Rumour Has It (Queensland Theatre Company and The Little Red Company)
The Greenhouse, Bille Brown Studio
October 7 – 17
People have been raving about “Rumour Has It” for years; the Matilda Award winning show has toured Brisbane four times. And by two songs in, it is easy to appreciate the hype, for only the highest of praise is apt for Naomi Price’s intimate tongue-in-cheek tribute to British singer/songwriter superstar Adele. Indeed, as creator/performer Price moves from the initial title track to the powerhouse ‘Rolling in the Deep’ it is difficult not to feel goosebumpy as she belts out the song that represented Adele’s international commercial breakthrough.
Commanding performances aside, this is also an intimate cabaret experience during which the songstress, sporting trademark ginger-beehive hairstyle, shares anecdotes of her life so far, from hurts to highs, in between an array of songs including a memorable mashup medley of Spice Girls tracks inset into ‘Chasing Pavements’. There is a dusky glow to the Bille Brown Studio space, which she jokingly refers to as the milk factory theatre in reference to its proximity to Paul’s. A mismatched collection of lamp shades hangs from the ceiling and when bubbles fill the air in accompaniment to her ‘Daydreamer’ lament of first love, it is a truly magical few moments.
Often the cabaret comes across more as conversation about her humble beginnings as Adele Laurie Blue Adkins. Price has a clear stage presence and is cheeky as ever in role as the chatty, likeable singer, ad-libbing sassy responses to audience interactions and including quips about reality tv talent shows like “The Voice” on which she was a 2015 semi-finalist. She shows an uncanny skill for mimicry and accents. Just as she ably channelled Miley Cyrus in “Wrecking Ball”, she not only presents perfect cockney accent as she tells of her time growing up in Tottenham but incorporates perfect imitation of Celine Dion and Amy Winehouse.
Act One finishes on a high with an upbeat ‘Right as Rain’ and after intermission the audience returns to an initially melancholic second act with dark and moody lighting from Jason Glenwright to accompany a spectacular rendition of her Academy-Award-winning ‘Skyfall’ (the theme song of the 2012 James Bond film of the same name) and, after much teasing, the show-stopping song everyone came for, ‘Someone Like You’, the emotional performance of which makes you almost afraid to breathe, lest you become no longer entranced in the moment.
This is Price’s vocal prowess; through songs of heartbreak and hope she shares a soulful voice beyond her years. She is a generous performer too, including spotlight on the band and backing singers who each get 32 bars to strut their own good stuff. And well should they be celebrated; Michael Manikus is a maestro on piano, expertly supported by Jason McGregor (Musical Director & guitars), Andrew Johnson on bass, Mik Eastman on drums and vocalists Rachael Everett-Jones, Tom Oliver and Luke Kennedy.
This show is acclaimed for good reason; it is richly composed and effectively balanced to cohesively pull together both big numbers and running conversation. Naomi Price is not only one of Brisbane’s best musical voices but an extraordinary entertainer able to take audiences along for the ride with foot-stomping pop anthems and big, beautiful ballads alike. In “Rumour Has It” she is able to showcase this through the range of Adele’s music, from her earliest to most recent works, all cleverly interwoven in the narrative of her life. While you don’t have to be an Adele fan to enjoy the show, you will no doubt be a Naomi Price fan by the end, if not earlier.