So much to learn from Shazza

Last night, I hot-footed it over to South Melbourne with Fiona from Rushcrowds to see a crazy little show at the Butterfly Club. Shazza, The Bird from Broady had promised to teach us all there was to know about being a celebrity, in her latest show My Celeb Life. I thought it couldn’t hurt to get some tips on how to be all kinds of famous, and attended whole-heartedly and open-mindedly.

I’ve not been to the Butterfly Club before, and as such when we popped in for a drink before the show, I was both overwhelmed and completely delighted. The place is full. To the brim chockablock full. Full of stuff. The shelves are covered with trinkets, toys and statuettes and walls adorned with the most incredible collection of 70s portraits of big-eyed children, doe-eyed women and pictures of ships (yes, ships). The whole place was like a strange cross between the share-houses my friends and I lived in when we first hit the renters-circle, and my Nan’s front room, where ‘the good things’ were kept, her artificial flowers, the shell-art and the random mantel clocks and vases that were her pride and joy.

After a quick look around, we made our way into the showroom with a small crowd of eager punters. The theatrette was intimate (to say the least), with just enough room for the dozen or so rows of church pews and the tiny stage. The floors and pews creaked as we made our way in, and the front door rattled on its hinges as Shazza, big and bold and larger than life, barrelled into the room only moments after we’d all sat down.

Without much of a chance to catch her breath, or for us to catch ours, Shazza (Christie Cula-Reid) was up in our faces, declaring her (undeniable) hotness. And who could argue…the mullet, the leopard prints, and the red, red lippy created a Broady bird of the finest plumage.

In true Kath and Kim style, Shazza’s humour was both cringful and endearing. She was, of course, over the top, an obvious stereotype, but by the same token instantly recognisable and very likeable. Her story, the five steps to celebrity, hung together well, and was very, very funny. The crowd was roaring with laugher, stomping their feet and joining in with chants and songs.

Christie is a really talented chicky, and her cabaret-stylings of a great collection of classic 80s tracks (rewritten to highlight Shazza’s hotness) were enjoyable to listen to, and good for a giggle. Shazza can certainly hold a tune, and she can absolutely strut her stuff. She had all the moves.

Shazza is on stage at the Butterfly Club until Sunday, and Rushcrowds have some great ticket deals which you can check out here and here.

If you’re up for a slightly manic, very funny evening out, give it a go.

I’ve also got to say…check out the Butterfly Club, it’s amazing…Rushcrowds do lots of offers for their shows, and you can check out the club’s website here. A collector’s dream and a duster’s nightmare – it’s so worth a drop in for a drink and a look. I know for a fact I’ll be heading back the first chance I get for a cocktail and a rummage.

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Ladies and gentleman, kids of all ages…

Thanks to the kind folks at Rushcrowds, the boys and I made a spur of the moment decision to go along to Silvers Circus, Sunday just gone.  I was lucky enough to pick up a free double pass from Rushcrowds which meant that all I had to do was pay the kids’ way, making it a really affordable outing.

On entering the tent I realised that we were extra lucky, as we were shown to ringside seats. This meant that we were wonderfully close to the action. We were only centimetres away from being hit by flying hula hoops and rouge juggling balls and it made acts like the ‘Globe of Death’ particularly thrilling, being close enough to hear the crazy metal globe creak and sway as three motorbikes spun wildly inside it, sounding very much like a bottle full of angry bees.

I’ll admit, I mainly agreed to go on this outing because Oscar kept shouting ‘circus, circus, circus’ like a madman every time we drove past Southland shopping centre, but I’ve got to say, once I was there I had as much fun as the kids. It’s been a very long time since I went to the circus,  but the glitter and stage make-up, the costumes and general carny-culture immediately reminded me of what a big deal it is to go to the circus when you’re a kid. I was entranced and thoroughly entertained.

Evan was too cool for school…he’d been to the same show this time last year and as such he kept offering up spoilers, telling me what was coming next. Oscar was wide-eyed, absolutely transfixed. He laughed at the clowns and clapped along on cue, but more often than not he sat with eyes wide and his little hand covering his mouth agape,  a real mixture of enjoyment and trepidation. He had an absolute ball.

The show itself includes a great variety of acts, and is suitable for all ages. In keeping with circus-norm, there are no animals, just a lot of clever people.

