Trouble in Tin Pan AlleyLeft – (l-r) Sue Bluck, Pamela Jansson & Ashley Arbuckle

2 out of 3 ain’t bad is it? 

When it comes to an intimate show with only three performers, unfortunately 2 out of 3 can make for an ordinary evening.

The last show in the 2013 DownStairs at the Maj Cabaret Soiree season, Trouble in Tin Pan Alley had promise; internationally recognised performers, a 1930’s theme, and classic songs from the golden age of musical theatre.

Awkward, overly cheesy banter in between songs and a lead singer (Pamela Jansson) who was more operatic than jazz/cabaret created a show that fell down in entertainment and lacked the wow factor.

The trio; Violinist Ashley Arbuckle, Sue Bluck on Piano, and Jansson on vocals, are all individually talented. Arbuckle’s interpretation of Georgia on my mind (Hoagy Carmichael) was smooth and emotive. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a jazz violinist before (especially one so well known in the classical world), so it was insightful and enjoyable to listen and watch Arbuckle in motion.

Although I couldn’t see Bluck due to the piano vs my seat location, her playing was tight and multilayed. The highlight of the night for me was Bluck alone at the piano, singing Ray Henderson’s Bye Bye Blackbird. Her voice was crisp and mellow, and I was instantly drawn into the emotion.

Jansson is an admirable singer, but I felt her style did not match the songs nor the show. Her constant use of ‘scooping’, the act of singing up to note, fast became tiresome, as did her overuse of vibrato.

It was a pity I didn’t enjoy the singing, as the songs themselves were some of my favourites. Classics such as Ain’t Misbehaving, The Way You Look Tonight, The Nearness of You and The Man I Love were in the mix. I’m not sure who was responsible for the arrangement but the mix of violin, piano and vocal was a good fusion for the most part.

As always, the venue DownStairs at the Maj was fabulous with a relaxed vibe. The selection of food this year has been impressive, and I’m looking forward to seeing (eating) what is on offer next year. 

Overall, Trouble in Tin Pan Alley was a mild let down, primarily due to disliking the singing style. What I felt could have been a snappy and feel good show was lacking in emotion and wow.

Perth Theatre Trust presents
devised by Damon Lockwood

Venue: DownStairs at the Maj, Perth
Dates: 3 –5 October, 2013

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