I have a had a life-long love of the arts; enjoying theatre, ballet, art and movies. We are all time poor and have limits to our entertainment budget so I hope an honest review will help make your choices easier.
Sing it to me sister
The 2018 Wonderland Festival promises 25 spectacular shows over 11 nights featuring burlesque, circus, music, theatre, comedy and more.
The festival opened on Thursday night with Mama Alto performing Lady Sings the Blues. This performance was a homage to the late, great Billie Holiday. Holiday, born Eleanora Fagan was an American jazz icon who, despite a life of filled with turbulence and addiction, produced exquisite and powerful music over her 30-year career.
Mama Alto, a self-proclaimed gender transcendent diva, cabaret artiste, jazz singer and community activist, describes Billie Holiday as her childhood hero and the inspiration behind her chosen career. A dedication that was obvious in her passionate and talented rendition of some of Holiday's biggest hits. While I can't deny Mama Alto's exceptional singing, for me she was at her most powerful as a storyteller ...... who on occasion would slip into the roles of a university lecturer or activist (depending entirely on how well the audience behaved..... oops). In addition to Mama Alto's musical and storytelling talent, we were treated to Miss Chief's exceptional piano playing, as well as the guest appearance of two very clever, yet questionable guest trumpeters.
This combination of storytelling interspersed with song to pay tribute to an artist is a genre we are now very familiar with. However, I have rarely seen both components done so well. I think the real success of this show comes down to the fact that through a love of her hero, Mama Alto was able to channel Holiday as both the triumphant diva and the bruised soul - the ultimate and contrasting product of a hard life in an era when 'different' was feared and rejected.