MEDIA 2002


The Daily Telegraph
Troy Lennon
15 November 2002

The show is called Enda Markey -- By Popular Demand, which suggests that the star is popular. But who, you might ask, is Enda Markey? If his career so far is anything to go by, more people may soon want to find out.

Markey is an Irish-born entertainer who left his home town of Dublin at 16 to make his name in London. He landed in Townsville in 1999 and immediately fell in love with Australia.

"I loved it so much I came back to promote my first album last year,'' says Markey.

After a successful gig at the Chapel off Chapel in Melbourne he decided to make that town his permanent home base.

He came with an impressive CV. His professional stage debut was at age 11 when he appeared at the Abbey Theatre in Wales in Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas. He then won a scholarship to the Laine Theatre College in London, moving there on his own at the tender age of 16.

He did the usual round of musicals like West Side Story, Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar, before his breakthrough role in the Heather Brothers tribute to the '60s A Slice of Saturday Night in the West End. He later became the youngest person to headline a production of Side By Side by Sondheim at the age of 19.

"A little lady in Side by Side called Rebecca Storm took me under her wing and I toured around a bit with her. My profile started to get higher and higher.''

Then he came to Australia and he is hardly known. He jokes the problem might be his accent. However Markey is not sitting around waiting for offers or someone looking for an Irish singer to turn into a star.
His current project, his cabaret act By Popular Demand, and the accompanying live CD, gets its name from his potentially risky ploy to get his fans to vote on what numbers go in the show.

People from all over the world voted and eventually his set comprised everything from Jacques Brel to David Bowie with stops at Sondheim and Kander and Ebb.

"When I got here people were going, 'Why's it called By Popular Demand, nobody's ever heard of you?' '' He plans to change that.











Sydney Morning Herald
Troy Lennon
10 September 2002

Peter Cousens has pondered at many levels whether he is a singer-actor or actor-singer. Performers need to make the choice to hone one artform, usually to the neglect of the other.

"I've always thought of myself as an actor-singer but the last few years it's really been a singer-actor,'' he says.

At the moment he is doing a lot of singing, the last purely acting gig was McLeod's Daughters.
Cousens says he tends not to differentiate between acting and singing.

"Generally when I sing I perform as though it is not that far away from an acting piece.''

In cabaret, for instance, he concentrates on communicating meaning rather than simply singing.

"In singing the songs the performer needs to reveal something of themselves. That's the point of cabaret really, being as communicative to an audience as you can,'' he says.

In his act he sings not only show tunes but also tunes that are "a bit more personal, about relationships and family and children''.

Cousens is also exploring the relationship between acting and singing outside of his performances. He is writing an essay to convert his NIDA diploma into a BA, on how an actor's skills relate to singing.
He says the individual needs to make a personal link to the song, even if it means compromising on the beauty of the tune.

"I'd rather hear a less perfect sound and better acting,'' he says.












Sydney Morning Herald
John Shand
10 September 2002

John Lennon once called it the "tee hee, it's not me" factor, and there's nothing like the misfortune of others to put a smile on one's face, is there? Well, not quite. Neil Armfield has observed how the theatre teaches us to empathise. Whatever the case, an audience can take home a grim vision of the world and nurture it as a good night out.

In devising this show, director Jim Sharman settled upon the songs of Lou Reed, Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht and Randy Newman. All enjoy a bleak outlook, tempered by irony and wry - or, sometimes with Newman, gut-busting - humour.

It was like lifting the skirts of cabaret and peeking at what lies beneath the cuteness, feyness and whimsicality of a Broadway best-of. At Sharman's disposal were singers Amie McKenna and David Hawkins, with musical direction and accompaniment from Alan "Eighth Wonder" John.

Reed's Berlin (Hawkins) topped and tailed the show, setting the mood for the ensuing barrage of lust, disappointment, tragedy and thumbing of one's nose at a world gone mad, engaging both head and heart.

