Review By Alice Mooney
Cabaretica brings a glamourous trio of performers as well as an extremely talented team of musicians and producers to breathe life back into La Mama theatre after a turbulent twelve months of uncertainty. Co-creators Susan Bamford Caleo and Isabel Knight produced an outstanding live performance featuring the Maude Davey, Willow Sizer and Mama Alto. The show begins when you arrive at the charming La Mama theatre where Susan and Isabel greet you with complimentary bubbles. The atmosphere was buzzing with this being the first of many returns to theatre for the arriving flurry of audience members.
Maude Davey as MC launches the show with a high energy set list getting the audiences energies racing. Racking my brain to work out where I’d seen her before, as well as an impressing stage career in Burlesque and other plays, it was her brief but treasured performance as Ms. Palmer in Summer Heights High that I recognised her. This is a testament to her impressive range as a performer where her charismatic and bold MC style couldn’t be more different. Davey commands the stage in a 1930’s style pinstripe suit paired with her impressive earthy vocals.
Willow Sizer is excellent. She has certainly gained herself many new fans after a stunning performance showcasing an invigorating show tune voice. The songs will stay in your head for days after. For it was an energetic Judy Garland style performance of ‘get happy’ but I also must mention her moving original dedication to Britney Spears that was moody and raw. The accompanying pianist lifts all her songs and acts as a centre piece both visually and audibly. Sizer finishes and Mama Alto enters as they pass the baton with a beautiful duet.
Wow. Mama Alto, another performance extremely different from the previous. Mama Alto moves about the stage with delicacy and grace, while melting the audience with her incredible voice. Every musical number stood out from the previous in a carefully curated set list with a balanced mix of tempos. It was easy to see that the audience were greatly moved by her sultry voice and penetrative tones. I will be following Mama Alto’s up and coming performances to get my hit of dopamine and good vibes. It was enjoyable to watch her pianist William play around with different outros of a classic song.
The set design is sweet, understated, a little random in choice of lamps but overall did not compete for focus from the performers. There was one pendent light that was particularly piercing in its brightness and while this is a tedious critique, it did have an effect on me as someone who is fairly light sensitive. Upstage, the drapery breaks up and softens the space, but I would have liked to see a warmer colour used. Each performer wrangled with the microphone wire and additional wires on the stage, which gave it a ‘rehearsal’ vibe but also drew some focus. The Davey, Sizer and Mama Alto at centre stage were always in sight however and as MC, Davey utilised the space with multiple crowd entries which would have been even better with a follow spot. Overall the set designs harmony had little baring on the performances and only lacked in visual warmth.
The piece of the evening was Mama Alto’s rich and emotional rendition of Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World that brought both tears and laughter to the crowd on a wave of much needed positivity. In this current climate, cabaret performance is now more powerful than ever as we look to participate in the genres of performance that cannot and should not be digitised. And Cabaretica reminds us all of the energy and benefits of live performance.