Finucane & Smith can justly claim to have planted the seed of the flourishing burlesque in Canberra when they presented their lavishly staged, eye-brow-raising The Burlesque Hour in The Street Theatre nearly 20 years ago.
Since then, they’ve continued to present a succession of provocative variety shows around the city in venues which include The Street Theatre, Canberra Theatre Centre and the Tuggeranong Arts Centre, each production notable for the excellence of presentation and the quality and skills of the featured artists.
Upholding that reputation, the current edition of Finucane & Smith’s Dance Hall is being presented in the Tuggeranong Arts Centre where the tiny theatre has been converted into an intimate velvet draped cabaret room.
However, this presentation varies from previous editions of the show in that in addition to their own extraordinary feature artists, Finucane & Smith spotlight several Canberra performers including 2022 Canberra Critic’s Circle Award recipient, Jazida.
Recently named this year’s recipient of the Melbourne Fringe Living Legend Award, Maude Davey was the compere for the show, her elegant appearance a convenient cover for some sly wickedness, including her very technical, very funny, lecture for intending vampires.
Maude explained at the beginning that the show would be presented in two sections. The first half would be the “PG” section, still risqué, but providing the opportunity for those with delicate sensitivities to leave at interval. The “Adults Only” second half was meant for the more daring. No one left at interval.
Described by an Edinburgh newspaper as “the sexiest hula hoop artist alive” – rubber-faced, Bede Nash, lived up to that description with an outstandingly clever hula hoop routine, which he topped later in the program with some amazing hand-stand feats.
A practising yoga teacher and cabaret artiste, Chris Burgess, thrilled with his unique rendition of the Lieber and Stoller classic, Is that All There Is, before conducting a hilarious group yoga session to commence the second half of the program.
Prominently featured in the first half of the program, 16-year-old Wiradjuri and Tongan singer and The Voice contestant, Tahalianna Sowward-Mahanga was the first of the Canberra artists to perform and had the audience entranced with her mesmerising vocals.
Already touring nationally with Finucane & Smith’s Dance Hall, but still proudly Canberran, exotic dancer Jazida, captivated with her extraordinary ability to artfully remove sections of her gorgeous costumes.
The highlight among her routines being an artistic presentation for which her entire costume consisted of two huge ostrich feather fans.
Ostrich feather fans were also much in evidence with Jazida’s Fabulous Fan Dancers, a troupe of diverse artists who delight with their graceful routines with feathers and silks which punctuate the program.
Finucane & Smith’s Dance Hall
Tuggeranong Arts Centre, 137 Reed Street, Greenway (Tuggeranong, ACT)
Performance: Wednesday 30 November 2022
Season continues to Friday 2 December 2022
For more information, visit: www.finucaneandsmith.com for details.
Image: Maude Davey (supplied)
Review: Bill Stephens OAM