MEDIA 2003


December 10, 2003  The Sydney Morning Herald

Reviewed by Bryce Hallett

In recent years Maggie Kirkpatrick, a fine character actress, has inhabited a number of rich stage roles, most memorably the robust Mag in Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane and the cajoling literary agent Peggy Ramsay in Peggy for You.

Kirkpatrick is a wonderfully assured and intuitive performer when she's getting under the skin of another character and, arguably, more at home doing so than when stripped bare, so to speak, in cabaret.

Her biographical show, Still Here, is largely a reworking of an earlier effort unleashed at the Tilbury in 1997 - an amiable entertainment combining showbiz anecdotes, upbeat and downbeat songs, and a down-to-earth, deprecating humour.

Although there wasn't a large audience to bounce off at Kabarett Voltaire, Kirkpatrick still manages to sparkle in her best moments, most of which have little to do with the quality of her singing - limited and patchy - and a lot to do with the dent of her personality - strong and engaging.

At 62, Kirkpatrick is a seasoned performer, a trouper in every sense, and Still Here charts some of the peaks and troughs and her efforts to make a name for herself, if only everyone else would cotton on.

Though not a great singer by any stretch, she manages to get into the heart of a lyric through her timing and understated delivery. Her version of The Girls In Our Town, prefaced by her recollections about hanging out with the cool crowd in Newcastle, is simply and touchingly evoked. The musical director, Andrew Ross, achieves subtle and effective accompaniment on piano, and adds considerably to the show's overall pace and mood shifts.

Still Here is a modest and unpretentious cabaret - a hotchpotch that could do with some stories about her more recent stage experiences and a deeper insight into what makes her tick.

Kirkpatrick does, however, tell a couple of amusing audition tales - a ritual she dreads to this day - and how at one point she seemed destined to play hostesses on the musical stage. Once, when she sought Bernard King's sage advice about how to approach a part, he advised: "You talk loud, so do it like Ethel [Merman]!"

Kirkpatrick reveals her fondness and respect for drag queens and their illusion-making tricks, and one of the best stories relates how she was asked to step in at the last moment to perform alongside Carlotta - not only that, but to mime to Geraldine Turner.

It wouldn't be a Kirkpatrick show if her well-known role as The Freak on the TV series Prisoner wasn't alluded to in one form or another, and she doesn't disappoint on that score. Donning black leather gloves, she deftly conveys the tit-for-tat wile of When You're Good to Mama from Kander and Ebb's musical vaudeville Chicago.

"The folks atop the ladder/are the ones the world adores/so boost me up my ladder, kid/and I'll boost you up yours." With her acting instincts at the fore, Kirkpatrick makes the song thrilling and clear.

The performer introduces a running gag in the show's second half as if to suggest her acting career is again at a low ebb, but somehow you know that Kirkpatrick, whatever the snubs and missed opportunities, is a hardy, generous soul who's most definitely "still here" and anything but washed up.

Her outlook and final song, Young at Heart, say as much.















Sydney Star Observer

By Tim Benzie

Maggie Kirkpatrick explains after her first number that she's not a terrific singer, and has always had a tiny range. She says this with the wry grin she flashes a lot during the show, the smile of a woman who's seen a lot and is still able to laugh it all off.

It's a perfect way to pitch the show. Kirkpatrick will always be best known for playing sadistic prison officer Ferguson (nicknamed the Freak) from television's Prisoner, but has more than acquitted herself as a serious actor starring with almost every major theatre company in the country. She's also starred in a number of musicals (including Anything Goes) so she's no amateur, but has the experience to confess her limitations and poke gentle fun at them.

The show itself is an update and rejigger from a previous showing at the old Tilbury (then entitled The Screw Is Loose), with a great selection of tunes chosen by David Mitchell, solid accompaniment by Andrew Ross and creative consulting by Nancye Hayes. They make all the right moves, avoiding hackneyed show tunes for a set list of obscure but catchy ditties. (Despite the show's title, Kirkpatrick also avoids singing the Sondheim hit I'm Still Here.)

