Review by Nola Bartolo
Ten divas for the price of one! That’s right. TEN for the price of ONE very talented Diva. That is exactly what you get with Bernadette Robinson’s DIVAS. Robinson is exquisite, eloquent and tremendously precise in her channelling ten of, quite possibly, the best divas who have ever graced the stage. I would imagine that it would not have been an easy feat to just pick the ten that she did. Perhaps she could pick another ten for another show and another run? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps?
Robinson’s obviously opera trained voice can do anything. She belted out some big numbers and took on some big personalities who had more than just a big voice. Maria Callas, Dolly Parton, Amy Winehouse, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey, Kate Bush, Edith Piaf, Karen Carpenter and Miley Cyrus. All of these Divas have endured more than their fair share of drama and life lessons and without a shadow of a doubt have earned the right to be dubbed Divas.
Robinson’s performance was truly remarkable. This one woman show directed by Simon Phillips will have you singing along and bopping in your seats leaving you wanting more. The supporting band who comprised of Mark Jones on piano / keyboard, Jonathon Skovron on guitars / bass / keyboards and Graham Hunt on drums were fabulous and each musician brought with them their very own flair and passion. The stage was set with a colourful pop art style Instagram like grid backdrop of the DIVAS that Robinson portrayed, and the lighting was very effective in identifying which DIVA she was. That is, if you didn’t recognise through the music, the accent or the singing voice. Pretty hard not to as Robinson was flawless. I knew from the minute she took off her black suit jacket that she was becoming Dolly Parton. Robinson has an uncanny ability to bring to life ten larger than life performers and presents them in a way that if you closed your eyes, you would almost think that they were in fact singing and talking on the stage. I was mesmerised. Robinson was comical in her delivery and then so heartbreaking in other moments. Her range with her voice as well as her acting ability is mammoth. You feel all of the feels in this one and that’s just what music does. As Barbra Streisand or should I say Bernadette Robinson says during DIVAS ‘Music is a time stamp’, it immediately takes you back to that place, that time with that person and the emotions you felt then return. I know for myself that when Robinson was Streisand, and she sang ‘The Way We Were’ I was ugly crying with a smile on my face. Even as I think back to that moment, I can feel the emotion welling up within. That is the power of music and the undeniable power that Bernadette Robinson brings to this very entertaining show. What was clear during the show was that each DIVA talked about how most of if not all of their problems and dramas could not keep them from singing in front of an audience. That the connection that each one had with their audience and the love they felt on stage from their audience was what freed them.
Please, if you love live music then you mustn’t miss this show. Bernadette Robinson’s DIVAS is on at the Playhouse at the Sydney Opera House till August 20. You will not regret it. I really encourage you to support and experience a woman who deserved the standing ovation she received on opening night. Bernadette Robinson is a DIVA!