Vaudevillian tease [by Sharu Delilkan]
TAPAC appears to have had a penchant for cabaret and burlesque shows in recent years and we’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed many an entertaining evening there. So naturally we were curious to see what Lilly Loca’s Vaudeville Cabaret Voix de Ville could offer that was new, exciting and sexy.
The show began in a promising way with our MC Lilly Loca, the alter ego of the show’s creator Nat Hugill, in a traditional feather dance to set the scene for what seemed to be the prelude for a good evening’s entertainment. But unfortunately the show didn’t quite hit the mark.
Lilly Loca’s attempt to introduce the flimsy ‘storyline’ that runs throughout the show is difficult to follow to say the least and ultimately lacks depth, which is where the show really falls down. If I’m honest I’d say that the overall ‘plot’ of trying to solve a mystery was not particularly well thought out and could have easily been dispensed with altogether. Dare I suggest that the show may have benefitted with that whole element being substituted with a couple of additional performances from the rest of the cast. And the ‘interaction’ between Lilly Loca and Patty Haag (Patrick Haag) billed as “The Hideously Fabulous Stage Kitten” was an equally weak device. The fact that Patty was never allowed to speak proved more counterproductive than enhancing. My preference would have been to hear her thoughts rather than making her sole purpose as the MC’s foil.
Traditionally in vaudeville/burlesque you only need a vaguely believable thread to join the performers but in this case it just didn’t make any sense – which frankly was a bit of a shame since the performers were fundamentally good.
A particular highlight was the irreverent stand up comedian and DIY John, Mark Scott, who had the audience in stitches everytime he took to the stage. Even if I had never seen him on stage before, which is not true as we’re real fans of this comic genius, it has to be said that Scott stole the show. He was witty, ridiculous, downright laugh-out-loud funny and the reason we had smiles on our faces as we walked out of TAPAC.
I must applaud Fever Pitch (Mitchell Pitch) who definitely worked his charm with the ladies and I think some of the gents as well, from what I could see, with his rippling muscles and great aerial work. His look – that was described as the love child of martial arts legend Chuck Norris and musical icon the late Freddy Mercury – definitely appealed to the audience.
Sophia St Villier, who was playing out her inner Rita Hayward, had the outfit, the moves and the body (as was confirmed by conversations my hubby and I overheard outside TAPAC after the show), but her formulaic routines really needed more raunchiness and sexiness to be convincing. I couldn’t help comparing her performance to a recent episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries where Phryne Fisher’s delicious ‘feather dance’ was both tantalising and titillating, despite the lack of nudity.
The live band on stage The Spietatet Jazz Trio was a pleasant surprise when we walked into the theatre; they looked great and had potential to deliver great live music but they only seemed to play really silly music like The Elephant’s Walk with great precision. In short they seemed underutilised and I would’ve loved to have heard more from them. In the same vein I thought it strange that a couple of the acts used pre-recorded music when they clearly had access to a live band.
So yes the show has the elements of a fabulous night out but unfortunately, unless the fundamental thread of the show is given some attention, I’m afraid this show will lose audience members like they did during the interval on opening night.
All in all the publicity hype for the show did not live up to expectations. The interludes were way to drawn out and ended up hindering rather than helping the show gain momentum. It may have been opening night where we expect some glitches but the first half of the show seemed a little under rehearsed and lacked polish.
I believe that to bring this production up to scratch the link between performers needs to be tightened up, a story needs to be told and this needs to be less of a vehicle for the MC and more of a relaxing enjoyable evening for the audience to savor the burlesque show.
Voix de Ville is presented by Lilly Loca’s Vaudeville Cabaret and plays at TAPAC until 16 November. Details see TAPAC.