“The Musical” is a particularly American artform. New York’s Broadway remains an influential centre, regularly launching young performers to global stardom. But some have to wait for their big break, so it pays to diversify your offerings. That must be why a veteran “Triple Threat” finds herself in Adelaide, presenting her show Broadway Barbara: Live in Australia!
The career of Barbara Dixon (alter-ego of Leah Sprecher, co-writer and co-director with Brad Stevens) – including such roles as “Singer” in Dance, you Bastards, Dance and the ensemble of 47th Street (not a typo) – has been … success adjacent. Now in her senior years, Barbara has rubbed shoulders with fame and made enemies, giving her some tales to tell.
The show gifted us moments where Judy-Garland-esque gravitas could rub against wackiness worthy of Lucille Ball. Sprecher fully committed to the physical demands of demonstrating dance routines, often to humorous effect.
Broadway Barbara’s schtick seemed quite new to many in the house, and our modest knowledge of Bob Fosse’s famous (and eccentric) dance steps limited some audience interaction. (However, audiences might be inspired to go away and do some research!)
No matter, as a seasoned pro, Barbara knows how to work a room. Knowing direction imbues the show with the fast pace and attitude of New York City. We could hear of some misadventure, and then Dixon could quickly lift the energy, earning solid laughs with rapid-fire, bawdy quips.
Barbara is backed by a well-rehearsed three-piece band, capable in a variety of musical styles. Quality offerings relating to her career struggle and desire for success ranged from Eminem, to ABBA, to Money Makes the World Go Around from Cabaret.
Musical Director Dave McEvoy (also on keys) has devised novel medleys that allow Sprecher to show Barbara’s different facets and moods. Drums by John McDermott could range from aggressive strikes to introspective work with brushes as needed, and Milush Piochaud added dextrous and muscular bass to the mix.
Dripping with sequins and excess, Barbara sure puts the “Broad” in Broadway, ensuring that Adelaide Cabaret Festival 2023 kicked off in fine style. Festivals mean that quality acts have short seasons, and you only have 4:30pm and 7:45pm left on Saturday 10 June to witness this star turn.
Broadway Barbara: Live in Australia!
Banquet Room – Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Performance: Friday 9 June 2023 – 6.00pm
Season continues to 10 June 2023 (4.30pm | 7.45pm)
Information and Bookings: www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au
Image: Broadway Barbara – photo by Chris Fore
Review: Jason Whyte