27 July 2011

Review: The best (and worst) of Queenie van de Zandt

The best (and worst) of Queenie van de Zandt
The Incubator
24 July 2011

Queenie Van de Zandt isn't famous. Given she's worked on our stages for years, been nominated for awards and appeared with Georgie on All Saints, her ability to walk about anonymously lies somewhere between a surprise and a disappointment. But we really have to be thrilled, because she may not have created this gorgeous and funny cabaret had her career been different.

The best (and worst) of is Queenie's reflection on over 20 years in the biz. Starting with a montage of photos from performances since 1978 (she was 8), she takes us through her highlights, and time has given her permission to laugh at, and even love, some of the lows she's faced.

There were shocking hair cuts, producers threatening that she'd never work again, wonderfully fucked up auditions and a tendency to audition for roles that were never for her:  She didn't get waify Fantine, but covered Mme ThĂ©nardier, and the lack of dance skills really did stop her getting Meg Giry and Anita. Fortunately persistence does pay off and she's consistently worked ever since. She even survived Eureka.

Anyone who saw her in iOTA and Craig Ilots' Smoke and Mirrors knows that Queenie's rich voice can silence a room and this intimate show gives her the opportunity to sing the kind of songs that that character performers tend to miss out on, but voices like hers deserve. And there's an album called "Amazon Woman" if you want more.

Her songs are wonderful, but what makes you totally love her are her pants-wetting stories. (It's not a metaphor, and the pants wetting is nowhere near the most embarrassing story.) Queenie offers a hilarious peek into the world behind the curtains and reminds us that sometimes the better stories are not the rehearsed and scripted ones we get tickets for.

The Melbourne Cabaret Festival is in its second year at the South Melbourne Town Hall and ran for less than a week. The best (and worst) of Queenie Van de Zandt only had three performances, but it will appear again and next time it's around, don't hesitate because it's the kind of warm and loving show that you leave feeling better than when you went in.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com

This was projected onto the South Melbourne Town Hall each night. Totally wonderful.

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