Fat Swan is a perfect fit for the Spiegletent. A portly drag queen in a tutu, a film star, a musical theatre goddess, a reality TV star, and a send-up of last year's most send-up-able cinema hit.
Natalie Portly (Trevor Ashley), the innocent rising star of the Yarra Ballet, must reach beyond her distended anus and tap into her inner femme fatale to play the role of the black pig in a new production of Swine Lake. But the road to glory is a bumpy one. Will Natalie give in to the wiles of the 'straight' choreographer? Will understudy Mila Kuntz (Lisa Adams) steal her part and her cherry at the same time? Will her mother (Tara Morice) stop doing the pasodoble long enough to feed the anorexic Natalie? Will Winona Write-Off ever bring back all the jackets she stole from the audience?
The production certainly warms up as it goes along. For a ballet, Fat Swan is a bit lacking in dance moves, especially as every time Ashley does dance, it's laugh-out-loud entertaining. Thankfully, the finale is truly hysterical. Never are you likely to see a more entertaining medley of every famous dance move you can possibly think of, all mashed in together and performed in tutus. Think Flashdance meets The Macarena meets Nutbush meets The Nutcracker. The production would be close to the perfect spoof if it just had more of that.
The cast is fantastic. Ashley has a powerful voice and his infectious energy is so engaging it's hard to tear your eyes from him. Of course with no set to speak of (Ashley informed the crowd you can't afford Tara Morice and a set) that's not particularly a problem. Tara Morice (Strictly Ballroom) has a fabulous voice and an impeccable understanding of the timing and nuance necessary for convincing pantomime. Lisa Adam plays drunk extraordinarily well, and while TV personality Brendan Moar is a bit lost amongst the breadth of talent around him, his energy and commitment is commendable.
Of course, a 40 year old plump drag queen playing an anorexic, virginal ballerina is the whole reason pantomimes exist and writer Phil Scott doesn't disappoint with a plethora of classic panto one-liners in every scene. Pantomimes are unique beasts, however, and there are a few moments in Fat Swan that don't quite work. The mesh of panto, drag show and cabaret act gets a little messy on occasion and Ashley's constant use of "boys and girls" to address the audience begins to feel a little tired before the night is through.
Nevertheless, the dance medley finale is worth the ticket price alone and is unquestionably the Spiegeltent at its best.
Showqueen Productions presents
by Phil Scott
Venue: The Famous Spiegeltent | Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: March 6 – 11, 2012
Bookings: 1300 182 183