Enchanted Evening: La Soireé
The award-winning, trail-blazing La Soireé is back in 2013. Peter Burdon spoke to its creative producer, Adelaide’s own Brett Haylock.
La Clique, as it then was, and now La Soireé, has carved out a niche all its own these past ten years. And much of its genius, and most of its personality, is down to Brett Haylock, the man with the suit and hat, ever present at the microphone, welcoming every night’s full house with a twinkle in his eye and his trademark cheeky smile. “Not bad for a boy from Moonta!” he is wont to say as he reflects each year at about this time on just what led him to quite literally run away and join the crazy caravan we’ve come to know and love.
As we speak, La Soireé has just finished its Sydney season, when it broke the record it already held for the all-time longest-running show at the Sydney Opera House. “Ten weeks of sell-outs, and the best part of 35,000 people,” Brett says with a sigh, “and now a week in Adelaide, then time for a break.” Adelaide has been the show’s last port of call for a while now. “There’s no better place to be in March,” he says, “every carny in the world is here and it really reminds you of the straightforward, honest performance that’s at the heart of every great show. And it fits really well into the touring schedule. It’s the end of summer in Australia, but it’s still winter in the northern hemisphere, so it’s a good time for a rest before we go on the road again.” And the road just keeps getting more interesting. “We’re off to Madrid for a while, then across the Atlantic to Chicago for a return visit, until we get to the West End towards the end of the year.”
“There’s a couple of acts that are new for Adelaide in 2013,” Brett continues, “and I know everyone is going to love Nate Cooper. He’s a perfect example of someone we picked up along the way. We met him in New York City, and he came along with the most ridiculous, funny, brilliant juggling act you’ve ever seen. I won’t say more, but think roller skates and machetes!” But wait, there’s more. “I’m really looking forward to introducing Up & Over It to Adelaide,” he says, “I think of it as Irish Dancing meets cocaine! It’s ridiculously clever and actually quite subversive at the same time. And we’ve got the wonderful Cabaret Decadanse from Montreal with us again, which is great. They’re so over the top and they’re camper than Christmas! And they save me from being the main diva in the show for a change.”
And of course, many of the great favourites are in Adelaide again. “For sure,” Brett enthuses, “I can’t imagine Adelaide without Captain Frodo or the English Gents or Mario, Queen of the Circus, or the gorgeous Boy in the Bath. We’d probably get beaten up if we didn’t have him!” [Note to La Soireé newbies: the Boy in the Bath, David O’Mer, is an act which once seen is never, ever forgotten. Go directly to YouTube!]
The format may remain the same, but La Soireé is constantly changing. “We’re incredibly lucky,” says Brett, “We have the luxury of more acts than we need wanting to be part of the family which means we can give people a break when they want to have a rest or go off and pursue other interests or perform with other groups. It keeps everyone fresh, and many times when our regulars have been off for a while they’ve come back with a new act, or a new take on their act, which gives it the unique spirit that you feel within this community.” And indeed it is a community. “A lot of us now have firm friends in Adelaide, just as they do in every city we visit regularly.” Brett continues, “And there’s a sense of family in it, too. My partner travels with us, and most of us have our partners along with us now, which is important when you’re away from home for months at a time. But there’s always a sort of feeling of ‘home’ in Adelaide, I guess mainly because it’s where I come from. And they all get excited when my family come to visit! I’m sure my parents never quite expected me to make so many colourful friends!
It’s now ten years since it all began. “It’s been my life for a long time now,” Brett admits, “and there’s no end in sight. I genuinely love it. I work with people I love and respect, and we create families and friends wherever we go. And it’s not bad having a job where at the end of every night, four or five hundred people stand up and clap and cheer, and I get lots of hugs and kisses. I’m a very lucky man.”
Pictured: The English Gents by Olivia Rutherford
La Soiree opens on 13 March, and is arguably best investment you’ll make this Fringe. Book at Fringetix.