Women in Voice 21st Anniversary
Judith Wright Centre, Performance Space
October 16 – 25
The local phenomenon that is “Women in Voice” is turning 21 and audiences are invited to the party. And what a party it is, complete with childhood photos and a whole load of fun. ‘What were you doing in 1993?’ emcee Liz Buchanan asks the audience to ponder in the show’s opening moments; it was fitting for me to have my swampie (uni) self recollections accompanied by a snippet of The Cure’s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’. Although not all nostalgic, the musical selections are quite wonderful, ranging from The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby’ to Sia’s ‘Chandelier’, and even though Helen Reddy’s athematic ‘I am Woman’ makes an almost sneak appearance, this is a show far from any feminist agenda amongst the good time hilarity.
There’s always an inherent risk of audience participation when seated at cabaret tables near the stage and audience members will discover this when Carita Farrer Spencer appears as her outrageous male alter-ego asking for ‘your extra time and your kiss’. It is a lively, fun-filled, adult-themed end to an eclectic show that mere moments earlier sees the audience being soared to operatic heights by Bethan Ellsmore’s impressive vocal range.
In the secure hands of Broadway babe emcee Liz Buchanan, the show is presented as a series of sets (sweet, souful, sultry and surreal) from a diverse group of performers. Song selection suits both each performer’s distinct vocal style and the theme of each set, and the pacing is perfect, both within each segment and in contribution to the show’s holistic ‘something for everyone’ appeal.
The sets begin with a wistful performance from flower-child Alinta J’s, including of a lovely original number. Despite her relative youth, Alinta’s talent is clear and her vocals are very easy to listen to. In contrast, Lil’Fi’s following powerful, preacher-esque performance of sassy deep south blues numbers, is a toe-tapping, audience clap-along joyous celebration, complete with duelling banjo sounds and musician spoons. Indeed, members of this 21st line-up are all charismatic, dynamic performers with engaging stage presence, both when being showcased individually or when acting as backing babes. And the talent of the show’s musicians, is equally impressive.
“Women in Voice” is a glittering chandelier of a show and a guaranteed great girls night out. This is clear from the early moments when Alinta J bops out ‘Benny and the Jets’ prompting (controlled) audience desire to sing along, like in that scene from “27 Dresses”. Each audience member will have their favourite performer, but the talent of all the women is undeniable. Judging by this show, 21 years after its humble beginnings in a West End café, “Women in Voice” looks set only to continue to grow in popularity through its showcase of some of the country’s best female vocal talent.
Photo c/o – https://www.facebook.com/WomenInVoice/