Festival Theatre, Sat Jun 21
It is without surprise that Kate Ceberano has done an amazing job in her three-year tenure as Artistic Director for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. She has delivered everything from traditional cabaret, not-so-typical cabaret and ‘not your usual suspects’ – as is the case with the 2014 season. Ceberano and her team deserve all the accolades that they have been afforded.
On the final night of her final year, Ceberano – to her credit – wanted to deliver something new and fresh to bring a younger generation feel and style into the world of cabaret. Cabaret, in the truest sense, has always been about breaking with tradition, rebelling against musical conformity, finding new ground but always to be delivered with passion for the music and the performance.
Enter The RAAH Project; a collaboration between Melbourne-based producer, composer and vocalist Ryan Ritchie and his extremely talented violinist, composer, arranger and musical director partner-in-crime Tamil Rogeon. The RAAH Project blurred the lines between classical jazz, electronica, hip hop and drum/bass-driven rhythms. Adding the fabulous Adelaide Art Orchestra into this melting pot of ideas created something only mildly short of spectacular.
Described as ‘The world’s greatest songs re-arranged, re-mixed and re-imagined’, The New Score definitely was an unforgettable performance, but not for the right reasons, and not for the sugar-coated views of other reviewers that were within the audience that night; an audience that was smaller by the end of the show than what it started with.
Personally, I think it’s a fantastic idea to want to introduce new things to the world of cabaret – if it was staged at a $15 Fringe Festival venue, but not at the Festival Theatre where people have paid up to $90 per ticket wanting to see the undeniable talents of Kate Ceberano, iOTA (Smoke & Mirrors / Hedwig & The Angry Inch) and Kylie Auldist (The Bamboos). In fact, and cool as the concept was, it excluded – and actually bewildered – much of the older audience who shuffled in their seats as they were determined to get their dollar’s worth… but didn’t.
Within the duration of The New Score, we saw very little of Ceberano, iOTA and Auldist; singing one and a half songs each, and a little back-up. The rest of the time was nothing short of uncomfortable as one ego-fuelled, self-centred man strutted around the stage with a glass in one hand and a microphone that he refused to put down in the other.
Humble and talented, Rogeon quietly fulfilled his role as violinist and arranger and conducted the Art Orchestra as skilfully as he conducted himself. Ritchie, on the other hand, even with his skill of creating an impromptu rap song that was quite funny, put people off (putting it mildly) with his audacity to call out to Ceberano who was side-stage “Oi! Kate! Come out here… and someone find me some more bourbon while you’re there!” The ever professional Ceberano remained gracious, even when Ritchie clearly did not want to step aside so she could introduce surprise guest and Motown legend Darlene Love. It was only when she said “Well. I AM Kate Ceberano and this IS my final Cabaret Festival” did he flip his hand and move away from centre stage. The guy got lucky to be on the same stage as these consummate performers and he barely showed an inkling of gratitude and humility.
Having said all of that, Darlene Love was the saving grace of the evening, as were the few moments that we got to hear the people that we were all there to see; Kate Ceberano, iOTA and Kylie Auldist. And even though Kate had her final shebang in the Backstage Bar after this show had ended, it didn’t stop the unhappy faces that filled the Festival Theatre foyer as people left, disappointed and feeling somewhat sad that we misinterpreted the original intention of the performance. There was so much about this show that was fantastic, spoiled only by the attitude of one performer. But don’t worry, you fine Cabaret Festival fans, we still love Kate and all that she has done for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and we will all be back next year. But, I suspect, The RAAH Project will not!
by Catherine Blanch