Review: Vinyl Viagra
Jun08

Review: Vinyl Viagra

LAST UPDATED // Sunday, 08 June 2014 15:01 Written by // Cec Busby

The applause for Rhonda Burchmore begins before the leggy performer has even opened her mouth.  Striding on stage in a bedazzled black gown, Burchmore’s warmth and presence engulfs the audience like a wave and they respond in kind with spontaneous clapping.

This is after all, the woman who was bestowed the Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s Icon Award just the night before and with al the love flowing towards her onstage it’s clear this city adores the titian-haired performer.

Before the show proper begins, Burchmore lets the audience in on a secret; she has an alter ego  – Ruda Brickmore – born out of a mishap in the spelling of her name many years ago when making her debut in London.

Ruda is the bad girl who comes out at all the after-parties, who likes a tipple and a risqué joke – and Burchmore is going to unleash her on the audience today.  It’s an ingenious device, which allows the impossibly tall performer to set aside the musical theatre standards she is known for and take a walk on the wild side. This is Burchmore’s tribute to the bad girl and she mines decades of material to deliver songs from famous women singers who been done wrong and done wrong themselves, to dish up songs of love and joy and heartbreak.

From Katy Perry to Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Ray to Marlene Dietrich, Chrissy Amphlett to Sinead O’Conner and Better Midler, Burchmore easily shifts from pop classics to soulful ballads to cheeky innuendo.

Her voice is in fine form, forget the belter from musical theatre who you know and love. Burchmore is so much more than this. Her range easily stretches from deep sultry jazz ballads to the whimsical high notes of a pop song.

She’s taking a risk here, given the age of the majority of her audience, but Burchmore’s interpretation of present day pop/rock classics like ‘Wrecking Ball’ and  ‘Young and Beautiful’ render the songs timeless.

Highlights include a mash-up of Amy Winehouse’s 'Back to Black' with Judy Garland’s  ‘Man I Love’; a hilarious version of pop hit ‘Barbie Girl’ a poignant version of Tina Turner’s ‘Private Dancer’ and a surprising take on the Divinyls’ classic ‘Touch Myself’.

Burchmore has carefully engineered the show to ensure it showcases her best assets. Part humour, part pathos, she works the audience well – taking them with her on this journey that is part tribute, part parody but certainly all heart.

There is no doubt about it Burchmore is pure entertainer and Vinyl Viagra really allows her to shine.  Musical direction by Matt Frank ensures the numbers are slick and satisfying and make the most of Burchmore’s many gifts. He keeps everything running smoothly – particularly during the costume changes, where Burchmore’s ‘boys’ – a couple of talented dancers, keep the audince entertained. They are clearly enjoying the show and match Burchmore in energy and intensity.

Forget everything you know about Rhonda Burchmore and go see Vinyl Viagra, the musical theatre star with the legs that go on for miles will certainly prove to you there’s much more to this dame than meets the eye.

Rhonda Burchmore is performing Vinyl Viagra at the Dunstan Playhouse until June 8, then check Burchmore’s website for tour dates.

 

 

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Cec Busby

Cec Busby

Cec Busby is the news editor of SX and GayNewsNetwork.com.au.

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