Review by Carly Fisher
It’s December 4 1933 and we are just an hour from the end of Prohibition. Set against this contextual backdrop, Gladys, the owner of the Tipsy Sparrow, has invited us in to toast the last 14 years, the figures that made it memorable and the songs written to celebrate and/or commemorate the event that has changed the face of America, Prohibition.
Melanie Gall assumes the role of Gladys. No stranger to the cabaret stage, the Canadian singer instantly looks completely at home on the stage at The Jade. This is one of the lesser spoken about venues of the Fringe but it is so gorgeous that my advice would be to definitely ensure that you catch some shows there too - it is often the stand alone/lesser known venues like this that have the most spirit.
The dancers and circus acts that have become commonplace in the speakeasys are away tonight and we are instead focused only on the musical stylings of Soprano, Gall. Running her own tech and accompaniment from her phone on stage, Gall is clearly an experienced fringe performer and her comfortability on stage in this environment reads clearly.
Gall has a strong voice with a lovely Soprano range. The history infused through this cabaret performance was interesting and well delivered, so I thoroughly appreciated that. At an hour’s run time, the show was too long simply because there was too much repetition in the earlier half of the show. Many of the prohibition era songs have a similar tone and melody and as such, there is not a huge amount of vocal differentiation to be able to show off here. Despite the lack of variety, the core demographic at which this show is aimed seemed to enjoy singing along to the
songs that they remembered and learning more about the songs that they had not heard. I appreciated Gall’s attention to detail in the presentation of historical facts and the work done to ensure that songs that there were less familiar were included.
Unfortunately the structure of the show fell, much like the similarity in melodies, to the same fate. With a toast between almost every song, the narrative structure could use a tighten to continue to remain engaging through the hour. Also, I would strongly recommend taking drinks into the show with you - though in the title, I must admit that I had not considered how focused the show would be on toasting and who wants to be the one person left without a drink?! So, take a glass or two in with you at the start of the show to really get involved and enjoy!
Despite my love of history, I think this was one I may have just been too far out of the demographic of to really be able to fall in love with the piece. I would however love to see more from Gall in the future to get more of a showcase of her vocal ability and variety - I have a feeling that this is a talent with a lot more to show.