Reviews: Frisky & Mannish, and Shoshana Bean

by Jane

Being the terrible, terrible reviewer that I am, I may have walked in on Frisky & Mannish’s School Of Pop.  It was a stupid Cabaret plan: Stephen Schwartz finishing at 8, Frisky & Mannish starting at 8:15, yeah I would be getting there just scraping in, but I would make it!  Then Schwartz finished just shy of 8:30.  And I ran out during the curtain call.

Yes, I ran out of a curtain call, and showed up to another show late.  So late they wouldn’t even let me to my table, but I was relegated to the benches at the back.  I still feel guilty about it.  And sad I missed the first 15 minutes of the show, because it was great!  So maybe I shouldn’t review a show I don’t see all of…. and maybe I shouldn’t admit I reviewed a show I didn’t see all of, but I  did.

Shoshana Bean was interesting.  I think the fact that I spelt her name wrong while I was writing my review today shows you how much of a fan I am.  I’m not a fan.  And not because I actively dislike her, but because I didn’t really know who she was other than recognising her name as a Wicked replacement.  But I was offered reviewer tickets, and you may have noticed that’s not something I really turn down.  I did have a quick listen to her album in the couple of days before the show, and it was not my type of music, and as it got closer to the show my exhaustion started to take over, and I wasn’t sure if I was even going to last the 11 o’clock show.  But I am so glad I did!  I was really really surprised.  They were just a fun dancing band, a really good cover band – you didn’t really get anything particularly about Bean (although I did love the song she sung from her second album, and she does have a stunning voice), but I had a good time having silly fun.

I don’t know how much my crazy dancing was appreciated by some of the fangirls, but I did move from the front to the side part way through, and that’s how I’m going to enjoy the show.  And I wasn’t the only one, there were some others getting into it as well!

Reviews after the jump.

This review originally appeared on www.australianstage.com.au

Frisky & Mannish’s School of Pop is a lesson in popular-music and its artists, particularly classics over the past 30 years. Not only a dissection and study of the music itself, where we learn about the presence of horror themes or literary merit of these songs, but also filled with public service lessons, such as Children: Just Say No (“I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”)

This show is hilarious in terms of musical arrangements and reinterpretations, impersonations, and in how close to home the school assembly format hits: anyone who has had to sit through untalented visitors to the school trying to “connect” with the students by expressing themselves through songs will be shuddering with the thought of having to sit through that ever again.

Fortunately, Felicity Fitz-Frisky (Laura Corcoran) and Hansel Amadeus Mannish (Matthew Jones) are very talented and very clever. Both sing (and occasionally dance) their way through a variety of musical styles and characters, with Frisky taking lead vocals and Mannish on the keyboard. Corcoran has a wonderful voice when she allows it to show, and when it is not showing, it is because she is presenting one of her brilliant imitations, such as Lilly Allen’s interpretation of a Noel Coward song. Lest anyone think this is a one-sided affair, though,Mannish also gets in on the act, as with Noel Coward’s interpretation of a Lilly Allen song.

Some jokes did take too much set up time for very little payoff – in particular, it seemed excessive to go to the effort of pulling out audience members just for a small joke of pop-stars under the Sorting Hat being assigned into their Spice Girl house. However, overall the show was a sparkling expose on the shear ridiculousness of some characters and compositions of popular music.

Particular highlights included Lady Gaga on Dancing with the Stars, and showing the effects of marijuana on female songwriters aged between 20 and 35 in the 80s and 90s: “Like… dude. What if GOD… was one of US?!” “You mean, just a stranger on a bus?! Just a slob, like one of US?” Kids: Don’t do drugs.

At least a somewhat working knowledge of popular culture is needed to appreciate this show. It doesn’t need to be deep: if I wasn’t informed I was being taught about the Pussycat Dolls’ appreciation of British Seaside Humour, I would have never picked that what I was listening to was not, in fact, an old British comedy song, but Pussycat Doll’s lyrics. Perhaps that adds to the experience all the more!

Class is dismissed with a mash-up (one of many), including audience participation on So Long, Farewell (Adelaide “shat on Melbourne”Frisky announced), and our teachers telling us we may need a refresher over the remaining Adelaide shows, and our friends definitely need their lessons. And Frisky and Mannish are your must-have popular music lesson of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival; even if their side-splitting analogies mean you will never listen to the radio in quite the same way again.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival presents Frisky and Mannish’s School of Pop by Laura Corcoran and Matthew Jones.  In the Banquet Room.

This review originally appeared on www.australianstage.com.au

Late Nights In the Banquet Room at this year Adelaide Cabaret Festival have been about removing the tables and chairs, putting those cabaret stories and narratives aside, and bringing out the dance floor: Shohsana Bean is no exception. Rather than sing the Broadway tunes the star ofWicked and Hairspray is probably best known for, Bean sings a funky collection of primarily 60s rock.

With Lyndon Gray on bass, Sam Leske on guitar, Andrew Davis on drums, and musical director James Sampliner on the keys, Bean shows off her killer voice and gives all band members an opportunity to shine. While it is clearly Bean’sshow, she is backed by a brilliant and talented band that knows how to party, and get to show off how well they play.

Most of the audience was made up of Bean’s young Adelaide fans – and after their success with the “Bring Shoshana Bean To Adelaide” facebook group, this was a night and an idol they weren’t going to forget. But for those of us who didn’t come into the show as one of her huge fans, the fun in the performance comes from just listening to and dancing along with the music.

Slowing down the show with a couple of numbers off each of her debut and upcoming albums gave a variety to the show which allowed Bean to give us the most of her range. The atmosphere in the room mitigated some minor sound-balance issues, particularly with a too-loud guitar.

Those who go to the show expecting to get the cabaret treatment, with Bean sharing stories and a little bit of her life, will be disappointed. But go in just wanting to dance away the last weekend of the Cabaret Festival, and then you will have a great time.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Harvest Rain Theatre Company and Arts Asia Pacific present Late Nights In the Banquet Room with Shoshana Bean. Musical director James Sampliner on keys, Lyndon Gray on Bass and Sam Leske on guitar.

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