There was a period not so long ago when Melbourne audiences had ample opportunity to see musical theatre performers in a cabaret setting (at multiple venues), singing great songs and telling stories. Sadly, there have not been too many of these opportunities in recent times.
Chelsea Gibb, after a recent return to performing, has decided to embrace the artform, and together with director Scott J Hendry and musical director Denis Follington has devised an eclectic evening of styles and song choices that highlight the interesting life and career (thus far) of Chelsea.
On a darkened stage the music starts and the sultry voice of Gibb opens the show with the rousing The Singer (or the Song), a number that many will recognise from recordings by either Streisand or Minnelli. This is not, however, going to be a night of Divas or musical theatre renditions, but rather a collection of not-so-obvious choices, which makes for an unpredictable, yet highly enjoyable performance.
From her early tomboy days growing up in Ballarat to graduating from WAAPA and being immediately thrust into the leading role of Roxie in the very sexy revival production of Chicago in the late 90s, Gibb gently tells about the life of a dreamer who suddenly found herself in the midst of a surreal world of fame and acclaim, while still in her early 20s.
The varied song choices, from composers that include Stephen Sondheim (Sooner of Later) and Kander & Ebb (Roxie from Chicago), mostly work well. The ones that work best are when the song & the performance merge to create a genuine cabaret style feel. Particularly memorable were Gibb's versions of Billie Holiday's That Ole Devil Called Love, and the terrific In These Shoes.
Hendry does a fine job on putting all the pieces together, and the musical trio of Follington, Mark George and David George create a rich sound that higlights the musical arrangements. Mention should also be made of Scott Allan's lighting design, which is used to great theatrical effect in the small space.
In These Shoes may have had a brief run this time, but is sure to return in the near future.
IN THESE SHOES
Directed by Scott J Hendry
Venue: Chapel off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Date: Sunday 27 November
Times: 4pm + 7pm
Tickets: $45 Full, $39 Concession (plus transaction fee)