For a gay and lesbian crowd, the extra bonuses are Kirkpatrick's reminiscences, including a turn filling in for a drag queen at Capriccio's alongside Carlotta. Kirkpatrick also used to record the voices for drag show pantomimes later mimed by drag queens, bizarre quasi-radio drama productions which also starred June Salter and Toni Lamond.

Talking with Kirkpatrick after the show, she provided more details of her bohemian past.

"I met Carlotta probably about 1960 when I was 20 and Carlotta was 18," Kirkpatrick said, who used to socialise at the old Rex Hotel in Kings Cross. "There was a little bar at the back, a tiny one. And it was a gay bar, very discreet, very discreet. Women weren't allowed to drink inside the pub, either in the back bar or out front. I used to drink on the footpath. You saw the most extraordinary group of people you've ever seen, from wharfies, actors, painters, writers, a few very discreet gay men, because all that was terribly underhand, it was illegal. As indeed was dressing in drag.

"In fact there was a very famous lesbian in those days used to ride a Harley Davidson, Bobby Nugent was her name, she was an entertainer and when she wasn't wearing her leathers and things on the bike, she used to wear the most extraordinarily elegant handmade Italian suits. Really, elegant stuff. But they didn't have a fly in them, she wasn't allowed to do that. So it worked the other way! It worked the other way for women dressing as men. So I just used to chat and drink with this amazing, diverse group of people."

Kirkpatrick laments her single status in the show, her desire for a boyfriend (yes, she's straight), and very, very briefly mentions Prisoner. Is she sick to death of talking about it?

"Yes I am frankly," she said, curtly. "It's not hugely important to me in the scheme of 42 years, but it's obviously still terribly important to many, many people. I'm very grateful that that keeps people perhaps a little interested in what I do. It has provided audiences that might not have come to some of the plays that I've done for instance. That's terrific, because if television exposure like that can get people to the theatre, then that warms my old heart."

There is, however, one priceless Freak moment, which is now about to be ruined. (SPOILER ALERT!) Kirkpatrick explained that she failed in her audition for Chicago years ago, so dons leather gloves and rips out with a nasty rendition of When You're Good To Mama, rich with the lesbian undertones erased from Queen Latifah's interpretation. It's also sung in the Freak's strident Aussie drawl.

The Freak's still got it, even with a dash of bitterness, a touch of laughter and buckets of irony.












Lesbians On The Loose

Sydney's newest cabaret and jazz venue Kabarett Voltaire has officially opened its doors. Located in the old El Rocco Jazz Cellar, a haunt for famous jazz musicians in the 50s and 60s, Kabarett Voltaire will showcase the best cabaret and jazz talent from Australia and overseas. Styled on the 'after show supper club', and in the tradition of the world famous Café Voltaire in Zurich, Kabarett Voltaire features hot female talents such as Lisa Schouw in a tribute to Nina Simone (Oct 3), Amie McKenna (Oct 4) and Kaye Tuckerman (Oct 5 & 10). Dinner + show is just $40. Show only is $25. 22/230 William Street, Potts point (opp. O'Malleys Pub). Bookings essential (02) 9368 0894











September 26 2003, The Sydney Morning Herald

Reviewed by John Shand

Slide up William Street to Kings Cross and Brougham Street deviates to the left. The stylish Bar Me lounges on ground level, but the real magic lies down the flight of stairs, where the ghosts of 1000 masterful jazz performances are now serenaded by the best in Sydney cabaret.

Some rooms have music dripping from the walls, thanks to the accumulated quality of the sound waves that have bounced around. Kabarett Voltaire is a reincarnation of the famed El Rocco jazz cafe which, opening in 1955, was the mecca of modern jazz in Sydney through the 1960s.

Singer and dynamo David Hawkins has taken advantage of the revamped space to close Kabarett Junction (in Bondi Junction) and relocate his thriving cabaret theme.

The room, although small - accommodating 70 at a pinch - has character, good sound and a fine piano. Two floor-to-ceiling gargoyles guard either side of the stage like twin assistant stage managers. Cupids flutter in little insets in the walls, and wine flows benevolently at the bar.

For this launch four artists presented highlights from their shows, before an audience including such cabaret stars as Toni Lamond, Paul Capsis and Phil Scott. Lisa Schouw was first up, the imposing former Girl Overboard singer drawing on her Nina Simone tribute, The Other Woman, with pianist Peter Bailey. In a voice like dark chocolate she wrapped vulnerability around a core of steel, her performance culminating in the bitterness, resilience and tragedy of the title song.

