Review by Matthew Hocter
It’s been a long time since I have been in Australia, an even longer time since I have lived in Adelaide. Both of these things are purely by circumstance, but also have a bearing when writing about Australian artists and their craft(s). Why? Because I have so much damn catching up to do! This catching up has been the most glorious of things and also at times challenging, but always an incredibly delight to see what my fellow Australians are creating and performing. One such glorious moment was the opening night of Hugh Sheridan’s latest venture; HUGHMAN, a delectable journey through dance, decks and overall deliciousness.
Running from Rhonda Burchmore’s Glamazonia show at The Regal Theatre (I know, I’m camp AS), I got there just as Sheridan finished proposing to his partner, but in perfect time to strut up to my seat to George Michael’s “Freedom.” Anyone that plays ANYTHING by George Michael allowing for me to make an entrance, immediately has my attention. It didn’t stop there though. As the dancers each came out onto the stage, showcasing their talents which included Irish dance, Roller skating and contemporary dance to name a few, Sheridan sat atop the stage on DJ decks spinning some fine classics that ranged from Diana Ross to Chaka Khan and everyone else in between, the high energy dance extravaganza had the packed to the rafters Moa auditorium with barely a bum on a seat.
As Inner City’s “Good Life” pumped through the open air theatre, the energy and vibe that was being transmitted was nothing short of euphoric. People dancing, clapping and singing along to their favourite music was something we have not experienced en masse for what seems like an eternity.
Joined on stage throughout the night by his five dancers, Sheridan regularly left the decks to join them, many times shimmying to not just the music permeating from the speakers, but also the likes of the flute and saxophone being played live, bringing back a sound that was so prevalent in the late 90’s club scene.
Continuing this joyous journey down the anthemic musical lane, Sheridan brought the exceedingly talented r&b/pop/soul Princess Stevens to the stage. As Stevens belted out Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” sending the already buzzing crowd into a frenzy, I couldn’t help but think how grateful I was to see so many people dancing, smiling and freeing themselves to the music and vibe that had encapsulated us all.
As Sheridan fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a catwalk model with the “Camilla’s,” a reference to his dancers and the shows gorgeous bespoke outfits provided by Australian designer Camilla Frank, the penultimate song of the night might just have also been the ultimate song to end the fabulosity that is HUGHMAN. As “Xanadu” pumped out of the speakers, all the dancers assembled on stage, surrounding Sheridan, Stevens and friends for one last boogie before Sheridan brought it down a notch by leaning into some Jazz standards and thanking his adoring audience.
HUGHMAN was the gift that kept on giving. Unabashedly free in its inclusivity and diversity, Sheridan and friends delivered over an hour of pure nonstop fun that became the show that no one saw coming, let alone the fact that it was and is the show everyone needs to experience, more than once if possible.