Performance Review: Like the sun in Miami, always guaranteed to deliver!
Talk about returning to have another ‘stab’ at something! Vivienne McKee and her trusty ‘Crazy Christmas Cabaret’ team are back at Tivoli’s Glassalen with a good old-fashioned murder-mystery, ‘Who Killed Don Calzone?’
If the Calzone name sounds familiar, it’s because it was also at the centre of last year’s show, ‘Tell Me About It’. That’s right, the 39th Crazy Christmas Cabaret is a sequel – a first for the long running series.
Back in business
As you may recall, the ‘Crazy Christmas Cabaret’ was forced to shut down halfway through its two-month run last year due to COVID-19.
Against this backdrop it therefore seems rather logical for McKee to be revisiting Miami, the 1980s and the Calzone Family for this year’s show. There was simply too much untapped comedic potential yet to be extracted.
As the cast appeared for the opening number ‘We’re Still Standing’ (a take on Elton John’s popular ‘80s track) wearing colourful tracksuits and other era-appropriate gear, you immediately sensed their joy of being back where they belonged and back in business.
And if you missed out on last year’s show, fret not, since the first five to ten minutes of ‘Who Killed Don Calzone?’ is dedicated to recapping and recreating the most memorable scenes from last year, including a repeat of the hilarious aerobics musical number (think men in tight orange leotards and mullet wigs).
A whodunnit free-for-all
With the stage set and the audience already in stitches, we pick up the story four years after the events of ‘Tell Me About It’. The Calzone children, who were forced into a witness protection program in Denmark, return to Miami following the suspicious death of their father Don Calzone.
The questions on everyone’s lips is a) who will take over as the new Don or Dona and b) who killed him (it is a murder mystery, after all).
Since everyone we meet along the way seems to have a motive, the answer to that last question gets more and more muddied.
Heart and soul
Not that it matters too much, but the plot of the ‘Crazy Christmas Cabaret’ has never been hugely important, as it’s the actors and colourful characters they play, as well as the jokes, satire, improv and musical numbers, which make the show so unique.
Take for example the seasoned pros Vivienne McKee, David Bateson, Andrew Jeffers and Katrine Falkenberg. They are the heart and soul of the show – so much so that you couldn’t imagine a ‘Crazy Christmas Cabaret’ without them in it. Their ability to drop effortlessly in and out of the many characters they play always impresses, and when they riff off each other, it’s where a lot of the comedy gold happens.
Exhibit A: the scene where McKee and Bateson pull an unassuming audience member onto the stage – a much-loved ‘Crazy Christmas Cabaret’ tradition. Without going into too much detail – let’s just say it involves an intimacy coach armed with a yellow card – you can tell that they play this out a little differently every night, but the end result is always the same with the crowd in laughing fits.
Arise Sir Knudsen
In Kevin Kiernan-Molloy, McKee has found a new crowd favourite. The Australian actor demonstrates both his versatility and comedy chops. His rendition of the flamboyant mob boss, the Cuban, is up there with the funniest characters ever to grace Glassalen.
An honourable mention must go to newcomer Mikkel Hoe Knudsen who steps in to replace the sizeable shoes vacated by Jefferson Bond. Knudsen mostly cut his teeth in musicals, and his smooth tenor vocals add star factor to the various musical numbers. But comedy is the bread and butter of the ‘Crazy Christmas Cabaret’, and against the veterans he was more than capable of holding his own.
For this writer, being back at Glassalen for the first time in three years felt in many ways like a happy and much needed reunion.
Of course not all the jokes and musical numbers were sharp and on point, but in the grand scheme of things this is a show you don’t wanna miss!
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