|Photo credit: Claudio Raschella|
[CABARET ~ WORLD PREMIERE & ADELAIDE EXCLUSIVE ~ AUS]
Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sat 11 Jun.
Cabaret can be many things, but what cabaret does really well is tell stories. And if the stories are important and largely unknown, then all the better. Such is the story of New York’s Brill Building. Between 1958 and 1964 it churned out an astonishing number of smash hits that revolutionised popular music at the time. There were several reasons for this, but Simply Brill stresses one reason in particular: the fact that an extraordinary number of these hits were written by women. This show could be suitably sub-titled ‘Three Broads From Brooklyn’. Those broads being Carole King (the very same Carole King who became a megastar as a singer songwriter in the ‘70s), Cynthia Weil (The Locomotion, Blame It On The Bossa Nova etc.) and Ellie Greenwich (Be My Baby, Leader Of The Pack etc).
In a wonderfully slick show Michael Griffiths, Amelia Ryan, and Michaela Burger don’t miss a beat in this storytelling and nostalgic musical bonanza. Backed up with slides and a great local band, the narration is fast paced, funny, and with just enough information to set up an appreciation of the next song. Ryan and Burger take turns as the Brooklyn broads but share much of the vocal work. Griffith spends most of the show on piano adding to the storyline and occasional doo wops, and bom boms as required, but shows his front man skills in solo renditions of songs like We Gotta Get Out of This Place. Ryan and Burger groove and jive throughout in seductive harmony with the music to stunning visual effect.
All three shared the storytelling and singing duties in an intricate, seamless show of organic joy. They were clearly enjoying what they were doing, loving the songs they were singing, and revelling in each other’s company. It was indeed brill.
Kudos to the bass player who wore a smile throughout and contributed to the good vibes! And there were good vibes a plenty. You got a very real sense of the excitement of the times and thrill that those young songwriters must have felt when they landed another hit.
And just in case you had any lingering doubts about the value of the song writing teams that worked in the Brill Building, a stirring final medley of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, River Deep Mountain High, and Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman sealed the deal.
(This review also posted on The Clothesline.)