Belle of the ball

This Girl (Rachael Beck)

QPAC, Cremorne Theatre

October 28 – 29

When Rachael Beck tells story of having to kiss Hugh Jackman on stage each night for a year when playing Belle in “Beauty and Beast”, it would be easy to dismiss her as unapproachable… apart from the fact that everything about the Australian leading lady is so endearing. This is just one of the many anecdotes that tie together “This Girl”, Beck’s autobiographical cabaret show of song, stories and laughs, that shares the same name as her first solo album

Beginning with question about if we know who she is, Beck is charming as she journeys audiences through all range of musical genres as she dissects her career and life thus far, accompanied on piano by one of Australia’s leading musical directors and composers Max Lambert. Musical numbers make appearance of course in reminder of her major career roles and the show features standards from “Chicago” and “Wicked” alongside lesser-known works from “Next to Normal” and “Songs For A New World’, with Beck bringing fresh life to every one thanks to her sublime vocals.

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In balance to the pep of the musical numbers, highlights include the poignant ‘I Honestly Love You’ and ‘Send in the Clowns’, a song that not only shows her appreciation of the magic of the relationship between words and music, but comes with story of its influence on her intent to pursue a career in the arts. This early show recollection of her days on the thriving Lismore Eisteddfod scene before, at just 15, she took on the role of Rumpleteazer in “Cats” for its Melbourne premiere, also features, a wonderful recreation of her competition number as Sesame Street’s The Count, complete with cape for effect.

“This Girl” not only reflects Beck’s diverse tastes and musical experiences, but showcases her versatility as a performer, featuring as it does, songs from Bob Dylan to Kate Bush and even a bit of opera as tribute to her “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” co-start David Hobson. Always, her vocals soar beautifully and her ability to hold note in the concluding ‘Cabaret’ and encore “Halleluiah” is quite astonishing.

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“This Girl” is perfectly curated to take audiences on a tour of Rachael Beck’s life and career, weaved together by personal anecdotes, musical memories and a lot of laughs, largely courtesy of a performance as dancing partner to a leading man from the audience.

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And it seems like she is having a ball too, such is her genuine demeanour and interaction with the audience. As Beck states at its conclusion, the intimacy of the Cremorne Theatre venue makes it feel like the audience is in her lounge room. And it feel like that for audience members too with its 70 minutes simply flying by in awe of her outstanding talent.

Photos c/o – Darren Thomas

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