Hawkins's reading of Walk on the Wild Side shrugged aside coyness in favour of a smouldering intensity. McKenna delivered an eerie Candy Says with staring, Raphaelesque eyes, to which Hawkins responded with the gritty Street Hassle. One of Reed's masterpieces, Perfect Day, was brought to life by McKenna with a disquieting blend of detachment and passion, for which John's piano was an orchestra of drama and possibilities.

In Brecht and Weill's Alabama Song, McKenna conveyed a numbing sense of desperation, while Mack the Knife was reborn - or rather delivered by caesarean section - in such a tortured drama of black humour by Hawkins as to unsettle elements of the audience. McKenna gripped Surabaya Johnny and bled the dichotomy between the verses and the refrain for all it was worth - each refrain beginning in a contralto as soothing as a swing in a hammock. There was of course the inevitable rendition of Newman's Short People and then McKenna squeezed the marrow from In Germany Before the War, while John alternated between thunder and fine mist.

The craziness took hold with Rednecks (Hawkins) and Political Science (McKenna), the latter, with such lines as "Let's drop the big one and see what happens", having a certain topicality.












The Daily Telegraph
Vanessa McCausland
7 September 2002

There's more than a bit of cabaret going on in Sydney at the moment. The Kit Kat Klub is simmering away at the State Theatre, while in Bondi, above a pizza parlour at Kabarett Junction, the real thing is spilling its guts and belting out pseudo-political and social statements to the tune of Lou Reed, Brecht-Weill and Randy Newman.

The performance is orchestrated by Jim Sharman, director of the original Rocky Horror Picture Show, Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. Sharman's projects have often started out in small, cosy venues, only to grow from there. He has hand-picked NIDA graduate Amie McKenna, who appeared in his staging of Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill.

Kabarett Junction founder David Hawkins will take a break from the musical production Shout! to strut his stuff in Sharman's gig.

Hawkins is pleased that his recently opened venue, one of only a handful of cabaret bars in Sydney, has attracted such a powerful backing.

Mirroring the strange spelling of Kabarett, Sharman's musical line-up is an attempt to get back to the Germanic origins of cabaret as a socio-political medium during the Weimer regime, says Hawkins. He admits the tumultuous state of the world today is responsible for the waning of the days of the Nancye Hayes style of wonderfully joyful, light cabaret.

Instead, he sees the future of the form in ``the other side of cabaret that really wants to say something and get a message across''.

"To pay $30 and be told the world's all good and fabulous and rose coloured glasses, you'd just come out thinking what a load of shit. People want words, they want substance.''

Whom better to turn to than the 1970s ballad masters, with their epic anthems like Walk on the Wildside, songs from Lou Reed's Warhol years, the Brecht-Weill Weimar period, Short People and Mack the Knife.
Parody and satire are the mainstay of the cabaret genre and the tools of social reflection, says Hawkins.
Boundaries can be pushed because people are chilling out, eating and drinking rather than having the heavy layed on them in a serious theatre.

With the director of Rocky Horror at the helm, we can certainly expect something out of the ordinary.















Sydney Morning Herald
Jonathon Pearlman
6 September 2002

A small stage above a suburban pizza parlour might seem an unusual platform to sing the songs of the misfits and outcasts of 20th-century Berlin, New York and Los Angeles. But Jim Sharman, who set Don Giovanni on a chessboard and The Tempest in Bali, has never regarded himself as a custodian of theatrical traditions.

"I'm not interested in conventional cabaret," he says. "I'm not interested in conventional anything." Sharman, whose credits include Hair and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, had long toyed with the idea of bringing together the songs of Kurt Weill, Lou Reed and Randy Newman.

But it wasn't until a visit to Bondi Junction's Kabarett Junction that Sharman believed he had found a suitably unconventional home for his unconventional show (which doesn't have a precise name).

"It's a little, mysterious venue in an unlikely part of town," says Sharman. "It's an anonymous place that fitted the show's material."

A director who has filled the Sydney Opera House and theatres on London's West End might be expected to scoff at devising a show for a 70-person hall above a restaurant in a pedestrian mall. But Sharman says
the venue and the music are ideal partners.

