Review by Catherine Lawrence of Speakeasy, presented by Candy Shop Show Australia

The Candy Shop Show Australia has a winning formula: ‘dancing girls’ who can sing, tap, high-kick and Charleston through a variety of numbers and fast facts. Speakeasy is the latest Candy Shop Show; an 85-minute reflection on the lockdown challenges of 2020, and how much more fun the 1920s appeared to be. Speakeasy is certainly another Candy Shop Show hit; by the end of the evening, the audience was singing along (and tapping away), and everyone was trying their best to use 1920’s slang.

The interweaving of personal memories of lockdown, and the genesis of this latest show, worked well. Using the simple device of wearing robes and swigging back ‘wine’, the cast reflected on the challenges of the 2020s, with references taking us through to July 2020. These cameos were interspersed with high-energy 1920s dance and song numbers—complete with twenties-style sparkle, and short factual interludes providing information about prohibition, gangsters, 1920s slang, and Charlie Chaplain.

1920s-style chanteuse
Pictured: Lizzie Moore in the Candy Shop Show Australia’s Speakeasy. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography.

Lizzie Moore can certainly sing. From ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ we were enthralled, and the audience-pleasing ‘Minnie the Moocher’ was a definite highlight of the show. The solo pieces were a great counterpoint to the four-part harmonies, which included a number of medleys of 1920’s songs, starting with ‘Yes Sir! That’s my Baby/Bye, Bye, Blackbird/Puttin’ on the Ritz/Let’s Face the Music and Dance/Swannee.’

And of course, they certainly can dance. The three dance specialists—Stacey, Lizzie and Jenny (led by Jenny Usher, Producer and Director)—produced some fabulous Charleston, tap, and the occasional high-kick.

Pictured: The Candy Shop Show Australia’s Speakeasy dance specialists. Picture credit: Creative Futures Photography

Speakeasy is a show that is easy to enjoy, and I can see it would work well in any location (and would be a great birthday treat or corporate event). I’d love to see the show in a more intimate bar venue (perhaps on, around, or in front of the atmospheric Bloodhound Corner Bar).

Comparisons between the challenges of the 2020s and 1920s worked really well, and I’d love to have seen a few more postmodern numbers. “Crazy in Love,’ performed 1920s style by the Candy Shop Show Australia cast, was really quite special. I’m sure a few more 2000s songs would have benefited from a similar treatment. But perhaps that’s  an idea for the next show… Keep an eye on the Candy Shop Show Socials, and see where you might find them next.

Verdict:  Exactly as promised: toe-tapping, lively, funny, and factual, with great vocals and fantastic high kicks. 

Catherine Lawrence

Audience information: Speakeasy had only four Anywhere Festival performances (1, 7, and 13 May, 2022), including two shows at  EC Venue, 17 McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Tickets $35. 85 minutes.

The reviewer attended the Friday 13 May (8:30pm) performance.

Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography. A copy of this review, with more images, is also available at Creative Futures perspectives.

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