Cabaret is the perfect medium for performers to showcase their talents. It allows them to highlight their strengths and reveal performing skills previously unknown to audiences through the roles in which they’ve been cast. Too often though, the opportunity is missed through poor musical choices or the lack of a director frequently resulting in too many unedited ideas or self-indulgence.
Siblingship is a perfect example of a superbly crafted cabaret, honed to perfection and performed impeccably by the artists for whom it was created.
From the time they could walk Daniel Assetta and his little sister, Chiara, knew they would be entertainers. Daniel the exhibitionist and Chiara his adoring sibling happy to be in his shadow as long as she was sharing the spotlight as evidenced by f\delightful snippet from home movies of their earliest performances captured by their proud parents and relatives. Even in these charming videos, cleverly edited to preface the show and cover costume changes, their affection for each other is palpable and their talent undeniable.
Both are now assured, highly trained, performers with significant musical theatre careers. Daniel is currently touring as the alternate Tony in Opera Australia’s current production of West Side Story, after stints in Wicked, The Book of Mormon and Cats, having won the Rob Guest Endowment Award in 2015.
Chiara, after appearing on television in Dance Academy, So You Think You Can Dance, The Voice and X Factor Australia, made her professional musical Theatre debut this year in a different production of West Side Story, playing Teresita in Opera Australia’s, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour version.
However Siblingship doesn’t focus on their individual careers, rather, on their time together growing up. In fact, it is the news that Daniel has been successful in being cast in the national tour of Wicked that becomes the dramatic focal point of the show, forcing both to face the reality that if they are to achieve the success for which they’ve both worked so tirelessly, their relationship must inevitably change.
The show is beautifully written, brave, thoughtful, endlessly entertaining, and in places, quite moving, without ever becoming maudlin. The direction is impeccable making use of a clever lighting plot to focus the action. There’s not a wasted word or misstep as both performers effortlessly charm their audience, recreating acts they invented as children, scoring points off each other, and singing and dancing up a storm.
A medley sequence when they sort through songs looking for suitable wedding duet to sing at a friend’s wedding is hilarious as they discover plenty which shouldn’t be sung by siblings. Chiara does a terrific version of Kander and Ebb’s I Can’t Do It Alone as she tries to dissuade Daniel from cutting her from the act when he decides she’s superfluous.
Daniel does an amusing version of Maury Yeston’s Be Italian, mimicking the expected reaction of their parents to Chiara’s revelation that her new boyfriend is not Italian, and Drew Gasparini’s, A Little Bit Gay for a revelation of his own.
Not all the songs are from musicals however, and much of the success of the show is due to the clever choice of songs which allow the performers to express feelings more affectingly than they could with dialogue to advance their story. Many have been re-invented in lovely musical arrangements by Musical Director, Nicholas Griffin, who, together with musicians, Yianni Adams (guitar, Konrad Ball (Bass) and Charlie Kurthi (Drums) provides the classy accompaniment throughout.
The lyrics of Dianne Warren’s If I Could Turn Back Time, usually associated with Cher, but here, sung sensitively by Daniel, as a soulful expression of his regret for a thoughtless taunt, are revealed as thoughtful meditations. Similarly Chiara’s lovely treatment of Out Here on My Own, written by Lesley and Michael Gore for the film Fame, reveals her hesitation at facing her own destiny.
Both triple threat performers are equally at home singing close harmonies, dancing up a storm, and delivering dialogue, either dramatic or comedic, with equal conviction. However they’ve also had the professional savvy to collaborate with a clever writer in Tobias Madden, two imaginative and experienced directors in Scott Irwin and Danielle Barnes, and a top-class musical director and arranger in Nicholas Griffin.
The result is one of the classiest cabaret acts currently touring celebrating a rare and very special relationship. Certainly one not to be missed if you get the opportunity to see it.
The Q Theatre, 253 Crawford Street, Queanbeyan
Performance: 27 October 2019 – 7.30pm
Image: Daniel Assetta and Chiara Assetta star in Siblingship – photo by David Hooley
Review: Bill Stephens OAM