With Andrew Warboys at the piano, Hawkins delved into his Nom de Plume material. His performance has clearly grown in strength, periodically scorching to new heights of intensity.

The striking facial expressions and millisecond-perfect comic timing of Amie McKenna contributed to charmingly psychotic readings of Crazy and Like a Virgin.

Delivering her numbers with doll-like detachment, McKenna - "accompanied by Basil Hogios" - somehow sends up songs, even as she jolts you emotionally.

Finally, Andrew Davidson accompanied the sleazy sensuality and engaging humour of Kaye Tuckerman. She was hilarious in a song about braining her grandfather, utterly arresting and chillingly convincing elsewhere. She should, however, desist from shouting her big notes.

The Mark Taylor Trio rounded out the evening, reflecting the intention to ultimately have jazz performances seven nights a week, including after the Friday-Sunday cabaret shows. Hawkins appears tonight and tomorrow night; Tuckerman on Sunday and October 5 and 10; Schouw on October 3, 18,19, 25, 26; McKenna on October 4.













Sydney Star Observer

Singer and actor David Hawkins gives a wry laugh when he recalls his first role in a big musical: entrepreneur Lee Gordon in Shout! To Hawkins's own surprise, he has found himself running not one but three cabaret venues while maintaining a career as a performer.

"I've realised in the last few years I'm falling into that showman bag, like Gower Champion, performers who produce as well, [that] showbiz is your life," Hawkins says. "I used to for a long time think, I'm either a performer or a producer." Now I think I do both of them and that's the way it is."

The journey began with the death of the Tilbury, Sydney's beloved cabaret homeland. Hawkins formed his own company Showtune productions in 1996, revived the 70s music venue the Kirk Gallery, then opened Kabarett Junction at Bondi Junction. Now he's hit Kings Cross, in the depths of Bar Me, site of the old El Rocco jazz club. During all of this Hawkins has performed with Opera Australia and in his own one-man show, written with performance poet Wednesday Kennedy.

"My company Showtune Productions was started to give opportunities to music theatre performers when they're not in major shows and cabaret performers who maybe don't normally get attention because they're a little bit offbeat," Hawkins says.

"What I'm trying to do is go more left of centre, to the more social and political satire style of cabaret, which is why I'm calling it Kabarett, because in the German spelling kabarett means political and social satire where cabaret is burlesque," he says.

His line-up is definitely offbeat, although punters concerned about the political emphasis should be reassured by a program that is simply eclectic. Last week saw Natalie Gamsu perform, a South African chanteuse who was a hit in New York, and blew away the crowd at the Hats Off concert with her rendition of Hot Gates (a song with lyrics consisting almost entirely of the names of infamous cities). December sees the arrival of Hayden Tee (of MufTee fame) and Eddie Perfect (also a hit at Hats Off). Then of course, there's Maggie Kirkpatrick. The Freak sings?

"She's such a legend and she's got a story to tell," Hawkins says. "I contacted her agent and apparently she was working on a show, so the timing was really serendipitous. She's not totally focused on Prisoner and the Freak, but I don't think she can get away from it!"

Does the venue work? An invitation to see Gamsu last weekend was a perfect test. Taking a left turn just before the Coca-Cola sign, the audience gingerly stepped down into a basement room with plenty of atmosphere, where jazz ghosts mingled with the spectres of bohemian crims. There were plenty of tables in the centre with orbiting bar stools on the edge and overhead fans circulating in time with the frantic drinks staff. The room was packed and Gamsu was slick and warm, lubricating the air with mezzo tones and a song list swaying from Jacques Brel to David Bowie.

The faux-Gothic décor might be kitsch, but the space felt genuine. Somewhere between the old Tilbury and the Kit-Kat Club of Isherwood's Berlin, Kabarett Voltaire should flourish, which for cabaret lovers can only be a good thing.

