Phelan Groovy (Kurt Phelan)
Brisbane Powerhouse, Turbine Studio
December 1 – 3
One of the rules of cabaret is that it has no rules. This is certainly true of “Phelan Groovy”, given that over the course of its duration, musical theatre star Kurt Phelan takes audiences from anecdotes of his time onstage as Johnny Castle in “Dirty Dancing’ to a political campaign of Townsville truths to the tune or ‘Royals’, while dressed in a safari suit and thongs. Indeed, if you are looking for fun, then all is groovy here.
Recognisable songs of all sorts have their lyrics reappropriated in the cleverest and most memorable of ways throughout the show, from Les Miserable’s ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ to Frozen’s ‘Let it Go’. It’s not all musicals though as Phelan both belts out a sensational ‘Simply the Best’ and shares a bouncy Whitney/Dirty Dancing mashup. This show has something for everyone and you don’t have to know Australian divas Rhonda Burchmore and Debra Byrne to find the funny in his not always flattering but absolutely hilarious impersonations.
Phelan’s charisma is similarly on show in the between song banter about his career thus far, including comical stories of life growing up in North Queensland and fascinating tidbits about being employed as Prince Charming at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland.
Showing the versatility of his talent, he takes things to a serious place too, with an honest and moving tribute to he gone-too-soon Daniel Scott, the original Felicia for whom he understudied in “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, the piano-driven ‘A Thousand Miles’, so poignant and vulnerable as to bring some audience members to tears. The NIDA graduate has a wonderful voice and his impressive vocal technique and control are particularly showcased in this touching number. Regardless of tone, however, transitions between dialogue and song are all seamless, which helps the show maintain a packed pace.
“Phelan Groovy’ is a thoroughly entertaining and full-of-fun show from an energetic and talented performer who can tell a good story as much as sing a great song. With Luke Volker as pianist and provider of animal impressions, and an audience karaoke sing-along, what’s not to love?