Velvet (Organised Pandemonium)
QPAC, Cremorne Theatre
April 20 – May 15
After amazing audiences at last year’s Brisbane Festival, “Velvet” is back for an encore season at QPAC to razzle dazzle back to the days of diva disco delirium, with addition of some amazing acrobatics.
The 70s cabaret, featuring her highness Marcia Hines at the helm, is infectiously fun but also seriously sexy in that hedonistic Studio 54 way. From the moment musical director, mix master and percussionist Joe Accaria begins the show with ‘Boogie Wonderland’, the dazzle is almost overwhelming in its assault on the senses. There is not a lot in terms of narrative; what unites the show instead is its eclecticism; it serves as showcase of the diverse talents of sassy singing sirens Chaska Halliday and Rechelle Mansour, muscle man Stephen Williams, cheeky hula boy extraordinaire Craig Reid, acrobatic wunderkind Mirko Köckenberger and sizzling aerialist Emma Goh.
Singer/songwriter Brendan Maclean again takes lead in the ensemble of circus, cabaret and music talent. Infectiously energetic, for most of the show, he is equally impressive in delivery of a moving, acoustic rendition of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ which, although brilliant, seems out-of-step with the show’s ostentatiousness and buoyant energy.
The star, however, has to be Hines, who illuminates the stage in every instance, showcasing her enduring vocal prowess in classic numbers like ‘You’ and ‘Never Knew love Like This Before’. Indeed, the soundtrack is sensationally ‘70s featuring numbers like ‘Le Freak’ and ‘Turn the Beat Around’ alongside a slightly sadomasochistic circus show to ‘I Feel Love’.
In many ways, “Velvet” is a state of mind as much as an experience. Everything within its amalgam of forms is extravagant and while seats close its thrust stage allow for intimate appreciation of the precision, strength and balance of circus performers, those located further back in the venue are rewarded with appreciation of the full spectacle of the show’s dynamic lighting, slick transitions and mirror ball décor. But there is also realisation that in its previous Powerhouse incantation, aerial gymnastics presented as much more impressive to the larger venue’s room to move and higher ceilings from which to dangle.
While polished in every aspect, “Velvet” still comes across as funky, fun and as fresh as ever. Its carefree comedy and intoxicating atmosphere guarantees enjoyment for even the most jaded of audience members. When it comes to on-stage parties, you don’t get more celebratory than this. The fact that the fantasy comes courtesy of a nostalgic trip back through musical time, is but an added bonus.