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The Russians of Barcelona at Fringe Festival - Review

Home > Adelaide > Theatre Reviews | Performing Arts | Music Venues | Festivals | Cabaret
by Haydn Radford (subscribe)
Haydn Radford -A freelance writer born in Adelaide, who loves living here. I write about movies, theatre, entertainment, literary and art events. I am happy to promote & review your events. www.weekendnotes.com/profile/121822
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Oh, those Russians
The Russians of Barcelona


Hell of a party town!

This lively cabaret show by Sophia MacRae, sends a very clear message to her audience, "you can have adventures, you can do exciting things, you can take a bit of a risk sometimes, with somethings being a little precarious, but they can give you the most wonderful experience."

The Russians at Barcelona
Sophia MacRae: Cabaret is talking and sharing with my audience, but in the end, it is all about the music. Photo: H. Radford


MacRae's adventures are certainly reflected in her music and script. Her experiences unfold with a degree of candid intimacy, with moments of soul baring, but ultimately it is her lively and catchy songs that will captivate you. Her tongue-in-cheek humour, along with her music, will captivate you and are bound to hold your interest and have you chuckling, while tapping your feet and wanting more.

The Russians of Barcelona
Sophia MacRae sings lead on vocals, plays saxophone and clarinet. Photo: H. Radford.


Last year, she wrote and produced her first cabaret show From Barcelona to Britannia in the Cabaret Fringe at La Boheme Bar. She said, "This year is a re-development. The story is once again about my time in Barcelona, but this time I have chosen to talk more about the Russians in the show, because I realised that I should re-write the show and add some new songs to tell the people more about them. I love them so very much because they were such real characters and were so funny."

The Russians of Barcelona is based on a true story, "with only the names being changed to protect the guilty," said MacRae. "As Creative Consultant, Peter Thorpe provided invaluable advice. All the funny bits are his."

MacRae narrates and sings lead on vocals, plays saxophone and clarinet, backed by three of Adelaide's top musicians:Brenton Tregloan on guitar and banjo, Aaron Nash on keyboards, and a real lively Russian on drums and washboard, Yuri Markov. Their catchy music, all composed by MacRae, consists of ragtime jazz, swing, reggae, slow blues, Latin and some funky music.

The Russians of Barcelona
Sophia and percussionist, Yuri Markov and guitarist, Brenton Tregloan. Photo: H. Radford.


If you are not familiar with Sophia MacRae, she has led a varied musical career. She gained a musical degree in 1990's. Her first job was in the SA Police Band as a clarinet player. Seeking more experience as a freelance jazz player and playing musical theatre she moved to Melbourne to work . Later she joined a cruise ship and sailed the world playing saxophone, clarinet and flute in a show band. The ship stayed overnight in Barcelona where she met a tight-knit group of Russian musicians from St. Petersburg, who played old-time ragtime music, ("they called it "the devil's music,") in the streets for the tourists.

MacRae said, "Barcelona had just hosted the Summer Olympic Games and had re-established itself as the city to check out in Europe. The Berlin Wall was coming down. There was a little thaw in East/West relations, which was helped along with the dissolving of the Soviet Union. Consequently, many Russians took the opportunity to travel."

What MacRae loved about playing with the Russian street musicians was the interaction with their audience. She said, "playing on the streets, we got to see all types of people from the cruise ships, from the UK, US, Europe and Australia. No matter where they were from, they were into having a good time and would dance in the street. However, there were times when it was very difficult, and was emotionally draining as I didn't speak Spanish or Russian. When the Russians argued they broke off into Russian. That took a while to get use to. Eventually I managed to speak a little Russian, but despite the difficult times I am really glad I did it. I don't regret a single moment."

The Russians of Barcelona
This cabaret is based on a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.


MacRae reflects her experiences in her music and her script. This is not a fake show. She puts on a real show, with some fantastic music, and some spontaneity, which makes it a lot of fun.

Speaking of spontaneity, MacRae managed to add some authenticity to her show with her sharing some vodka with her "Russian musicians". She made a toast and acknowledged the vodka was courtesy of K.I. Distillery. This small South Australian business on Kangaroo Island kindly sponsored her cabaret. As we are all aware, companies such as K.I. Distillery are crucial in making our Adelaide Fringe the success it is. Further details about this sponsor can be found here.

**** out of *****
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Why? Macrae reflects her experiences in her cabaret music and her script. This is not a fake show. She puts on a real show, with some fantastic music, and some spontaneity, which makes it a lot of fun.
When: Fridays 7.00 pm, Feb. 13th, 20th, 27th, Mar 6th.
Phone: 1300 621 255
Where: La Boheme, 36 Grote Street, Adelaide
Cost: Adult : $25. Con. BankSA, TRE $20.
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