MEGAN MULLALLY AND HER BAND NANCY AND BETH
Adelaide Cabaret Festival, June 9th 2019
The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is exciting because of the sheer range of performance that it brings to our wintery city – unlike some of the other festivals, you never truly know what you’re going to get, and it always has a feeling of fresh discovery.
We headed to Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt’s performance with their band Nancy and Beth flying completely blind, without any expectations or preformed ideas of what to expect. Combining two backgrounds of substantial comedic intelligence I guess I was expecting to laugh, but what I was not expecting was such heartfelt, sweet tunes amply backed by a talented collective and some creative, chair-supported dance stylings. They sure do love those chairs.
Their matching attire and synchronised dance moves evoked the classic vaudevillian stylings of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in Singing in the Rain’s “Fit as a Fiddle (and ready for love)”. Full of humour and physical expression, Mullaly and Hunt brought real life to the classic jazz, blues, country gospel and rap (the latter being the least of my personal favorites but demonstrates how this show is fiercely their own) whether it be sung upside down on their prized Walmart chairs or pretzel bent into contorted shapes. There was no air of pretence or posturing as ‘serious artists’, but the songs hit hard. Emotional high points were the MLK Song (originally by Mavis Staples and based on the words of Martin Luther King Jnr) and Harbor Lights (Dinah Washington), complete with flickering LED gloves. Comedic relief and added star power was provided by Mr Mullally, Nick Offerman, who gave a spirited band introduction by pairing members with Adelaide famous church landmarks (and Megan’s twin spires AKA St Peter’s cathedral). Band performers Datri Bean (keyboard and vocals), Joe Berardi (drums), Roy Williams (guitar and vocals – and paired with a serial killer rather than a church!), Andrew Pressman (bass and vocals) and Petra Haden (strings and vocals) were a lush completion to an unexpectedly fun and festive performance.
(Review by Sarah List)