"This is where all that kind of material was made. Brecht and Weill's music came out of cabarets in Berlin, Lou Reed came out of Max's in New York City and Randy Newman came from small clubs in Los Angeles." Sharman says he was drawn to the three songwriters selected by their common quest to give a voice to society's misfits.

"There's a level of poetry in what Weill, Reed and Newman do," he says. "They didn't write songs about themselves. They all wrote for other people whose experiences were not their own."

Sharman seems to have an instinctive sympathy for lending a hand to the dispossessed. He even professes to having been attracted to Kabarett Junction by the character of its manager and founder, David Hawkins.

"When I first met David, he reminded me of the harassed theatre manager in Shakespeare in Love," Sharman says.

The cabaret hall, which hosted its first show 12 months ago, was discovered by Hawkins when he went searching upstairs for a toilet while waiting for dinner at Arthur's Pizza.

Hawkins, who has sung with St Andrews' Cathedral Choir and Opera Australia, performs alongside NIDA graduate Amie McKenna, who worked with Sharman in Berlin to Broadway.

Hawkins warns that the 22-song, 70-minute show may disappoint those expecting a saucy, high-kicking spectacular (the songs are roughly equally divided between Hawkins and McKenna).

"It definitely isn't a normal cabaret act," says Hawkins. "It doesn't have people jumping around singing and shouting. It's simple and direct and lyrically driven."

The Weill songs are taken from the three operas written with Bertolt Brecht during the 1920s and are filled with images of gangsters and outlaws, reviving the ghosts of "criminal misfits who don't have a voice
of their own".

"Jim is nuts about Kurt Weill," says Hawkins. "The translations he has found for this show are amazing."

The Lou Reed songs, including I'll Be Your Mirror, Walk on the Wild Side, Perfect Day and Street Hassle, feature the drag queens and characters from the Andy Warhol factory era.

"Lou was the voice, the commentator, while Andy was the one doing the images," Hawkins says.

The Randy Newman tunes, such as Short People and God's Song, are ironic, bittersweet anthems which both celebrate and deride American rednecks and small towners.

"Randy has a go at the small people of society while speaking on their behalf," Hawkins says. "It's heavy stuff, but it's lightened by the beautiful music."

Hawkins claims that the content suited his "glamorously suburban" venue, which is supposed to fuse political and social satire in the tradition of the original German kabarett.

For Sharman, the unlikely venue is no barrier to achieving his lofty theatrical aims. "All I can ask from putting on a theatrical experience like this is that the viewer goes out different to the way they came in," he says. "It
doesn't matter whether you work in palaces or pizza parlours."











Sydney Morning Herald
John Shand
19 June 2002

The term cabaret has represented, and continues to represent, a wealth of diversity. There was the racy German prewar variety, a more jazz-based American style, the widespread recycling of songs from the shows of Broadway and the West End, and a trend towards tunes near or from the pop world of the past 40 years.

Among all those strands is a dark one that stretches from the songs of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht to those of Jacques Brel and on to some of the output of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and David Bowie.

It is to this highly theatrical, decidedly camp and somewhat sinister linage that David Hawkins - "The Hawk" - tends to align himself in Nom de Plume. (Bowie's Space Oddity is a cleverly integrated recurring motif, while his All The Young Dudes also gets a work-out.)

A sense of Nom de Plume as a coherent show rather than a diverse assemblage of songs emerged more strongly in the second act than the first.

Here the way the material fitted together was fastidiously sculpted by Hawkins and his writing collaborator, Wednesday Kennedy. It also allowed the range of Hawkins's skills as a performer to explode to the fore. There had been an edginess about his delivery as he worked almost too hard in the first act. Now the softer moments became at least as compelling as the exuberant ones.

Kander and Ebb's I Don't Care Much was a pinnacle that proved just what Hawkins is capable of with his big, lustrous voice and brooding intensity. The drama here was all the more effective for following a fragile reading of Seeger and Hickerson's Where Have All the Flowers Gone.

If more of the vulnerability that one suspects lies behind Hawkins's edginess was allowed to surface, the performance could be more compelling still. He zealously maintained eye contact with individual members of the audience, yet that connection could have greater potency if we were allowed inside more and were confronted less.

