Under the Influence – Class of Cabaret Grads – Cabaret Festival – Artspace – 4K

By Tom Eckert


For the uninitiated, the Class of Cabaret is a project of Kim Spargo; a name we are seeing more and more due to her own shows as well as high profile collaborations with people such as the directors of Adelaide’s festivals. A program where hand-picked high-schoolers who are already displaying burgeoning talent (and there seems to be no shortage of them) are taken in and mentored, examining their influences and cultivating their style.
From this select group, one auditions and the creme-de-la-creme are chosen for the graduates show.
Here are presented this year’s graduates; Ella Lawry, Bethany Hubmayer, Kate Lewis, Jego Loreto and Lauren Greco.

It is lucky I was able to find this information as background explanation during the show left perhaps a little to be desired in favour of getting down to brass tacks. This meant it took a little while to work out who was who and for the title to click. But once the full house got into the swing of it; the performers having to initially overcome an acoustically dry room and perhaps some subtle first show jitters that if anything made the entire cast more endearing, we discovered that these are no mere teenage-star aspirants, but performers with the pipes of professionals and all the vibrancy of youth.
What we get is an exploration of the influences, motivations and stories of these five up-and-comers with dreams that range from name-in-lights New York to doing anything to make their mother proud.

Ella Lawry is a dynamo of genre-fusion practically bursting at the seams with jazz, funk and pop. Practically bouncing around the stage one has to wonder how she keeps all that energy in, but then you see her head of hair and you work out where it all must go. Kicking things off with a medley of her own devising seamlessly overlaying Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and a plethora of others you realise she’s no mimic and that there is a seriously musical brain at work here. With a rock solid style of her own, musical sense and wit she brings a pointed intelligence to everything she touches.

Bethany Hubmayer, as the only mezzo in a field of darker voices capitalises on a brighter tone to reach heights that the the others can’t touch. With a strong upper register she summons images of the diva under lights. This doesn’t however come with any sacrifice, showing her flexibility and range with an emotive rendition of ‘How to Return Home’ on the back of a story of the dissonance of coming hone after travels abroad.

Kate Lewis is a rock, belting out show stoppers like ‘The Life of the Party’ on the back of personal rendition of Sara Bareilles ‘Uncharted’. Hers is a story that speaks to all those unsure of what they are doing with themselves, which, lets be honest, we’re all still wrestling with even if we don’t care to think how long ago it was we finished school.

Jego Loreto is every girls dream. A natural born lady killer, he loves his mother, has has voice like and angel (not to mention he is a multi-instrumentalist, like most if these performers seem to be) and looks positively lethal in a suit. Representing the Y chromosome in this field of femme fatales he does us all proud. Clearly a banner-bearer for the crooner tradition, he melts hearts from a range of twenty metres with Billy Joel’s ‘She’s Always a Woman’. With sensitivity, dexterity and a range to rival all the great tenors he is a presence that really takes reckoning with and will only become more refined with age.

Lauren Greco states her aims from the outset. Nothing less than New York will do and I’ll be damned if she doesn’t make it. With a rich, longing affirmation of this via ‘Empire State of Mind’ this girl has the chops to bring down the house and make it look easy. This one has a voice that is mature well beyond her years that has you doing a double-take just to be sure that it’s actually coming out of the same body. There is soul and fire in her born of strong convictions and a life that simply is music. Her piece-de-resistance being a cover of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” which burns slow and intense and catches you by surprise when, after the last phrase fades, you find yourself breathing for the first time in three minutes.

Accompanied by the flawless Logan Watt, a frequent pianist-about-town. With the old-school cabaret format, a (much) later hour would have suited the tone of the show better. This is the kind of show that just reminds you what young talent is capable of. These kids are avatars for the attitudes of their age, coming to loggerheads with the problems of adulthood, still coloured by the rapidly dwindling naïvety of their earlier years they perfectly embody the transitions they are all inevitably facing. These are people to keep your eyes on as the stars of tomorrow. I may seem excessively full of praise but I believe they truly deserve it, with so much time ahead of them, they’ve taken on Adelaide with covers, I’d next like to see them on a bigger stage with their own material.

Kryztoff Rating 4K

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