Last Saturday night the iconic Wonderland Fun Park Spiegeltent in Docklands played host to the spectacular Lowdown Hokum Orchestra and Burlesque Revue.
Creator of the show ‘Blues man’ Doc White, also on vocals and guitar, conceived of this cleverly constructed and very entertaining musical pulling together a group of talented artists to see his vision come to life. Using a variety of songs by different artists a storyline takes shape.
Supported on stage by one of Australia’s premier jazz stylists,, the vivacious Nichaud Fitzgibbon, the story unfolds through song and narration delivered by director Mark Cutler, taking us on fantasy filled ride further enriched by exotic performances by burlesque queens Mimi Le Noire, Bettie Bombshell and Minnie Monroe.
Mimi Le Noire and Nichaud Fitzgibbon
The story line follows two people who meet as teenagers in school and form both a musical and personal connection that begins to deteriorate as they become successful. They loose contact, before a chance meeting 25 years later reunites the pair and they discover they still feel that initial chemistry and want to keep making music together. The bump n’ grind of the sexy burlesque performances give an edginess to the show end enhances the emotional impact of each song.
Mimi Le Noir and Minnie Monroe.
With an outstanding band in Alex Black on violin and mandolin, Peter Howell on double bass, Tony Martin on drums, Aaron Searle on sax, clarinet and guitar as well as an extra special performance by Mike Rudd on vocals and harmonica the atmosphere created by the show proved to be an audience winner.
Alex Black and Aaron Searle
Regardless of whether you are a die hard fan or not, most people in the western world and beyond have been touched by the music of Cat Stevens.
It is said that in this country one in four people in the seventies and eighties had a Cat Stevens album in their collection. Even though I was one of the other three only because I wasn’t a collector I loved his music and saw him as a spunk.
When he changed his name and adopted a religion I thought it a little desperate and strange. But that was before I became desperate and strange. He then morphed into someone else and seemingly disappeared. Regardless, I have been hearing his songs and music through the communal airways every since.
Last night I had the pleasure of experiencing Darren Coggan and Co’s production PEACE TRAIN The Cat Steven’s story at the prestigious Playhouse Theatre at Melbourne Art Centre.
This production is polished and enchanting. Beautifully synchronised music, song, story and movement produce outstanding performances by Darren and is accompanying band.
Darren Coggan is a powerhouse of talent with infectious enthusiasm. Through song and storytelling he transported me through time and space to Soho London in 1966. I found myself a fly on the wall of 18 year old Steven Demetre Georgiou aka Cat Stevens in his red bedroom, baring witness to the creation of a budding Rock Star. And so it was as Cat’s story unfolded, manifesting vivid imagery that felt authentic.
At the end of the show Darren informed us that a lot of his storyline was given to him through personal conversations with Cat aka Yusuf Islam and his brother David who walked with Cat, managing the business side, through the years of super stardom.
Above and beyond is the soulful and insightful lyrics and music of Cat Stevens, sung in perfect pitch by Darren Coggan who along with his fellow performers commanded a standing ovation on opening night.
This is a magical story and entertaining show that is really worth catching.