One of the joys of cabaret is its intimacy, yet this performance often seemed geared for a larger stage.

Hawkins was ably and enthusiastically accompanied by Andrew Warboys at the piano, often adding vibrant harmonies to Hawkins's vocal power.










Daily Telegraph
Troy Lennon
8 June 2002

There's cabaret and then there's kabarett. The difference is not just in the spelling, according to "kabarett" artist David Hawkins, also know as "The Hawk".

"In Germany, cabaret is burlesque and strip shows. Kabarett with a 'k' and a double 't' at the end is political and social satire," says Hawkins.

His show, which has played to packed houses at other cabaret/kabarett venues such as Annandale's Side On Cafe, has an emphasis on satire and fits roughly into the kabarett category.

New material is constantly added to the show. The script, co-written with Wednesday Kennedy - "she's great for cabaret, she's got that cut in her writing, she's quite vicious" - is kept fresh to reflect current events.

Hawkins says it is not so much "just getting up and doing a bunch of ratty old show tunes".

"I've tried to bring in quite a bit of modern influence - David Bowie, Lou Reed - to get that commentary on the human predicament," he says.

Although Bowie doesn't sound like the conventional cabaret (or even kabarett) fare, Hawkins says it works very well. "They're like ballads. I do Space Oddity and All the Young Dudes," he says. "Bowie is obviously right into piano because he really writes amazing piano parts. So they adapt quite well."

Apart from glam rock, he also incorporates elements of jazz and "music from the [German] Weimar Republic", in particular the songs of Brecht and Weill.

"It's incredible when you do those old songs from the Weimar days and people get them like they were written yesterday. I find that amazing," Hawkins says. "And they're just as shocking. You go 'Ooh, I shouldn't be saying that', and they're from the '20s."

Hawkins does throw in some show tunes, but from the likes of Kander and Ebb's darkly comic Chicago. "It's definitely showy, but I suppose the Bowie stuff's got more of a show edge, and the show stuff's got more of a Bowie edge," he says.

His style certainly deviates from many definitions of cabaret. But Hawkins resists any attempts to categorise cabaret - or kabarett, for that matter. "People always say that cabaret is on the wane, but it's just that it's a fringe artform," he says.

"People get really confused. I think that cabaret should just be anything performed in front of people sitting at tables drinking and eating, whether it be a play, comedy or singing. That's where cabaret has fallen into a lot of traps, where people try to box it into music theatre divas singing show tunes."

Hawkins says one major challenge is making cabaret groovy enough to capture a young audience. "Shows that talk about current issues, that are funny or offbeat, are the ones that are getting the younger audiences," he says.









The Sydney Morning Herald
John Shand
16 April 2002

Faith Winthrop had never performed in Australia before, and was not expecting to break her duck now, either. The opportunity arose because this brilliant American singer happened to be in the country on a diving and sightseeing holiday for which the audience crammed into the buzzing intimacy of Kabarett Junction will be very grateful.

Winthrop has been singing since the early 1950s. In the 1970s family commitments obliged a long spell from treading the boards, during which she established a reputation as an exemplary teacher, her students including Al Jarreau and Keanu Reeves. On the evidence of this performance, someone should be urgently bringing her back here for a full tour and some master- classes. There is no short cut to her 50 years of experience and its benefits radiated from her on-stage ease and from every note.

Winthrop began her career as a jazz singer. That she has been born again as a cabaret artist in the wake of her performing hiatus probably says more about perceptions than anything else.

True enough, her repertoire for this show took in the cabaret staples of Sondheim and the effervescent wit of her own songs. But when she scatted over the ending of Lover Man, for instance, one was witnessing jazz singing of the highest calibre.

On top of that Winthrop had the magical ability to convince each listener she was singing directly to them, whether sparkling her way through an unforgettable reading of Jitterbug Waltz or mooning through what she charmingly called "dysfunctional love songs".











The Sydney Morning Herald
John Shand
20 May 2002

Unfamiliarity with the name of John Bucchino should not be allowed to add to any sense of inadequacy one might already be feeling. Bucchino is an American songwriter whose fame is latent rather than extant.

