Taking pride in presenting a truly unique show that brings together a bit of jazz, a bit of blonde bombshell aesthetic, and a whole lot of entertainment, Bonnie Lee Galea and Kerry Reid recently performed at the Adelaide Fringe season across three different venues and their sell-out shows should be living proof of how well received their work and performance was!
Recently, I was fortunate enough to have an interview set up with Bonnie and Kerry, where I learned the backstory of how the show "Blonde Bombshells of Jazz" came into our lives for all the right reasons - have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: How did you decide on producing / participating in a show like this? How did the concept come into being? Bonnie: The last few years, I have embarked on creating shows to be able to perform some of my favourite vocalists songs & music from their bands, who have inspired me and move me with their voice, song and delivery of lyrics. My first show BESSIE BILLIE DINAH features three iconic black women of blues & jazz who all only survived until at the most 44 yrs of age. Whilst being a fun show with all emotions within it, I felt that it would be awesome to sing a selection of white ladies music. This is where the idea of bringing in blondes came to mind. We ran the name by various people, who all had the same reaction, "That sounds fun!' And it is definitely going to be lots of fun.
Tema: Can you give me a bit of background information about the key people who are involved in the making of BBOJ? Bonnie: I thought tackling a variety of these fabulous ladies and their songs might be a little much for just me, so I asked the fabulous Kerry Reid [aka Miss Kitty from Miss Kitty's Karavan who is on holidays for this season of Fringe] if she would be interested in joining me on this show. 'That sounds like fun!' was her response. So, we decided to share about 10 different characters in the show. Kerry is a singer, dresser, comedian & actress so she is bringing a lot to this show with her collaboration. My partner Quinton Dunne plays double bass in the show & also sings.
Tema: What is the basic idea of the show (without giving too much away)? Bonnie: Our idea was to select a variety of three Blonde Bombshells of Jazz, some well known, some a little more obscure with an interesting story & a melange of songs that are often all performed as duets with each other. So, there a few of those such as from Rosemary Clooney & Marlene Dietrich who were quite good friends they sang together often and some great funny songs like TOO OLD TO CUT THE MUSTARD. There are also some with Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra & others.
Tema: How did you score the 2 venues that you have booked out for Fringe and why did you select these locations in particular? Bonnie: Normally I would select each venue quite away from each other and do one show only in each venue as there are just so many shows on during the Adelaide Fringe and some people just can't travel into the city. So, I find moving to the outer locations is always great for those locals. Truth is I was late in organising venues, so we thought the two in the city would work well as the A club is anew venue opened up last year with an Art Deco style of décor which suits our show. It has a cabaret-style feel to it. The Port Dock Brewery is a fabulous space and the Port is really becoming the place to be these days, so it's great to support the Port. Both venues have lots of parking around too, which is always convenient, in addition to readily available public transport. And great food!
Tema: Who are some of the blonde bombshells that you look up to and why? Bonnie: There are quite a few I love but from our show, the ones I am portraying I guess first off would absolutely be Peggy Lee - particularly her presence, assurance, and cheeky style! She also wrote & co-wrote many tunes, especially for the animated movie 'Lady & the Tramp' She was sassy & delivered songs that many women covered, but she had a unique sound. I also love the duets of Rosemary Clooney & Marlene Dietrich. I think they were both women with wonderful senses of humour, and their songs were full of funny lyrics, which they often sang together. Kerry: I think Mae West was sassy, original and very naughty. Marlene Deitrich was enigmatic, strong, and managed to capture the hearts of the Allies during a war her own country had started - did you know that she publicly condemned Hitler?
Tema: What do you hope your audience to feel and experience through the show? Kerry: A bit of nostalgia perhaps and to revisit some great songs. Bonnie: I always hope that the audience learn something they didn't know about these fabulous women & their bands that we tribute & also hear some other fabulous songs that may not have been recognised as their biggest hits, so they don't get forgotten as we move so fast into the future. Of course, we want everyone to have a few laughs also and forget about life for a little while by spending time with us!
Tema: What can people expect from attending your show? Kerry: Some great musicianship from a very hot jazz combo and a walk down memory lane. Bonnie: An hour & a half of great songs and entertainment. Lots of costumes & blonde wigs! Great atmosphere, good food & wine, fantastic entertainment, a laugh or two with some great appearances from Mae West! Watch out, boys - she may want you to Come Up and See Her Sometime!
Tema: What inspired you to get involved with the Adelaide Fringe? Bonnie: Mostly my audiences from general band gigs. They often come up to me and mention that I should do cabaret shows and that they would definitely come along to them if I did.
Tema: Have you been involved with other Fringe / burlesque / cabaret festivals around Australia or overseas? Bonnie: Not so much yet for Fringes but we will be going to Whyalla for their Fringe called UneARTh Whyalla on Sat 31 March in which we have Carol Young on Keys for one show only, along with our usual suspects from Jazz in Cheek Quartet listed below.
Tema: Is there anything else that you'd like our readers to know about your show? Bonnie: Yes, please! Our fabulous band includes: Jazz in Cheek Quartet - consisting of The Radical Richard Coates on Keys The Quintessential Quinton Dunne on Vocals & double bass
The Jovial Josh Chenoweth on Trumpet The Sensational STEVE TODD on Drums Supporting Bonnie Lee Galea & Kerry Reid on Vocals & Wigs!
While the show may have ended for the Adelaide Fringe season (and was a huge sell out), it will certainly be one that cannot be missed at next year's Adelaide Fringe festival - after all, jazz music is one of the most soothing forms of music that also simultaneously incorporates a great deal of foot-tapping and soul-pleasing themes!
In Whyalla? Blonde Bombshells of Jazz will be making an appearance at UneARTh on March 31, so keep an eye out for them if you're in the area!