By Regan Baker
Roll up, roll up! The Courier Mail Spiegeltent is in full swing this Brisbane Festival with a line-up of amazing entertainment across the next four weeks, and this evening was no exception! After a sell-out performance last night of Blanc De Blanc Encore, I’m back at the tent for Swing on This.
Formed initially for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival back in 2014, Swing on This saw five of Australia’s best screen, stage and vocal talents combine for what was supposed to be a one-night-only headline performance. So popular was their show, however, that they have been in demand ever since and have now played to sold out audiences across the country – time, and time again. With Rob Mills absent, the quartet of Michael Falzon (We Will Rock You, Rock of Ages), Luke Kennedy (The Voice, The Ten Tenors), Matt Lee (Mary Poppins, Hugh Jackman’s The Boy From Oz) and Ben Mingay (Dirty Dancing, An Officer and a Gentleman) have made the trip to Brisbane for five shows only.
Unfortunately, for the calibre of performance that was on offer, the Spiegeltent was a less than ideal venue and the lack of assigned seating wreaked havoc during the start of the show. So much so, that even Mingay cracked a bit of a sarcastic glance at his watch as dozens of late arrivals were ushered into the tent while the festival staff had to shine torches to try and find available seats. As is common etiquette anyway, I would highly recommend arriving as early as possible to ensure you secure a reasonable position in the queue, as being at the back of the line means you will face the reality of a seat situated directly behind a tent post with limited, to no view.
The music, the atmosphere and the performance, however, were absolutely worthwhile with the boys filling the small tent with their incredible vocals. Performing a range of hit swing classics such as, ‘Feelin’ Good’, ‘My Way’, ‘New York, New York’, ‘Mack the Knife’, and so many more, the boys were here to put on a show, and what a show it was.
Their voices were all brilliantly superb, and their range of different registers blended nicely across every song they performed – whether it be as a duo, quartet or as a solo piece.
Brisbane’s very own Luke Kennedy appeared to be the house favourite and as always, remained true to tone with his outstanding tenor. Mingay oozed charisma and charm as he performed and his energy and fun on stage translated through his amazing voice. Lee stole the hearts of many with his beautiful rendition of the Sammy Davis Jr. classic, ‘Mr Bojangles’, while also surprising the audience with a bit of tap dancing as well. The highest accolade of the evening however, has to go to Michael Falzon, who is an exceptionally good singer at the best of times, let alone the fact that this was his first performance back on stage since undergoing intense chemotherapy after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer earlier this year. The cancer forced Falzon to withdraw from several productions throughout the year, but that was not going to stop him from getting back on stage in Brisbane where he lived throughout his high school years and early adult life.
The show was as good as sold out and for very good reasons, though I just wish it had gone for longer. While being advertised as a 70-minute show on the Brisbane Festival website, the performance in actuality ran for just shy of 60-minutes.
Be ready to groove when you arrive, as there is no sitting still for this performance. You’ll be singing and dancing in your seat and will love every second of Swing on This.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.