Melbourne jazz club. McLeish slips onto the stage and behind the piano without comment and almost without notice, as he launches into the most downtrodden song of the night: The World Is Winning.
While McLeish’s introduction to the show, an exposition of what lead him to the skin-tight silver leggings that is his costume at Dracula’s, feels like the show will perhaps be set back a bit too much in the stage, McLeish proceeds to dispel these thoughts. He quickly builds up a rapport with the audience, talking to the Adelaide audience about our (now demised) theatre restaurant Night Train, making references to conversations with jealous friend David Campbell (“local references are key”, he shares).
All self penned songs, with an exception for reclaiming Chris Issak’s Wicked Game (performed at Dracula’s as a heavy rock cover), McLeish moves the audience from the sublimely hilarious in Fuck You Imported Hit Broadway Musical, through to more touching songs about life and relationships.
The fantastic band melds well with McLeish’s smooth vocals, McLeish is as at ease with jazz as he is with rap. The show lacks a true conclusion – is McLeish still working at Dracula's while doing this show? – the show ends on a high-point, Keating!’s Light On The Hill from an audience request, and McLeish’s personality continues to shine through the whole performance.
2011 Adelaide Cabaret Festiva
The World is Winning
Venue: Space Theatre
Dates: 23 - 25 June, 2011
Times: 6:30pm (23) & 7:15pm (24 & 25)
Duration: 1 Hour
Tickets: Adult $38.00, Concession $34.00