It is, however, steadily creeping. His works have been performed by Judy Collins, Liza Minnelli, Michael Feinstein, Barbara Cook, Art Garfunkel, Patti LuPone and our own David Campbell, among others, and no less a doyen of the art form than Stephen Sondheim is apparently something of a mentor.

In Australia to deliver some master classes, Bucchino has added a few cabaret appearances to his itinerary, accompanying himself at the piano on an array of his songs. What sets his work apart is an intriguing ability to have one foot in the great Broadway tradition of Berlin/Porter/Rodgers/Sondheim, and another in what we might call the ``intelligent pop" tradition of such diverse composers as Carole King, Randy Newman and Elvis Costello.

"It's a lonely thing to write songs," he said. "You sit in a little room and dredge up stuff." The dredged material could be engaging stories about little heroes facing life-sized crises, or witty ditties about the absurdities of being an artist, of growing older or of having relationships. One of the strongest, Temporary (from the barely aired musical Urban Myths "Some people in Wichita, Kansas, heard it"), had the outlandish setting of a mother flushing her son's baby alligator down the toilet, but was a touching lament about the ephemeral nature of life and its contents. Very much in the Broadway tradition came Leavin' Town from Lavender Girl, a short musical he wrote as part of a trilogy, 3hree, assembled by famed producer/director Hal Prince.

Not primarily a performer, Bucchino was able to offer adequate renditions of his compositions while being amply entertaining with his patter. If his voice toiled somewhat in a no-man's-land between Costello's and a leaner version of that owned by the chap who used to call himself Cat Stevens, the no-frills honesty of the delivery obliged the songs to stand or fall on their merits, and they were standing tall by the end of the night.










Revolver Magazine
Ruby Boukabou

"Now, where else in the world are you going to see cabaret's tallest artist and America's greatest playwright on the same stage, hmmm??"

There's some fascinating news in the Cabaret World: Jenny Vuletic (the former party above) and Tennessee Williams (the latter party above) are the same person! The reasons are numerous: their mothers had the same reaction to their directions in theatre, they both come from south west (America/ Australia) and it's a great premise for a show by the irresistible mind and voice of Vuletic.

At the cosy Kabarett Junction in Bondi Junction, a glitzed Vuletic sets about convincing us that she's Tennessee- stating the facts, crooning the proof. Both her and Tennessee had a sense of being 'different' which becomes the theme of the show- she tells us how it's important to turn difference to positive charm rather than hiding it or hating it. In this fist act, Vuletic reveals us her world both honestly and with humour. The head of NIDA told her that she'd be "hard to cast for Juliet- if you know what I mean," instead she has played authority figures, police, truck drivers and post op transgender (which leads her into a gutsy rendition of Lady Marmalaide's 'Voulez vous coucher avec moi'). She tells us of her childhood, recounting her bond with her Croatian grandfather "we spoke fluent outsider" and her devastation on witnessing his shop being burnt to the ground because of his nationality (then creeps into an unexpected "Burning Down! the House" with flavour of the month Matt Whittet). Despite her mother's first preferences of her becoming an opera singer (and is a great chance to rip into high and furious while satirical opera), she has gone her own path and must. It is warming.

For the second Act, Vuletic is absent yet a familiar looking Tennessee Williams appears to tell his story: getting his first writing commissions, moving to New York, getting on the scene, drinking, writing, dating.. the flow between numbers is smoother than Act One and this act truly enchants us. Vuletic's versatility is wonderful, she seduces us with Vince Jones' 'Drinking Again' and sinks into blues, accompanied by a fearsome Daryl Wallis on piano. These last numbers have everyone swaying in their chairs, looking but glazing and thinking, why is there not more Cabaret, why is Jenny Vuletic not doing more shows?

The only downfall of the show is that afterwards we are swept briskly out of the venue. With the enchanted bubble Vuletic so expertly created, it's a shock to be out in a cold Bondi Mall and not drinking red wine,
mingling, discussing the shows and meeting strangers.


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