Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2015: Tinderella

MCF_TinderellaThese days, singles have plenty of ways to find a date thanks to technology. There’s facebook, various websites, and the somewhat infamous Tinder. McCallum’s use of this platform to meet men of sometimes quite dubious quality, informs her first solo cabaret show; Tinderella. Her performance, packed with quality music and voyeuristic laughs, will make this show a festival highlight for those lucky enough to spend a night (well, 65 minutes) with her in this short season.

McCallum shows herself adept at combining stories of her dating trials with music and comedy. McCallum made a positive first impression on me through her short spot at the festival’s opening gala. Tinderella has shown me more; I now think she’s a hybrid of the vocal talents of Gillian Cosgriff and the sardonic wit of Judith Lucy.

While The Supremes may believe in the show’s opening track You Can’t Hurry Love, McCallum’s Mum doesn’t, which is why McCallum is taking all the matchmaking help she can get. Towards this end, McCallum’s “Tinder Phone” is loosed on the audience following a brief Tindroduction (you can have that Noni) of how they should consider men’s profiles and choose possible matches. We would follow the progress of this at various times in the show, these interludes often providing good laughs.

The musical offerings range widely, charting a course from Nash and Weill’s I’m a Stranger Here Myself to Beyonce. McCallum showed both that she has her own voice and can reproduce the sound of divas such as Barbara Streissand and Liza Minelli. I particularly enjoyed McCallum’s ability to guide the audience along the boundary between laughter and sympathy, as seen in her rendition of Eddie Perfect’s The IKEA Song, and the linking her faulty gaydar to frustrated desires for “The boy next door”. By not allowing hopes and disappointments to get too extreme, the direction of Alister Smith ensures proceedings were focused and punchy, and kept anecdotes mostly within the humorous life lessons area for an amusing, and well put together evening.

Well, mostly that applies. The inclusion of a news story about a woman’s death as a result of a Tinder date leads into the Nick Cave creation Where The Wild Roses Grow. And then we just merrily skip along from this darker side of Tinder and some of the men who lurk there. There seemed to be an opportunity to deal with an important issue of managing risk in modern dating, and glossing over it made the segment feel superficial, and much less part of the whole than the rest of the show.

This is a pretty minor shortcoming weighed against all of the positives, mentioned only because I’d like to see just how good this show can be. Pianist and sometime guitarist and backing vocalist Andrew Kroenert impresses, collaborating attentively with McCallum’s vocals.  He also played the male characters from accounts of McCallum’s dates, earning laughs that suggested the words and portrayal faithfully recaptured certain archetypes from the world of dating.

McCallum has put together a very enjoyable show. She’s also very savvy in marketing it to connectivity-obsessed generations as – on top of following all of her social media – you can be her online matchmaker for a day. It’s a short season, so if you’re looking for a match for a night of cabaret, look at Noni McCallum, and swipe right.

Melbourne Cabaret Festival 2015: Tinderella
The Loft – Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Performance: Thursday 25 June 2015
Season continues to 27 June 2015
Bookings: www.melbournecabaret.com

For more information, visit: www.melbournecabaret.com for details.

Image: Noni McCallum in Tinderella

Review: Jason Whyte

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