VELVET - A DIVINE DISCOTHEQUE CIRCUS.
Director and creator. Craig Ilott. Musical Director Joe Accaria. Choreographer. Lucas Newland. Set and costume Design. James Browne. The Playhouse. Canberra Theatre Centre. May 4 – May 13. 2017
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
Two years have passed since I first saw Velvet in a marquee in the East End parklands of Adelaide during the city’s Fringe Festival. The show was already sold out and being hailed as the hit of the Fringe, the powerhouse event that everybody had to see. It wasn’t an ambit claim. Velvet had sheer WOW Factor. With its pulsating disco beat and stunning array of vocal, aerial, acrobatic and hula hoop acts, Velvet blew audiences away. They clapped and cheered; they swayed and jigged in their seats and after the Boogie Wonderland Finale and Marcia Hines’ crowd raising Last Dance, they rose to their feet to dance. Smooth Velvet had turned to a vibrating, shimmering , glittering celebration of being alive. Disco delirium had rocked the cotton socks off the audience that screamed for more.
|Rechelle Mansour, Marcia Hines, Kaylah Attard and|
aerialist Stephen Williams
After two years Velvet is satin slick. The show is more streamlined with colour sequenced disco lighting. One act has gone and the show has upgraded from a more modest though electric Fringe event to a highly sophisticated, polished and assured part circus, part variety, part concert extravaganza This is world class Las Vegas glitz, entertainment that brought a more sedate matinee audience to its feet to move with the groove. Perhaps the Playhouse of the Canberra Theatre Centre invited more formality than an evening performance in a tent at Adelaide’s Fringe, but in the intimate Playhouse, Velvet was world class with acts that could take the nightclub, cabaret and circus world by storm.
A simple narrative threads the show together from Disc Jockey and percussionist Joe Accaria’s invitation to succumb to the beat of his flashing, dazzling world . Straight man, Tom Oliver, finds himself thrust into a world of abandon and wonderment. Accompanied by two stunning Sirens of the stage, singer/dancers Rechelle Mansour and Kaylah Attard, the innocent finds himself lured into the miraculously balanced world of sinewy and controlled gymnast Mirko Koeckenberger, graceful, strong and erotic aerialists, Emma Goh and Stephen Williams and amazing hula hoop swiveller, Craig Reid, with his chubby Richard Simmons take-off and mischievous, boyish grin. Finally, bemused and bewildered he is met by the golden Goddess of song and his guide to enlightenment and transformation. the legendary voice of rock and soul, Marcia Hines.
With a musical mix of old and new to accompany the acts and guide the young man on his journey of awareness and liberation, percussionist Accaria keeps the tempo with tempestuous drumming and a flair for the bop and the beat. Backing singers Mansour and Attard keep up a shimmering and shaking routine with lightning costume changes. Every act is a winner, but the highlight for me was Reid’s phenomenal artistry with hula hoops that spun and twirled about his body to his every command. In disco style a kaleidoscope of incandescent colour whirled from head to toe as he kept the jive with gravity defying delight.
Velvet explodes with a ricochet of energy culminating in Oliver’s transformation, first at the hands of a black leather clad dominatrix and then with all abandonment of conservatism. Sister Sledge’s He’s The Greatest Dancer gets the whole house grooving and Marcia Hines brings them to their feet with Last Dance as the ultimate celebration of unfettered abandonment.Velvet has worked its magic. Boogie on down for the intoxicating revelry. It’s a blast!