Friday, September 2, 2022

COME TO THE CABARET - Tuggeranong Arts Centre.


Presented by Tuggeranong Arts Centre and Australian Musical Theatre Academy

Performed by (As pictured L – R) Sarahlouise Owens, Tina Meir, Deborah O’Toole, Gemma Rose Hewitson, Chelsea Heaney, Robyn Womersley (MD) Alex Chambers, Lee J. Collier, Travis Moore, Sarah Ison, Queenie Van de Zandt (Course leader), Shawnah Cady, Marcel Cole, Yalaria Rogers, Miriam Slater, Natalie Russell, Air Guitar Android, Janie Lawson.

5.00pm performance on 28th August reviewed by Bill Stephens

A recent initiative by the Tuggeranong Arts Centre provided the opportunity for 17 Canberra performing artists to attend two weeks of intensive workshops concentrating on the complexities of creating a career in cabaret.

The workshops were conducted by former Canberran, Queenie Van de Zandt, who has established herself as an innovative performing arts trainer in addition to maintaining her own impressive career in musical theatre and cabaret.

The workshops not only covered the performing aspects of cabaret but also included a series of zoom masterclasses from cabaret luminaries including Trevor Ashley, Maude Davey, Catherine Alcorn, Ali McGregor, Matt Gilbertson and Sara Ward (better known as Yana Alana) who provided insights into such nitty gritty aspects as writing and putting together a show, then marketing and pitching it to prospective presenters.

The culmination of the workshops was two performances featuring all the participants in a self-devised showcase demonstrating their new-found skills. For the duration of the workshops and for both performances of the showcase, the participants were accompanied on piano by one of the country’s most accomplished Musical Directors and accompanists, Robyn Womersley, who has just returned to Australia having completed three years teaching in a major American University. 

As the workshops attracted accomplished artists with already established performing arts careers in various genres eager to access the possibilities offered by the workshops, together with hopeful beginners seeking to gain a toehold for a performing arts career. Therefore the standard of the performances was always going to be variable given the time restraints imposed by the intense workload involved.

As Queenie explained in her introduction, the object at the end of the workshops was not necessarily to provide a polished performance, but rather for each participant to experience the various aspects involved in creating and performing their own work.

Certainly the participants scored well on the marketing, as between them they managed to attract capacity houses for both performances.

 For the performance tiny Tuggeranong Art Centre Theatre stage was transformed into a with a cabaret room with tables and chairs. Following a brief introduction in which she offered some information about the course and the participants, Queenie Van de Zandt commenced the performance with a rendition of “Penny Arcade” as the cast filed in and seated themselves at the tables. Then followed a series of solo and group performances each devised and presented by the various participants.

                                                 Image: Cassidy Richens