artsHub Monday, July 23, 2012
The Fabulous Singlettes
By Eugenia Twomey
Cruise ships have given cabaret a bad name. It’s not until the emergence of more contemporary performers in the genre (Taylor Mac, Tim Minchin etc.) that audiences have returned their bums to cabaret seats. So to those unfamiliar with the genre, unless it had a sexy burlesque leaning, one’s mind probably conjured a failing piano bar, where elevator music, bad comedy and uninspired vocals went to die.
Then, in storm The Fabulous Singlettes. Leave behind any such fears about outdated and tired cabaret, because these Queens of the Beehive are nothing of the kind. Dressed for the part, in self-professed ‘Tropical Sunset’ a-line, fuchsia and orange silk frocks, these ladies are all-singing, all-dancing, solid gold vocal entertainers.
With no former knowledge of the trio, I was somewhat curious as to what was in store. I was sat among a full Chapel off Chapel audience brimming with Baby Boomers, politely lubricated with pre-theatre beverages, ready to be impressed. We were certainly not to be disappointed.
Naomi Eyers, Melissa Langton and Diane Dixon opened gloriously with ‘The Shoop-Shoop’ song, which launched the evening’s repertoire of back-to-back 60’s classics and plenty of kitsch and kinky chat for which the group is renowned: ‘My Guy’; ‘Be My Baby’; ‘Needle in a Haystack’; ‘When You Walk In The Room’; and Lesley Gore’s ‘It’s My Party’ were among the crowd-pleasing numbers on the play list.
Throughout the solid 90 minute performance one’s ears were being pleasantly assaulted with some serious vocal talent and perfectly complementary band backing (whose musical highlight was the fabulously meaty instrumental interlude of the 70’s anthem, ‘Shaft’). Eyers has a masterful vocal range with an enduring power to her voice, and a ballsy stage act to match. Langton breathes originality into her buxom character, and endearingly communicates emotional nuance in song and action. Dixon plays her role as naïve nymphette to a tee, although is no shrinking violet when it comes to her flawless vocal delivery.
It would be remiss of me to ignore the 20 year history of The Fabulous Singlettes. Put simply, they are accomplished veterans of not only the Australian music circuit, but they have also enjoyed resounding UK and European fame built on performances with the likes of Tom Jones and others. When you share an audience with The Fabulous Singlettes you can expect a wonderful feast of nostalgia through song, where innuendo abounds and there’s plenty of “joie de vulva” for all to enjoy.
The Fabulous Singlettes
Chapel off Chapel
July 19 – 21
Melbourne Cabaret Festival
July 12 – 21
Friday, 20 July 2012
Written by Joanna Bowen
The Fabulous Singlettes may look like docile housewives from the 60s. Then they open their mouths. There’s too much talent and too much cheek to be kept inside, and it comes pelting out in incredible vocals, naughty and often downright dirty jokes, and delightfully daggy gaffs and dance moves. And somehow they pull this off with pizazz, outfits and hairdos impeccable at all times. These women really can multi-task.
The performers who bring us The Fabulous Singlettes have changed over the years, but we’re lucky enough to have one of the original girls with us for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival – the founding lady herself, Naomi Eyers. It’s such a delight to see her work the stage; her confidence, spot on timing and ability to nail slap-stick humour with a straight face and innocent expression are all to be marvelled at. From the beginnings of the trio in 1986, Eyers pursued a successful solo career on the West End, performing a wide range of jazz, rhythm and soul. Her voice is powerful, beautifully rich and full of character, and girl, she knows what to do with it.
Perfectly complementing Eyers’ dark brunette look, Melissa Langton is the buxom blonde and long-time member of this trio of fabulousness. I didn’t think I could love Langton more – then I discovered she was part of The Fabulous Singlettes when they played the three sisters in the version of Pirates of Penzance starring our very own Jon English, immortalised in 1994 for adoring generations to come.
Langton brings her brilliant theatricality to the stage as boldly as ever, and delights herself in shocking her audience into hysterics. Men sitting on the aisles… beware. Everyone else – watch for flying confectionery. Anything can happen with these ladies!
The youngest member, brought into the fold in 2008, is the gorgeous Diane Dixon. While Eyers brings the wisdom and talent of age, and Langton brings the hammed-up humour, Dixon provides the beauty and insincere innocence of (slightly more) youth. A delightful edge of her Motown history shows in Dixon’s delicious voice. While brilliant when she takes the spotlight, she also plays the perfect back-up girl – and that’s not meant as a backhanded insult! This show really captures the art of the girl group, with each member consummately playing her role to create a balanced,detailed whole.
The girls are supported by a live band who obviously love the show and their own roles. They provide the ideal musical backdrop for the Singlettes to traverse two decades’ worth of pop hits, sliding seamlessly from one to the next like they morph through their costume changes. From the Supremes to Aretha to Abba, covering hits like ‘Lady Marmalade’, ‘I Am Woman’, ‘Leader Of The Pack’ and ‘Do Wah Diddy’, The Fabulous SInglettes take us through a whirlwind of music that delights their whole audience, from teenagers to grandparents. The very best of the 60s and 70s, and some of its very worst, lives on splendidly, and even if you’re not a huge fan of the era, you’ll love this exuberant display of amazing vocals, fun humour and all-round talent.
The Best of the Rest…
Press quotes through the years..
“There is no escaping from enjoying yourself”
City Limits, London
Time Out, London
“High-energy, high-volume, high-heeled show!”
The Scotsman, Edinburgh
“The swinging 60s live on! And the revival is being led by a blistering trio of fun-loving girls, The Fabulous Singlettes. With their own blend of charm and comedy they pound out the sound of the Supremes and the Ronnettes with sheer delight. They are simply unforgettable. And like the chartbusters this trio is going to be around for a long, long time.”
Ivan Waterman, News of The World, London
“This show was simply brilliant.”
Festival Times, Edinburgh
“Don’t miss it!”Berlin Kurier
“Sheer Joy!…Tackily elegant. Gloriously Talented!”
The Age, Melbourne
An exuberant and beautifully harmonic celebration of retro”
The Advertiser, Adelaide
“A welcome,warm, sprightly and melodious night out”
The Times, London
“Groovy!”Die Tagszeitung, Berlin
” They harmonise impeccably and any one if them is capable of singing a lead song. Great songs!”
Adam Sweeting, The Guardian, London
“The Singletes do justice to every doo-lang and shoop-shoop….they’re likeable,talented and warmly recommended”
Mark Steyn, The Independent, London
“The best Australian export since Kylie Minogue”
Der Tagesspiegel, Hamburg
“Nothing I can say will prepare you for The Fabulous Singlettes experience”
The Glasgow Herald
“A gloriously tongue-in-cheek tribute to the legendary girl groups”.
“The entire evening was one big highlight of superb entertainment”
The South China Morning Post
“Entertainment of the first order”
Hong Kong Standard