Friday, June 19, 2015


Amelia Ryan is Lady Liberty

Musical direction by Matthew Carey. Artspace. Adelaide Festival Centre. Adelaide Cabaret Festival. June 17-19. 2015

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Amelia Ryan. Photos by Lloyd Harvey and Spencer Harvey


The stirring sounds of the Marsellaise blast through the Festival Centre’s Artspace as chanteuse charmant, Amelia Ryan appears, wheeled through the audience by musical director, Matthew Carey, on a trolley and heaved, still as a statue, and flourishing a bottle of champagne, onto the intimate stage to introduce her latest show, a sparkling effervescent and high octane explosion of song, anecdote and audience interaction as a salute to the wonders of liberation. Feisty and forward, throwing aside decorum or discretion, she fills the small upstairs cabaret venue with the power of assertion and the free-spirited abandon of the liberation of head, heart, gut and the nether-region. As bubbly as the champers she liberally pours into a glass between her re-written version of popular songs and tales of her travels to New York after the heart-wrenching break-up of a long-term relationships, Ryan lets rip into the mike and sweeps her audience along on a wave of sheer joi d’vivre.
Amelia Ryan is Lady Liberty
Her jubilant journey of liberation all begins on the Staten Island Ferry in sight of the towering Statue of Liberty, an inspiration to all in search of freedom.  A chance selection in an International Cabaret Festival competition as a wild card and subsequent success as runner-up sets the feisty Ryan on a trail of self discovery. What is the liberated woman? Is it to be found in her hilarious mish mashed lyrics of Disney’s Under The Sea, as two unsuspecting audience members help her to play the mermaid of her song? Is it to be found in a booze befuddled night with a stranger in Las Vegas? Or is it in her freedom to reveal the salacious, embarrassing or downright funny/sad experiences of a life, spent in searching for the answers to her quest?

Ryan had to work hard to rouse a rather unresponsive and wary audience to adulation, but she got there in the end with the help of Matthew  Carey on piano, her dazzling effervescence and an enthusiastic group of women who enthusiastically heeded the call of liberation. One could only like this talented, free and high spirited artist, now proudly Adelaide’s own since her return from the Big Apple with her Adelaide born partner. She is a talent worth cherishing and Lady Liberty blasts forth her song of liberation for all. Perhaps she occasionally pushed too hard, playing a space far larger than the Artspace and coming on too strong at times. A nervous fiddle with her dress caused momentary distraction but nothing would halt her rollercoaster verve, or the joy of taking risks with her audience by testing the truth of the liberated soul.  It takes courage to lure and be lured as three unsuspecting audience members are taken  onto the stage to play her version of Truth and Dare with Never Done That Before, a game of honesty, in which the audience members are invited to admit to their sexual experiences with a sip of that liberally poured champagne.  One night stands or ménage a trois – nothing was sacred and for those who answered the questions in their heads, they had fallen under the spell of this Lady Liberty and those icons who had helped her roar, such as Madonna and Helen Reddy.

I didn’t see Amelia Ryan’s highly successful earlier show, Storm in a D Cup,  but after Amelia Ryan is Lady Liberty all I can say is “Give me more!”