A lover of burlesque, cabaret and a bit of bump and grind, I'm just a carny at heart. Attending the After Hours Cabaret Club was a no-brainer for me. The Melba Spiegeltent is an apt venue for this and all their upcoming shows. Since the attainment of the iconic Spiegeltent (built in Belgium in1910) in 2006 and renamed after our very own opera soprano, Dame Nellie Melba, this charming venue has delivered entertainment in spades and is home to Circus Oz.
This grand old dame fits the part and revels in its lineup of cutting edge, eccentric, debauched, scandalous, dangerous, yet, sophisticated and professional at the same time; performers. It has an air of excitement about it in its old saloon type styling and it was wonderful to see many a guest turn up in slightly offbeat and risqué fashion. Made me wish I had been a bit more daring in my clothing choice.
The venue is intimate and doesn't crowd too many seats together, making it a perfect vantage point from every angle to see the show. Outside and at the back are some well-maintained facilities when you need to 'spend a penny', and seating outside provides refuge for smokers and those wanting a bit of fresh air during intermission.
Others enjoying the atmosphere and the vibe inside, had a full bar to cater to their needs, with a few packets of crisps if you felt the need to snack. This event comes with service staff dressed to suit, beautiful showgirls to welcome you and sell you raffle tickets, and a clownesque entertainer who interacts directly with you, to pick up the slack before the show and during intermission. Completing the 'look' some of the performers amongst us regulars; gives it that jab of excitement to add to the atmosphere.
Tash York as MC is the perfect choice. A performance all-rounder, the first performance I saw was the Adult Fairy Party. Not knowing quite what to expect, I was blown away by her strong vocals which she displayed tonight. In These Things Take Wine and especially The Desperettes, her comedic delivery and timing is faultless.
Having 'Impromptunes' experience from comedy festivals, she made it look easy belting out song and lyrics ad-hoc in perfect pitch for the impromptu burlesque number about Ritalin the Teacher from Adelaide, also perfectly improvised by Zelia Rose the dancer. Tash the MC didn't disappoint. She commands the stage and the crowd with her confidence, humour and sheer professionalism; and of course, those vocals!
Anything Goes After Hours being the adage, the stage was certainly adorned with some great talent entertaining us in a variety of ways. The house rules of 'clapping, whooping and stomping your feet all at the same on the timber floors' when you see something that you really like, or see something that you yourself could not possibly do, was practised throughout the night with gusto.
You name it, the carnie had come to town, and it was wonderful that there was variety in the rotating performers to look forward to, as the entertainment just kept pumping. Kudos to After Hours producers and international burlesque artists, Bettie Bombshell and Maple Rose. Bettie performed singularly and as a duo with Kelly Ann Doll. She's dynamite in an equally explosive package, delivered with punch! The duo performance was especially entertaining as 2 dancers have a stand-off. It was a 'battle on the dance floor' as they bumped up against each other with a delivery that was equally professional and comedic.
As the band played on beautifully, managing to entertain flawlessly in spite of what could be distracting with fabulous appendages on show, the entertainment just kept on coming. In fact it went over closing time. Yeeha for the audience! David Splatt was a little something different but a completely enjoyable performance. His hand-puppet kept trying to get him out of the doldrums and put a smile on his sad-sack face which he maintained for the whole performance, in silence. It had heart and had me completely in its grips with the emotions displayed. It was such a quiet piece filled with emotional content, it was slightly annoying to have 60 continuous (I kid you not) clicks or more, right next to me on the aisle seat, of a professional camera, sounding thunderous in the silence, going off close to my ear.
From Charlie D. Barkle with his talking and singing penis, Frankie Valentine, Pat Bath, Betty Grumble (with an amazing body hidden under all that fur - and yes, they did come off) to the gorgeous Zelia Rose from Dita Von Teese's The Art of Tease, this is a show not to be missed! As it was a one night only performance, I guess it's OK for me to reveal that the surprise international performer from Berlin was Princess Tweedle Needle. Say what? Yep, Queen of the Absurdities Freakshow, she brought with her some sideshow, slapstick and physical comedy, culminating in a modern freakshow act. Used to showering in sparks, balancing on razor sharp machetes, skewering needles through her skin, hanging from flesh hooks and lifting heavy objects with strange body parts, it must have been a breeze for her to crunch on a chunk of metal, microphone to mouth, as we cringed and sat through the gnawing sounds of metal on teeth; then she swallows. Arrrrgh! It's all entertainment, so get out there and check out what else the Melba has on offer!