Kabarett Voltaire is at Bar Me, corner of William and Brougham Streets, Potts Point. All shows are $25 (8pm), dinner and show $40 (starting at 7pm). Phone (02) 9368 0894 for bookings. Hayden Tee appears on 5 and 14 December; Maggie Kirkpatrick from 4 December and Eddie Perfect from 19 December. David Hawkins sings at the Spiegeltent on 7 December (phone 1300 136 166).













What do you do when you love musical theatre, have a passion for pop music and have a sketchy knowledge of world history? According to performer Amie McKenna, you create a wild and wacky cabaret show.

Her solo show, AmieInc: Pop Tales, played to critical acclaim earlier this year and returns to Sydney for a series of performances this month.

"It's cabaret show in the sense that it is intimate and there is a direct line of communication between the audience and performer," Amie explains. "But the songs aren't show tunes, they are pop songs from classic pop icons like Elvis, Madonna, Beatles, Bowie, Patsy Cline and ACDC.

"I have always loved pop music and its ability to unite people. Each song tells the story of the generation it was inspired by and created for. I like to uncover the story behind each song."

Amie was to perform the shows at Kabarett Junction, where she has been a bit of a regular, but the venue has closed and moved to a new location in Kings Cross.

"I've did three shows there," she said. "I was first introduced to David Hawkins and Kabarett Junction by Jim Sharman. He was impressed by the fact that David had created this scene above a Pizza shop in somewhere as bleak as Bondi Junction mall.
"The three of us ended up doing a show together. It was A night of Lou Reed, Kurt Well and Randy Newman Around that time I also did my show Pop Hymns there and earlier this year I premiered the new show."

A graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Amie had the idea for her "different" style of cabaret when she graduated from the renowned performing arts school some years ago.

"As soon as I graduated from NIDA, I had the urge to create a piece, which had pop music and theatre influences," Amie said. "Since then the idea has gone through a few different incarnations and has really started to come together in the last six months."

24-year-old Amie is an actor by trade, but by no means does that take away from her ability as a singer. She manages to captivate an audience, bring back plenty of memories and have them laughing all the way home.
With an hilarious side-kick in tow, this bright young performers top show is well worth seeing.















The Sydney Morning Herald
14 July 2003
by John Shand

She calls the show Still Full of Life - a title emphatically endorsed from the moment Toni Lamond steps on stage.

That eternal baby face, the infectious, almost conspiratorial sparkle in her eyes and that potentially bruising voice all play their part in what is more a celebration of later life than a mourning for lost youth - even while acknowledging that growing older isn't for wimps.

The show, she tells us at the outset, is about relationships: the pumping heart of life. And while those relationships are primarily played out through the lyrics of a repertoire running from Duke Ellington to Noel Coward and on to Helen Reddy, we also witness the real-life one with accompanist Ron Creager. Like Mark Jones a week earlier at the same venue with the powerhouse that is Melissa Langton, Creager is the complete package: musical director, harmony singer and foil for Lamond's banter.

That their musical partnership has been a long-term one is plain. They have had time to hone each bar of each song so that Lamond is never just singing by numbers, but offering intimately personal interpretations. Even a relatively unsuccessful song, like Billy Joel's Just the Way You Are (which seemed to be in a difficult key) had Lamond making so much more of the lyric than Joel himself had done.

The same quality was there in a fine reading of Mood Indigo, arranged with care, and oozing bluesy melancholy in Lamond's delivery. Skylark also benefited from a deft arrangement, while Young At Heart was broken up with gags and anecdotes, Lamond in her element with a quip on her tongue and an audience eating out of her hand.

Her voice was still a huge, raucous, brassy instrument when called upon, although it was at its most attractive when being more plaintive or prettily coy.

And all the while Creager shadowed and shaded every vocal move by Lamond, his eyes glued to her. Like Ralph Sharon teaming with Tony Bennett and Wally Harper with Barbara Cook, the sophistication of what is happening at the piano creeps up on you, because the point is to be fairly inconspicuous. Such selflessness deserves to stand beside more widely lauded achievements in music, and Creager's is well-used in the service of the ongoing life-force that is Toni Lamond.













