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Pink Martini Pop Up Cabaret

Having seen the Pink Martini Pop Up Cabaret workshop, I already knew that Angelique Marie (producer and co-star) and Jamie Lin Shelton (Emcee and co-star) are a highly-professional partnership. So it was great to see that the rest of the team didn’t disappoint. The Evoke Dance and Theatre Company Pink Martini Cabaret was a fun show—with live (and some recorded) music, fabulous singing, a great aerial duet, and amazing showgirls (and boy).

The show was promoted as a ‘lavish fusion of sultry French cabaret with fiery Latin passion’—delivered in equal measure with lavish costumes, passionate dancing, fabulous vocals, and a musical selection that travelled from France and Germany through to Portugal, Spain, and Brazil. It is always great to see dancers accompanied by live music, and the audience certainly got value of money with an eight-piece band. Some great guitar (centre-stage for The Waters of March), lead guitar, flute, brass, and percussion.

Jamie Lin Shelton and members of the band at the Pink Martini Pop Up Cabaret (picture credit: Creative Futures Photography)

The show opened with a scene-setting feather fan dance, performed to recorded music. And then Jamie Lin Shelton took to the stage, the band started to play Cabaret’s Willkommen, and we knew that we were in for a fabulous one-hour show. Shelton has an amazing voice and stage presence, making the perfect Emcee (and managing a startling number of quick costume changes along the way). Personal highlights from Shelton’s repertoire were Willkommen, Yolanda, Sway, Summertime, Nature Boy, and The Waters of March (but I could probably have listed the whole set!).

Fabulous aerial work at the Pink Martini Pop Up Cabaret (Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography)

The dancers wowed the audience—not only with their fantastic costumes, but also with their energy, abilities, and sass. A stunning range of numbers, spanning contemporary ballet through to cha-cha, and including Brazilian carnival-style moves as well as Latin tango. And almost everything in-between. “That’ duet with the stools, sax, and splits was compelling, and the high-energy can-can delivered a spectacular finale.

I’ve mentioned the showgirls, but the show also included a number of cameos. The male dancer entertained as part of the passionate tango and high-intensity carnival piece, as well as with the entertaining and sassy Nature Boy ‘reinterpretation’ (and made a very acrobatic contribution to the Can-Can finale). The performers were also joined by two aerialists, who demonstrated some amazing moves in their compelling You Don’t Own Me hoop duet (and a great intro piece about to the role of the 50s/60s housewife…).

Arcana provided a more traditional-style theatre space for this show—albeit in an area of Brisbane that is more typically associated with warehouses, workshops, and car yards. As the Pink Martini Pop Up Cabaret was part of the 2021 Anywhere Festival program, I’d love to have seen this show in a distillery, nightclub, or bar. The show was a sell-out on Friday night, so I hope it will return to Brisbane and surrounding spaces. I’ll be interested to see where it ‘pops up’ in future!  

Verdict: A great Latin escape. Can’t wait to see where this show ‘pops up’ next.

Audience tip: Pink Martini Pop Up Cabaret is at two venues during the 2021 Anywhere Festival: The Arana Hills District Community Centre (8 May) and Moorooka’s Arcana (14-16 May). Performances at 7:30pm on 8th & 14th, 5:30pm on 15th and 6:15 on 16th. Tickets $35 ($25 concession). I recommend aiming for the raked seating, rather than on the floor, as it will provide a better view of the show. For the Arcana shows, be aware that street parking fills up quickly.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Saturday 15th May 2021 performance.