Brisbane Festival is always such a wonderful time for wayward Brisbanites to re-fall in love with our city. It truly is such a lovely place and times like these really seem to highlight our ‘big-little city' in such a marvellous way.
I remember seeing the Spiegeltent for the first time many years ago; thinking it must definitely contain some sort of magical, mysterious, bamboozling wonderment inside. This year is no exception with the opening night of California Crooners. Founded by Australian actor Hugh Sheridan, this dapper threesome-of-gents span across the globe from America, South Africa and right here on home soil. Like his two counterparts, Emile Welman and Gabe Roland, I had no idea who Hugh Sheridan was, let alone he is an actor: fellow crooners only knew Hugh Sheridan as a singer, and I can see why. Confident and competent, Sheridan takes to crooning like a duck takes to water: as a trio they are each as strong as their counterpart. I have rarely seen a musical show that is so interactive, comedic and charming in it's delivery – you can't tell whether you're at a jazz club or a comedy house.
The witty banter between talents channel the Australian camaraderie we are well known for: their blatant disregard for audience/performer ‘wall’ made for an amusing and highly entertaining show.
With all the talent and attitude of a modern day 'Rat Pack' these three spend more time off stage than on, weaving throughout the crowd, sneakily sipping wine from peoples’ glasses; kissing ladies in the front row and grabbing patrons to dance in the aisles. The audience was constantly craning their necks every which way to see if they’ll be the next (unlucky is a matter of opinion?) victim of their charming folly!
Imagine all the sass of Sinatra singing Justin Bieber; Ray Charles re-imagined with that infamous Kanye twist, then throw some free style rapping in the mix and you have a tiny idea of what you might be in for with the California Crooners Club. With a band consisting of drums, keyboard and a double bass/electric bassist, they were pumping out the sounds like a miniature big band.
Engaging from start to finish these guys are absolutely electrifying and pure entertainment. Bringing classic songs with a modern twist and vice versa with current hits swung with an old time jazz feel, I've never seen an ENTIRE seated audience get up and lose themselves. Dancing in the aisles, jumping on chairs and 'tripping the light fantastic' with the performers themselves, even I ditched the note pad to bust a move with the lady next to me! Absolute participation: I can only imagine these three crooners had a heart full of joy watching everyone jumping up and immersing themselves in their version of 'Valerie'. Wow, just wow.
The crowd were stomping their feet and clapping for more and were rewarded with an impromptu encore of the famous Sinatra song, ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ with the atmosphere kicked up to super charge. Honestly, if ever there was a time you could apply the “you just had to be there” line this would be it. Lucky for you California Crooners still have a few shows up their sleeve, so if you see nothing else at Brisbane Festival, I suggest you cut loose and bring your dancing shoes to this one as it's sure to be a groovin’ good time for everyone!
Brisbane Festival presents
California Crooners Club
Venue: Aurora Spiegeltent | Cultural Forecourt, South Bank QLD
Dates: 3 – 11 Sep 2016
Tickets: $52 – $48