The Lounge Suite REVIEW by Catherine Lawrence

Dale Pengelly’s Lounge Suite is a two-hour song and dance show packed with anecdotes, tap-dancing, high-kicks, and even opportunities for audience participation. The program combines Dean Martin-style/’rat-pack’ classics with a sequence of musical theatre numbers—all threaded together with some of the many highlights from Dale’s 36+ years in show-business.

Pictured (L to R): Maureen Bowra, Dale Pengelly, and Jenny Usher (The Lounge Suite). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The Lounge Suite isn’t purely a one-man show. Hello Dolly was a great choice for the opening number, with close harmonies provided by the Candy Shop Show’s Maureen Bowra and Jenny Usher, who returned to the stage at different points during the evening—including encouraging and leading the audience in two great participation numbers. For example, Everybody Loves Somebody was a fantastic choice as an audience participation number, and everyone certainly had as much fun with the fans as Dale did performing that one.

Pictured: Dale Pengelly (centre), Everybody Loves Somebody audience participation (with fans) in The Lounge Suite. Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

The “story-time” anecdotes were well-chosen and kept the audience enthralled as names were “dropped” left, right, and centre. Great to see both photographs and video illustrating Dale’s CV—in particular, the Paula Yates dance lesson (by Dale and Hot Shoe Shuffle colleagues) which led into the enjoyable performance of  L-O-V-E.  Suitable changes of pace ranged from the entertaining and well-choreographed Sway and the cast having fun with Amore (using the lounge at the back of the stage to great effect), through to the touching Tenterfield Saddler (introduced as “my tribute to Todd McKenney”).

Musical theatre is no easy gig. From his early days in State and National ballet companies, Dale moved on to performing/understudying some of the major roles in musical theatre (with many national and international tours), as well directing and choreographing a number of shows. To maintain a steady program of work over a period spanning almost four decades is impressive—particularly when the performer can still tap dance and high-kick in the way that he does (just watch out for the high-kicking in New York, New York!).  The audience certainly got their value for money, with over 20 pieces including dance solos, a voice solo by Maureen, and two dance duets featuring Jenny (Rich Man’s Frug with Maureen, and You Were Meant for Me with Dale).

Pictured (L to R): Maureen Bowra, Dale Pengelly, and Jenny Usher (The Lounge Suite). Picture credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.

I am sure that The Lounge Suite would work really well as a Dean Martin tribute show, leaving ‘my life in musical theatre’ as a separate piece. It would have been great to see this show with a larger audience (but the crew attending on 25th May had a ball), and perhaps better sound monitors onstage for the performers. But at $30 for a 2-hour program of music and dance, I am sure the audience didn’t feel short-changed.

 Verdict: I would love to see this with a live band. Look out for future opportunities to see Dale Pengelly.

Audience tip: A two-hour show (including a 20-minute interval). Easy on-site parking, and great value drinks and food available at the Queensland Russian Community Group, Woolloongabba.

Tickets at the Anywhere Festival website. $30. Friday and Saturday performances during Anywhere Festival 2018 (11, 12, 18, 19, 25 & 26 May. All 7:30pm with one 3pm matinee [19 May]. Presented by Pengelly Productions at Anywhere Festival,  at the Kenmore Retro Bar, and Woolloongabba  Queensland Russian Community Group. Suitable for audiences of any age.

Catherine Lawrence

The reviewer attended the Friday 25th May performance at the Queensland Russian Community Group, Woolloongabba.

Main image: Dale Pengelly in The Lounge Suite. Pictures Credit: Geoff Lawrence, Creative Futures Photography.