The main allure of a cabaret show is the promise of variety, and Extravaganza at the Royale Theatre in Northbridge had a good balance of the essential circus acts and some quirky new performances that made it special.
Crys the MC had a great stage presence; she’s a natural talker and great at whipping up a hesitant audience into a frenzy of excitement for the performers. She also looked fabulous in an outfit I honestly can’t begin to describe. Mostly because, as she pointed out, those of us born after the 80s won’t get the reference to Jem and the Holograms, but she rocked it nonetheless, and deserved a proper spotlight trailing her around the stage rather than a hazy half-light. So did most of the performers, actually, who all dazzled in their own way
Extravaganza at the Royale Theatre
Aline, the director and aerialist of the show, had me hiding behind my hands as she hoisted herself higher and higher up the silks to spin and twirl above our heads, forcing me to bring out that tired old phrase ‘defying gravity’, as I was sure most of those moves should result with her plummeting to the ground.
The friend I brought along was more afraid during Hannah Browning’s unique performance on a bike and unicycle. As Crys pointed out, the Royale Theatre stage is only just big enough to do a full revolution on a bike, and riding it backwards on the handlebars with your feet in the air is just asking for trouble. Hannah nailed every move, though, and the front row remained free from tyres to the face. Lots of applause and a huge sigh of relief for Hannah.
Next up, Freyja is living every five-year-old’s dream by nailing the handstand so well everyone actually wants to watch. Walking with different kinds of shoes on her hands, with appropriate music for each, was a cute way to freshen up a skill that doesn’t lend itself to variety.
Extravaganza at the Royale Theatre | Juliette Ferre Photography
Another unexpectedly welcome act is the old-school sleight of hand magic from Michel Fouche. I feel bad for magicians nowadays that the internet has mostly ruined their mysticism, so I did have to purposely forget how the little balls were being palmed between his hands, but seeing a trick done right is always fun. In fact, my favourite part of his act was barely even magic at all, just the physics of a hand-held fan and cigarette paper folded into a butterfly that flutters delightfully around him. Of course, the torrent of butterflies that then poured from his sleeve was really magic, and utterly joyous to see.
Extravaganza at the Royale Theatre
Finishing up the show with a bang was self-professed Comedy Queen, Cougar Morrison, with a few minutes of stand-up and a fabulous rendition of Shirley Bassey’s song ‘Big Spender.’ Having already seen Cougar Morrison wow crowds in Priscilla at the Crown Theatre I know they have an incredible voice, but they opted for comedy this time, overexaggerating the notes in ways only someone very talented can get away with. What a treat!
All the performers in Extravaganza are highly skilled and incredible to watch, it’s a shame they were rather let down by the poor lighting and sound design. I mentioned the lack of a spotlight (does the Royale Theatre just not have one? Surely letting a drag queen in a sparkly dress perform without a spotlight is punishable by law), and the jerky transitions that sometimes included five seconds of dead silence were quite jarring. With a bit of tightening, though, Extravaganza could go from a good show to a great show, and everyone on that stage is worth a rewatch.
Keep an eye on CAJ Entertainment’s social pages to hear more about Extravaganza!