The two-hour show was filled with juggling, extreme hula hooping, and magic tricks complete with white doves and beautiful vanishing magicians assistants.

There were insane daredevils too, which had me on the edge of my seat. Evan thought I was a real dag when I covered my eyes, quite certain that the showy young man running the ‘Wheel of Steel’ was going to plummet to his death. Evan assured me that his stumbles were all part of the act, but I still I wasn’t so sure. I was quietly relieved when the act was over and done with, his feet firmly planted back on the ground.

There really was something for all of us, and I’m really glad that we went. It was nice to do something a little unplanned on the weekend, and the boys really seemed to enjoy the afternoon out.

Check out the Silvers Circus website for show times. On the weekends, Silvers Circus run day-time shows, which are pretty perfect for the little ones. Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on Rushcrowds for discount tickets and free passes!

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Atop Mt. Ragged

I think I might make a habit out of this…

After work yesterday I wandered along to Fortyfive Downstairs, and proceeded down five (?) flights of stairs, a couple of floors underground to a most wonderful performance space. I was intent on discovering the answer to just what had happened atop Mt. Ragged, an answer sure to be buried within The Haunting of Daniel Gartell. Straightjacket Production, the play featured John Wood, Samuel Johnson and Marcella Russo. Reg Cribb’s play was skilfully directed by Lucy Freeman.

As usual, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the place or the performance but I can honestly say I was delighted by both. Fortyfive Downstairs is a not-for-profit organisation and in keeping with this, there is an immediate for the love of it feeling when you enter the space. A sneaky glass of red, enjoyed whilst listening to the actors warm up behind black curtains, was a great way to get out of work-mode and into a performing-arts headspace.

From the outset the piece is poetic, and as the title suggests, haunting. The dialogue throughout is fast-paced and well-considered, and John and Sam play opposite each other with just the right amount of intensity. Despite obvious differences between these two actors, the intimate interplay between Daniel Gartrell and Craig Castevich involves an impressive mirroring of each others’ characters. This was done with subtlety, adding a real depth and intrigue to the progress of the story. I’ve not see Marcella Russo perform before, but I was really drawn to her performance. She built a character that was both awkward and confident, shut-in but nonetheless wily.

Despite the intensity of this play, it’s obvious sorrow and frightening end, it is also really funny. All three stars have a quick, dry wit and this shows through in the cleverly humorous elements of the play.

At the end of the day, this play delivers a bit of a laugh, a touch of romance, stormy bush poetry and a whole lot of heartbreak.

It’s running until 12 June 2011 and you can get tickets from Fortyfive Downstairs. If you get in quick, Rushcrowds have a discount offer for tonight’s show, here.

Finally, if you’re up for a little giggle, here’s Samuel Johnson hamming it up a little (courtesy of Straightjacket Productions.)

Finally, finally (I almost forgot) make sure you watch the blog tomorrow for details of our June giveaway!

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Did you hear that Rumble?

It’s that time of week again, where I drag my work-from-home butt into a real-life office and spend the day working alongside flesh and blood human beings.

One of the really good things about doing the trek into town (asides from seeing my work crew) is that it makes going out in the evening a much more realistic proposition.

This week I’ve got tickets to go and see the play The Haunting of Daniel Gartell, starring John Wood, Samuel Johnson and Marcella Russo, showing at Fortyfive Downstairs.

I’m as much looking forward to seeing the venue as I am the play itself, it sounds like quite an interesting space, often used for exhibitions and performances of different types. The play itself seems quite intriguing too, the write-up going a little like this:

Under an ochre sky something happened at Mt. Ragged. The incident inspired celebrated bush poet Daniel Gartrell’s (John Wood) most analysed piece of verse … a poem that’s final verse has never been published. Now an enigma, Gartrell lives as a recluse in the suburbs, his only contact is with his daughter, Sarah (Marcella Russo).

Gartrell is at home, thinking very oblique thoughts when an emerging actor from Bondi, Craig Catevich (Samuel Johnson), knocks on his door. The ambitious and optimistic Castervich has been cast to play Gartrell in a biographical movie, and in his research for the role, is ready for anything …or so he thinks
Words by: Fortyfive Downstairs

I’ll let you know my take on it in the coming days, but if you’d like to check it out for yourself it’s running until 12 June 2011. You can get tickets from Fortyfive Downstairs, and Rushcrowds have a discount offer for tomorrow night’s show, here.