The Sun Herald
29 June 2003

Veteran entertainer Toni Lamond seems keen to remind people she's still comfortably perched on the ol' mortal coil. Why else would she call her show Still Full of Life? The show, which combines pop, ballad, musical theatre favourites and gospel makes its return to Sydney on July 11 with a season at Bondi Junction's Kabarett Junction. Patrons will indeed find Lamond alive and kicking as she includes both extra material and a sneak preview of her next big solo show.













The Daily Telegraph
Viva Goldner
14 May 2003

Contestants in today's dating game usually have a tale or two about getting it on with the wrong Mr or Ms Right. The internet has hatched many of these modern matches but, sadly romance does not always translate beyond the chatroom.

Taking the pros and dot.cons of making love work to the stage is a new show, The Dating Game.

"The show is about the sorts of new twists on dating we have in the new millennium where people are finding other ways to meet people," actor Julie O'Brien says.

The plot follows characters Jenny and Jason (played by O'Brien and Jeremy Powell) as they strike up an unlikely friendship from a cyber encounter.

Despite finding little in common on a first date from hell, the two take a chance at a second rendezvous. Their journey to relationship bliss or something close will touch and amuse audiences, says O'Brien.

"She is very shy, a would-be actress who is bored with all the nights at home," says O'Brien. "A good evening for her would be worming the cat and watching the movie of the week.

"He is this sort of extroverted, money-market guy who is very full of himself and thought he'd try pot luck with someone different because he was sick of going out with beautiful women and power bitches.

"But during the course of time, the two characters change as they take each other's advice."

Set to song and dance, thier dating escapades will strike a chord with anyone who has ever been unlucky in love.

"On their first date, she orders the wrong drinks and finds she is allergic to cosmopolitans," O'Brien says. "She picks the movie, he picks the restaurant, but she picks a really bad chick-flick movie.

"He doesn't want to spend much, so he takes her to the all-you-can-eat buffet at Coogee Sizzlers."

While O'Brien had no real-life internet dating experience, she says friends have stories to share.

"We go through the theories of the photo that you put on the Net, how we've embellished the truth to make ourselves far more interesting," she says.

"In these days, for a lot of people it's safer. You can suss people out before you actually meet, then the truth comes out when you meet face-to-face."

The Dating Game also features Kellie Dickerson at the piano, with classic and contemporary songs from music theatre.























Sydney Morning Herald
Brigid Delaney
9 May 2003

Belinda Wollaston is giving cabaret a cool teen twist, Brigid Delaney reports.

Cabaret screams "look at me!" The confessional nature of the genre demands a lot - big talent, epic stories and a certain amount of chutzpah.

But young performers are reluctant to take the stage, preferring the safety of the chorus line and soap opera.

Nineteen-year-old Belinda Wollaston is one of the few exceptions.

While old-timer performers base their shows on the wear and tear of age - the alcoholism, the divorces and the bankruptcies - Wollaston is happy to explore teen themes.

Familiar rites of passage are crammed in her second solo cabaret show, Hymns from the Hurricane: moving out of home, getting a job, discovering city life.

Wollaston describes it as "the changes and moves I have made in the last year. I wrote the patter myself. It is true to my own experiences of shifting from Penrith, to Balmain and then to Pyrmont, each a closer step to the city." Then there's "trying to find a job in the city and how tough it is".

Wollaston is aware that she lacks contemporaries in the cabaret music scene. Her friends are in musicals or soaps.

"There are a lot of people who want to do cabaret but are too scared to do it," she says.

Veteran cabaret performer and producer David Hawkins says young people in cabaret are a rarity because the confessional nature of cabaret can be daunting for the inexperienced.

"Cabaret is exposing," says Hawkins.

"Unless you can really put yourself behind your material, it can fall apart. There is as much egotistical, indulgent stuff as there is good stuff."

Young performers contemplating a cabaret career "really have to take a leap of faith, in their material and their talent", he says.

Wollaston is comfortable with making the leap and baring her soul before an audience.

"I grew up watching cabaret. It's an intimate thing - it's about you as a performer," she says.

Hers was not a musical family but an influential "clarinet teacher had done cabaret" and steered her into the scene.

Young Talent Time was an inspiration. There is something of that show in her - the peppy talk of self-belief and achievement kept in check by the humility of acknowledging "all the people that support me".

