Review: A Very, Very Good Variety Show at Downstairs at the Maj

Review by Tatum Stafford


Raucous energy, infectious laughter and above all, incredible musical talent was on full display at Friday night’s packed performance of ‘A Very, Very Good Variety Show’ presented by the Perth Cabaret Collective.


Right off the bat it was clear this team of musicians has a genuine comradery and support for one another. The opening instrumental number was punctuated by whoops and cheers from neighbouring musicians as featured soloists wailed and riffed with captivating musicality. Jess Herbert, who plays baritone sax and also serves as the band’s musical director, has done a formidable job bringing these talented musicians together, and fostering such incredible performances from each individual band member.


The band supported each of the evening’s solo vocalists perfectly, and each transition from song to song, or act to act, was seamless. The first vocalist was Mark Turner, who has an absolutely glorious voice and a stage presence that is impossible to tear your eyes away from. The effervescent Mia Matthiessen was up next, and also displayed incredible, effortless vocal ability.


Local award-winning drag queen Cougar Morrison was a clear crowd favourite of the night, and opened their set with a hilarious take on “Gorgeous” from The Apple Tree. Cougar is known for their biting humour, and luckily, Friday night’s crowd were game and ready to laugh.


Local burlesque icons Vercua Sour and Lucy Lovegun provided plenty of comic relief in their individual solo acts and hilarious lip syncing duo to the classic “Anything You Can Do” (sung by Turner and Matthiessen).


Other setlist highlights included Mia Matthiessen’s beautifully haunting acapella intro in Ella Fitzgerald’s “Willow Weep for Me”, Cougar Morrison’s rompy “Hey Big Spender” with backup dance support from Veruca and Lucy, and Mark’s lilting vocals on the classic “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”. The show ended with a bang as the cast and band joined forces for a joyful rendition of “Le Jazz Hot” from Victor/Victoria.


Don’t let this show’s name fool you – this was much more than a very, very good show. It was absolutely fantastic, and the perfect display of how much musical talent we have right here in Perth. If you see the name ‘Perth Cabaret Collective’ on an upcoming theatre program, or in the annual Fringe show list, don’t hesitate to grab yourself a ticket and enjoy a night of hilarity, flair and incredible music.


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