If you’ve got a little listening time, can I suggest that you check out Rumble (Underground). Launched yesterday, Rumble (Underground) is essentially a place to go to find some really interesting stories. Over time, the site will house a collection of podcasts, documenting conversations with interesting people – characters living and creating wonderful things, be that music, stories, art or other.

They’ve launched with two podcasts, well worth a listen. I’ll have a bit more of a chat about these throughout the week, but you can check them out here and here.

Stay tuned, plenty more to come this week!

A little bit cheeky.

I’m not quite sure where to start with my thoughts on How to Kill Your Husband… should I first mention the story, the talent, the orchestra or the general naughtiness of the show?

Maybe I’ll just start by marvelling at the fact that I have made it to two events in under a week. Now that’s a record. Much thanks to @fionak for making an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Photo: Uni of Melb Alumni

But enough self congratulations, it’s time to move on to the show itself. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve never been to an opera before, and How to Kill Your Husband did not disappoint as a suitable introduction.  Victorian Opera have bravely taken on a popular, modern source (Kathy Lette’s best-selling novel of the same name, published in 2007) and transformed it into a irreverent, yet slightly earnest operatic tale of two women in marital crisis.  From the outset the show has Jazz and Cass struggling to regain control of their unsatisfying, house-wifey lives, helped in no small part by Angel’s handy hints and cheeky intervention. Their husbands are unlikable in the most part, which of course is the point, although it is nice to see that Rory is somewhat redeemed by the end of the performance.

The talents in How to Kill Your Husband were most impressive.  I’m no expert in this style (not by a very long shot) but I did think that the casual operatic styling, quite heavily peppered with cabaret worked a treat.  Angel, played by Melissa Langton was outstanding, her cabaret voice the star of the show.  The casting of counter-tenor, Tobias Cole in the role of Studz (a particularly despicable character) was quite transfixing.  His incredibly high voice created a rather obvious contrast to the mysoginest, matcho role, adding a real sense of irony to his story. This was quite an intriguing element to the preformance.  A further, extra-special treat was the appearance of Christa Hughes as Bianca the sex therapist.  Her bawdiness made me both giggle and cringe, and her casting in this role made perfect sense.

As a little aside, I really enjoyed the fact that the Victorian Opera Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Richard Gill was positioned centre stage. It gave a kind of ‘big band’ feel to the performance, fitting as they were fronted by the huge voice of Langton.

I’d recommend How to Kill Your Husband as a great girls night out, although I’m sure the boys out there would enjoy it too providing they don’t take themselves or the show too seriously.  Similarly, I’d recommend this show as a really suitable introduction to opera…Victorian Opera should be commended.

The show is on at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne until 29 May 2011, and for an extra affordable evening out Rushcrowds have half-price tickets for this Thursday, 19 May 2011.  Click here for details and go along for the ride.

Does this make me a grown up?

I’m posting this nice and early today, as I won’t have time to post anything tonight and I want to brag about what I’ve got coming up this evening. I’d also like to tempt you a little.

I’ve got a day in the office, putting a little time into the day job after a pretty long break away. It’ll be nice to catch up with the crew, and to have some uninterrupted time to get some web work done.

But that’s not the highlight.

Tonight, I’m going to my very first proper opera and I’m pretty sure that makes me a grown-up. At the very least I must be proper cultured, yeah?!

My friend @fionak and I are having a gals night out at the Malthouse Theatre, to see How to Kill Your Husband. The show is based on Kathy Lette’s novel of the same name and is presented by Victorian Opera. It is said to be full of wit and irreverence.


If you’re keen for a last minute night out, Rushcrowds has half-price tickets available here… This makes for a very affordable evening out, a chance to enjoy both culture and giggles.

My ears are ringing (in a good way)

Sometimes, just every now and then you get to go to a show that feels a little bit dangerous. Not dangerous to my well being, I’ll admit, but dangerous in the sense that you’ve got NO IDEA what’s coming your way.  No clue what to expect, over and above the fact that it’s bound to be in your face.