She shares the YTT's strenuous work-out of all her talents: she sings, dances, acts and does voice overs. This is no teen waif wasting her gifts on the set of soap.

Wollaston got an early start when she performed her first solo show, Songs From My Hairbrush: The Bedroom Mirror and Me, at just 16.

"I was very young and quite nervous," she says. "If you are going to do a cabaret show you have to make it interesting.

"But you have to trust in yourself and believe in your work. The audience can tell if you are bullshitting."

Hawkins was in the audience on the opening night.

"For Belinda it was absolutely frightening," he says. "But she was so gutsy, strong and confident that she pulled it off."

It is this "gutsiness" needed to succeed in cabaret that Hawkins says provides "a career springboard. Cabaret is so hard that anything else afterwards seems like a breeze."













Sydney Morning Herald
Joel Gibson
9 May 2003

Chequers and the Tilbury have closed their doors but cabaret persists, reports Joel Gibson.

The recent history of the cabaret scene in this town looks a bit like a typical performance of the genre: bursts of heartfelt song interspersed with mild-mannered patter while everyone goes to the bar and waits for the next number to start. No long-term development, no mainstream penetration.

It wasn't always like that. The late, great Chequers Nightclub in Liverpool Street played host to Liza Minnelli, Ethel Merman and Peter Allen. The Tilbury Hotel in Woolloomooloo picked up the scene, with month-long runs of shows that packed the house.

The Tilbury wasn't just Sydney's cabaret home - it was its schoolhouse, as well. Many of the old guard cut their teeth there, including STC Wharf Revuers Jonathan Biggins, Phil Scott, Drew Forsythe and Tony Sheldon, as well as Nancye Hayes, Toni Lamond and Garry Scale.

Since owners Geoffrey Williams and Michael Freundt sold the pub to cashed-up renovators in 1997, a few venues have popped up their heads only to soon pull them in again, having failed to fill the void. The Kirk, Cafe 9 and Eastside Cabaret came and went like the postman, leaving only bills and romantic memories.

These days, cabaret lives on in a few smaller restaurant-cum-clubs, though most of the acts are from the Tilbury days.

A generation of performers seems to have gone missing because there was nowhere they could stretch or bend the genre and take it somewhere new. Poet and performer Wednesday Kennedy, for example, has headed to the US, while Edwina Blush and Lisa Schouw are rarely spotted.

There are now two cabaret venues in Sydney's east: Woodfire Cabaret in Double Bay and Kabarett Junction in Bondi. Kabarett Junction is hoping to give the genre a future, putting young, sexy artists such as Belinda Wollaston on stage.

Some songsters are doing it for themselves. Hayden Tee, the 22-year-old winner of last year's Sydney Cabaret Convention showcase, will join forces with old hand Les Solomon from May 16 to offer the innovative concept of interactive "casual cabaret".

The gigs don't kick off at Darlinghurst's Stables Theatre until 11pm and Tee dares to wear a paisley tie in the poster. Their mission? Like all things old, to make that cabaret new again.

The upcoming Sydney Cabaret Convention will attempt its own makeover from May 27 to 31. Most of the showcase acts will be Tilbury alumni, but they will be followed each night by young hopefuls such as Wollaston, vying for a trip to New York and a spot at the city's Cabaret Convention.

















The Central Coast Herald
8 May 2003

"The Dating Game is a musical romp through the trials and tribulations of trying to get it on with the Wrong Mr Right. It's a roller-coaster ride full of the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the unders and over-it's, pros and dot-coms of dating in the so-called 'New Millennium'.

Featuring a wide range of songs from music theatre, popular, as well as some of the great old standards and some very funny action, "The Dating Game" showcases the comedic and vocal talents of Julie O'Brien and Jeremy Powell, with Kellie Dickerson at the piano.

Powell, O'Brien and Dickerson have appeared in shows like "Pirates of Penzance", "Anything Goes", "Crazy For You", "Chess", "Evita", "Guys and Dolls", "42nd Street" and, most recently, Cameron McIntosh/Kevin Jacobsen's Melbourne production of "The Witches of Eastwick".

Their last ventures into cabaret include Two Gals and a Guy and the hugely popular East of the West End, which played to full houses at the Darlinghurst venue, La Bar. They now return to the small stage in a show written and directed by John Banas with choreography by Missy Stevens.












