Pop-culture cabarescence

That 90s Show (Tom Sharah)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre

June 13

It is said that cabaret can be like church (#inagoodway); when a show really flies, the feeling can be congregational as audience members share in moments of exhilaration. Such is the experience of Tom Sharah’s “That 90s Show”, which as the name self-explanatorily attests, takes audience on a cabarescent, nostalgic, acid-jean celebratory Venga Bus trip back to the decade of double denim.


While to many, the ‘90s is tragic musical time perhaps best forgotten (think Aqua and Hanson), for Sharah, this was the decade that nurtured his identity during his formative years and his fondness for the time is clear in both his anecdotes and somewhat obscure guilty-pleasure song choices (minus the guilt).

From the moment he bursts on stage to blast the audience with a lively rendition of Robbie Williams’ ‘Let Me Entertain You’, Sharah’s dynamic stage presence is undeniable. His voice goes from strength to powerful strength through the era’s diverse range of songs and artists, ranging from Nirvana grunge to Whitney Houston and Wendy Matthews ballads. Indeed, from The Spice Girls to Five and Romy and Michele, he has every ‘90s memory covered; there is even room for some Disney movie anthems. The standout performance, however, has to be his passionate ‘You Outta Know’ by angsty Alanis Morissette. Like so many other of the show’s songs, its arrangement is just as stellar as its dramatic delivery, making it worth the price of a ticket on its own.

Not only is Sharah a ‘90s kid through and through, but he is naturally funny storyteller, which gives additional appeal to the personal anecdotes with which he peppers the show’s soundtrack. The manner in which these stories, delivered in casual, conversational style from a blow-up plastic couch surrounded by kitsch memorabilia, are interwoven with pop-culture references shows a careful craftendess that makes for a tightly woven 60 minute show the celebrates the good, the bad and the ugly of its now 15 year old subject. The manner with which Sharah exploits the fourth wall awareness that sets cabaret apart from musical theatre, is absolutely engaging to the point that his extended stories do not interrupt, but rather add to the completeness of this cabaret experience.

Even though I’m more of a ‘80s girl, I couldn’t help but love every moment of this gloriously fun-filled show. Indeed, “That 90s Show: is quite possibly the best cabaret experience I have ever had. And judging by the booing and concert foot-stamping that audience members enacted upon being told that the show was over, it seems like I’m not the only one. Regardless of what particular decade most floats your boat, “That 90s Show” is sure to make good of its initial song promise of entertainment because Tom Sharah is good, and outta sight and he will leave you wanting more to the point of heading home to scour your cd collection for its vintage gems from this last great decade.

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