Amplification, by Phillip Adams’ company BalletLab was one such show.  I had a sense before walking in that I should be prepared for just about anything, and it did not disappoint.  It seemed to me to be more performance art than contemporary dance, but I’m by no means an expert in either, so I was quite happy to go along for the ride. It most certainly seemed to be largely about movement, and an appreciation of movement most deliberate.

From the outset, it packed a punch. The DJ (on stage throughout the performance) was the first on stage. His introduction was industrial, grinding, shrill.  The dancers commenced to grind along, with frightening, fluid violence.  They actually looked at times as though they might hurt each other.  I shouldn’t have worried though, they were at all times perfectly in control.

The show itself had no obvious linear narrative, but it most certainly made reference to many dark, starkly important themes – power, imprisonment, abuse and gender.

About halfway through the performance the music stopped, leaving a slight ringing in our ears, and the lead dancer continued to dance.  I’ve got to say, this was strange and seemed a little on the silly side, but then I noticed the sounds that her dancing was making.  I was quite thrilled to listen to dancing, the slap of feet on the wooden floor, the light but strong thump as she came into contact with the ground, the slightest rustle of her clothing.

As the performance moved through warehouse industrial, to sitar burial tunes, to a little West-Side Story style dance-fighting, I became aware that this was the first time watching a DJ that I actually got a real sense that they were playing a musical instrument.  His intensity and skill was exactly as you would see from any professional musician. I was impressed to say the least.

The show concluded nakedly. Dancers bodies, lying incredibly, frighteningly still and then moving, intertwined Inferno-esque.  An act not for the faint-hearted, but perfectly in context.

Getting to see this show was a wonderful opportunity, as was meeting @joidesign, and spending an evening with @fionak (my wonderful host).  Thanks for a great Rushcrowds event.

A night at the opera

Just to mix it up a little, I asked my friend Fiona to put together a review of a recent night out at the opera (she’s much more civilised than I am)…and here it is. Thanks for your words Fi.

Thank-you to That Book You Love for inviting me to guest post today. Mandi noticed on Twitter that a number of us from RushCrowds had a big night out at the opera and suggested a bit of a review could be good.

Viva Verdi was the name of the first event that we could call a true RushCrowders event. Last Friday night I went to the opera for the first time in maybe eight years.

When Victorian Opera became the third company to test out our RushCrowds platform with a show that looked light-hearted and friendly on paper, I decided that this was the opportunity to wear a proper Victorian opera skirt that I’d purchased in a crazy moment  a couple of years ago from Vintage Rose.

Viva Verdi was dedicated to the Dame Joan Sutherland whose recently passing saddened many true fans of opera.

So back to the skirt –  the designers at Vintage Rose make beautiful garments, many influenced by the Victorian era and Empire line style. However there are very few opportunities to wear a full length opera skirt with bustle and lace-up bodice, so this romantic purchase had been consigned to the back of the cupboard.

On Friday night the skirt and bodice got an outing and it couldn’t have been a nicer way to come out. Viva Verdi was a snapshot of the opera of Verdi – 2 parts – the first from La Traviata and the second from Il Trovatore.

Forget the stitched shirt opinions you may have of opera. With the Victorian Orchestra conducted by the flamboyant Richard Gill, and the opera singers decked up like, well me, the show was one of high gaiety, cheeriness almost a bit bawdy really.

I’m glad there was a translation on our seats because now I know that Verdi had a pretty robust sense of passion, humour and didn’t mind telling folks to stop speaking if they weren’t making any sense!

And Melbourne Town Hall is such a gorgeous venue. The huge pipe organ as the backdrop was suitably impressive but cast your eye around and you could get soaked up into the huge wall frescos and transported by the duck egg blue and gold patterning on the ceiling. Really lovely all round!

On this RushCrowds adventure were several friends from Twitter @digitalkulcha @joidesign @pomegranate02 @pupsinmelb @kelllll and several folk from the Abbotsford Convent  who were curious to see what a night out at the opera might be like these days. Our RushCrowders were on the look out for @kelllll who was there with friends under the RushCrowds special offer but we missed each other’s tweets and I for one felt a tad naughty checking my iPhone during the performance.

Victorian Opera has more excellent shows that we hope to RushCrowd this year, the Magic Flute in March should be a ripper. If you haven’t stumbled across RushCrowds yet but love the notion of meeting up with a bunch of people who are going to the opera, theatre, a meal out, supper etc – then come join us at and let the RushCrowding begin!