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Everybody is welcome in the Green Tile Tango Club
As part of Fremantle Fringe, sultry songstress Jen de Ness and her trio of merry men (thereby completing the Jen de Ness Quartet) invited us into the fictitious world of the Green Tile Tango Club for the night for the sold-out finale of Green Tile Tango.
Although not entirely fictitious, we soon learn the characters and stories from the Green Tile Tango Club, which revolve around love lost, love found and love never really there, are inspired by real-life encounters. We've all been there…
As the instrumentalists kicked off proceedings in the aptly green-lit room, Jen sashayed on stage (no, really, she totally sashayed!) to open with a sassy rendition of Peggy Lee's Fever to warm the room. She then introduced her band, including partner-in-music-and-love ("my man") Bill Atkinson (guitar/composition), Peter Grayling (cello) and Satish Krishnan (percussion "and technical something stuff").
Aural and visual storytelling Jen continued to sashay through the evening, introducing and personifying each of the club's characters with a quick back-story and an even quicker costume change, courtesy of her on-stage coatrack of accessories. Hat = Jack. Boa = Ester, etc…
Perth Tango Dancers (well, "latin-salsa-tango-hybrid dancers") Helene Schairer, Jorge Botello, Neda Bahremand, Kim Potter, Monica Laferra and John Sheh helped tell the stories visually through their sensual sways and tango-ing toes.
The set included well-known faves like These Boots Are Made for Walkin' and Cry Me A River, and the beautiful original composition about Michelle & Ester, which evoked gorgeous, romantic, carousel vibes.
Engaging, relaxed and humorous, Jen had the audience in the palm of her metaphorical Parisian evening gloves and was literally 'dancing on the table' at one point. A natural, between-songs 'chatter' and seasoned performer, having toured nationally and internationally, Jen warmly connected with the audience, switching from her Parisian character accents to cheerful, relaxo Australian.
Location, location, location. While the sold-out crowd was lapping it up and even getting involved in the deliberately tongue-in-cheek "audience participation" moments, for a cabaret of this style, a venue really makes it, and I couldn't help think a more intimate venue would've really transported the storytelling to a cosy, Parisian cabaret bar. (Not complaining about the venue at all, and I understand availability, especially during Fringe, must be difficult; I just think it would've created a different vibe in a 'tighter' room).
All in all, if you're after some lighthearted, love-tinged jazzy vocals and sassy moves, the Jen de Ness Quartet and tango dancers should hit the spot and soothe the heart.