The Daily Telegraph
Troy Lennon
2 May 2003

Cabaret artist David Hawkins found himself under a spotlight of a different kind earlier this year -- the kind you find on an operating table. Hawkins was operated on for a rare heart condition, while on a break from his role as Lee Gordon in the touring Shout! He has sprung back to present a cabaret benefit for the Sydney Children's Hospital, called Shout Out With An Open Heart at the Kabarett Junction. His drama began when he came down with persistent flu symptoms recently. The doctors diagnosed a virus but further tests revealed he had endocarditis, a viral infection of the heart valve. "So they had to remove my old valve and replace it with a mechanical valve,'' says Hawkins. He says that he was impressed by the treatment he received.

"I was amazed with what these people do, what they have to put up with. They're healers, aren't they.'' The open heart surgery was only on March 20, the doctors got him up and walking the day after the operation and while he still needs time to recuperate, he hopes to be back on stage for Shout! in June. His experience inspired him to use his talents to put on the benefit for the Sydney Children's Hospital. He realised how much support hospitals need and wanted to contribute. "The reason I've chosen the Children's Hospital is that just the thought of this sort of thing happening to kids is just so scary.'' So he called his cast mates from Shout! to be part of the show.

"They were so willing and so eager to be a part of it, it was beautiful.'' Some of those who are coming to help out are Darren Coggan, Rod Dunbar, Sarah Harlow, Nick Jones, Benjamin McHugh, Peter Murphy, Kate Parry and Anita Plateris. The show will comprise what Haw kins refers to as their "party pieces'' rather than songs from the show. "It's not going to be heavy-hearted, it's all very light-hearted,'' he laughs.










The Daily Telegraph
11 April 2003

For most showbusiness aspirants, the first job anywhere near a stage is usually waiting on tables or pulling beers next door to a theatre.

But Belinda Wollaston has been lucky. Only two years out of school and she has been almost constantly performing in theatre, cabaret and even on TV. "I'm on a bit of a roll" she admits.

Wollaston is now part of the cast of the fringe theatre work Milk, by young playwright Rowan Ellis, at the Fitzroy Theatre and earlier this year she had a role in Three Winters Green at the Stables Theatre.

"Milk is a lot different from that last play. The Fitzroy is such an intimate space and it is such an intimate play, so real and so natural."

When Milk finishes at the end of April she will go on to rehearsals for Assassins at the New Theatre in June and July, in which she will play Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a disciple of Charles Manson.

Before that she will perform in her second cabaret show, Hymns From The Hurricane.

The title is derived from the feeling that the world is caught in a bit of a hurricane with things like the war in Iraq and the SARS virus making headlines.

"At the moment our world is so full of uncertainty and no one knows when it will stop," Wollaston says.

"My show is a place where people can escape from all of that for a while."

The songs are anything but hymns, though. They include everything from Tom Waits to songs from musicals and rock tunes. They are strung together by a monologue that talks about a broad range of topics such as her move from her home near Penrith to the city, living in Balmain among lots of cockroaches, relationships (in particular with her pet fish) and some of her more interesting roles.

"I also talk about trying to get a job in the city, trying to keep a job in the city and about using my acting skills to convince people to give me a job when I have no experience."

Wollaston is quickly building an impressive range of experiences. She is certainly no stranger to cabaret, having staged her first successful show - Songs from my hairbrush: The bedroom mirror and me - last year at Kabarett Junction.

This time, accompanied by Lindsay Partridge, she builds on that experience to come up with what she believes is a much better show.

"This show has got a lot more balls than the last. It's not so girly and goes a lot deeper, the subjects are a lot more broad."












Penrith Press
11 April 2003

Penrith's rising musical star Belinda Wollaston is living her life "at full speed - the speed of a hurricane" these days. So her new show, premiering at Bondi's Kabarett Junction next month, is appropriately called Hymns From The Hurricane.

"These are the songs I want to sing, the stories I want to tell," Wollaston said.

She plans to take the audience from the audition process to the big stage, from the dressing room to the streets of Sydney, from bugs in the sink of her new city abode to making a quite unusual trip to the Easter show.

It's all based on her experiences, as was her debut one woman show, Songs from my hairbrush.

Hymns From The Hurricane will tour Sydney before starting a national tour. Currently Wollaston is completing a season as Samantha in the new Australian play, Milk. Earlier this year, she performed to critical acclaim in Three Winters Green, and supported Equity Fight Against Aids with performances at Sydney's Mardi Gras fair day.
















The Sunday Telegraph
9 March 2003

Her dad is Peter Best, the composer whose jaunty yet spiky soundtrack is so integral to the ABC series Grass Roots. Her sister is Blazey Best, the gorgoeus, talented and funny actress (remember Bell Shakepeare's Comedy of Errors?); so it was kinda inevitable that Jordan Best is going to hit the boards or be musical in a big way, sooner or later.

Not surprisingly, she's doing both - as a singer-songwriter whose reputation is growing and glowing. Sade would like to sound like this; Norah Jones' fans believe she's like this; Dory Previn used to do this: subversively sweet songs with a startling and slyly funny acid kick in the pants to the lovers and losers who have inspired her songs.












The Daily Telegraph
Troy Lennon
7 March 2003

There is a wog in every one of us, according to performer Teresa de Gennaro.

When she was growing up in the Italian sectors of Port Pirie and Adelaide she was acutely aware that her parents were "different".

Like most people in the region of South Australia where they lived, they came from a small town in Italy called Molfetta near Bari

They lived as Italians in a community of Italian immigrants who seemed to have little in common with the sea of anglo-Australians outside it.

But since then, Australia has changed. "All the things that made my parents different, like concrete pillars on verandahs, tiling, and lasagne, things that really stood out, are now so integrated into Australian culture," she says.

In her new cabaret show Cabaret Fan Tutti she shares some of her personal experiences growing up as a "wog" in Australia. But her experiences are something that most Australians will be able to relate to.

"It's about being Italo-Australian and about cultural clashes when I was growing up," she reveals.

"Ultimately, it all comes not full circle, but half circle and the cultures complement each other."

De Gennaro says she had a traditional strict Italian Catholic upbringing.

While her friends were going out enjoying themselves, she had to stay home performing all the domestic tasks that would help her "grow up, get married and have children straight out of high school".

But de Gennaro wanted to be an actor, which was a bit of a shock to her parents. Although they are now very supportive of her career, Teresa initially encountered numerous barriers.

She says she ran away from home twice because of the lack of acceptance of her chosen career.

After several years at university studying physics and maths, she tried to change one of her subjects to drama - but still met resistance.

"I had to lie and sneak away to rehearsals, pretending to be studying with friends," she says.

It was only at university that she also discovered she could sing.

"I was told repeatedly that I couldn't sing, but then I wanted it so much that I went out and got lessons," she smiles.

Voice techniques she learnt at university brought out her big voice.

Suddenly her family began to notice her talent and realise that she had a calling other than maths, physics or being a housewife.

Since then she has been in several musicals and plays and will even appear in an upcoming episode of McLeod's Daughters.

"My dad actually started getting into singing and is now a karaoke regular," she says. "He sings O Sole Mio, the Godfather songs - he goes every week."

Her mum, who had always been a bit of a singer every Sunday at church, also accompanies her dad and knows all of the songs.

Teresa says karaoke is "such a non-Italian thing to do". Although I doubt many Italians need much prompting to sing along.

Her brother also took up singing "out of nowhere", entered a talent quest and is now in a funk-pop band.

"This whole family that was not creative and against all of my performing suddenly realised they were repressed performers," she says.

In an earlier manifestation of her cabaret act, Teresa had all of her family come along and join in.

Her act now explores her struggle and evolving relationship with her family.

The show is strong on the Italian flavour with numbers by Dean Martin and from musical theatre.

"It's a light-hearted show, it doesn't get too heavy," she says. "it's more comical."

Although her background is Italian, she believes the show has a much broader appeal.

"It doesn't matter that it's an Italian culture," she says. "I think many other cultures experience the same problems - Indians and Asians."

While the cabaret gig is her current focus, de Gennaro says she sees herself in the future "doing everything", acting and singing. "I love it all," she says. "I'm so passionate. It's that whole Italian thing."


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