The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez at Chapel Off Chapel


The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez Rating

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Attending the latest production of “The Exotic Lives of Lola Montez” at Chapel Off Chapel was an exhilarating and unforgettable experience. This show is a kaleidoscopic journey through the life of one of history’s most controversial and audacious women, brought to life by an all-female presenting cast.

The performance is a brilliant blend of fantastic singing, ranging from Broadway show tunes to opera and everything in between. It also includes burlesque dancers performing classic fan dances to full-frontal nudity, showcasing a spectrum of artistry and boldness.

The show is a highly feminist work, written and directed by women, and it tackles numerous significant questions relevant during Lola Montez’s time and today. Lola’s assertion that her body was her own and belonged to no one else remains a powerful statement in the current context.

Caroline Lee, a triple Best Actress winner and a direct descendant of Lola Montez herself, delivers a stellar performance. She expertly portrays a woman living life on her own terms in a time when women had limited choices. The narrative delves deep into what it means to live a life defined by one’s own desires and terms, questioning the value of a life lived outside societal norms.

The storyline beautifully intertwines Lola’s life with the historical context of Victoria and Melbourne, referencing artifacts that can still be seen in the National Gallery of Victoria. One notable episode from Lola’s life that is vividly depicted is her infamous horsewhipping incident involving the editor of the Ballarat Star. This event, among many others, is recounted with both humour and drama, creating a captivating narrative.


The show also features burlesque performances that range from historical references to modern interpretations, including a male performer stripping down to a single piece of tape, leaving the audience in suspense. This daring and unapologetic approach is a recurring theme throughout the show, making it both provocative and thought-provoking.

Despite a few minor hiccups, such as occasional line drops by the performers, the overall experience was incredibly enjoyable. The production’s raw honesty, combined with its mix of storytelling and sensual performances, makes it a must-see.

Don’t miss out on this incredible performance that celebrates the life and legacy of Lola Montez in the most spectacular and unapologetic fashion.

**Performance Details:**

**Dates:** 21 – 30 June


  • Friday 21 June, 8pm
  • Saturday 22 June, 8pm
  • Sunday 23 June, 6pm
  • Wednesday 26 June, 8pm
  • Friday 28 June, 8pm
  • Saturday 29 June, 8pm
  • Sunday 30 June, 6pm

– **Tickets:**

  • $88 Table Seat*
  • $48 Standard
  • $38 Concession
  • $38 Groups 6+

**Duration:** 80 minutes (no interval)

**Contains:** Theatrical haze, coarse language, nudity, and lots of dancing. Suitable for ages 15+.

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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Bernie Dieters Club Kabarett

Bernie Dieters Club Kabarett

Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett Rating

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Bernie Dieter is back with a bootylicious BANG and its settings on stun!

Dare to enter if you can handle the heat. A sultry fusion of circus, song and sexy burlesque, where the thrill of the centre ring meets the seduction of the velvet curtain. Temptation breaks all the boring boundaries and sinks itself into your lap. Ach, mein Gott! What a ride! You must see it darling- it’s BEAUTIFUL!

Like a glittering diamond in the rough under the dome of the Moore Park Spiegeltent, ‘Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett’ is a lesson in surrendering to the decadence of hedonism and celebrating the human form in all its glory. Settled within the intimate shadows and velvety atmosphere, we are offered a tasty blend of gritty underground danger and pure, unadulterated flair without ever tipping the scales into crassness or whimsy. This requires astounding skill, my friend.

What’s the X-factor that makes this experience so uniquely delicious? It captures and embraces the unbridled spirit and liberated essence of Weimar-era cabaret. This show is a thoroughbred, real deal cabaret that knows exactly how to deliver and doesn’t hold back. Vibrantly avant-garde and at times ironically grotesque, it provocatively pushes buttons, relishing in its own signature sauce of salaciousness. A big juicy f**k you to conformity and the mundane.

Talent upon talent upon talent. The spotlight ignites seven heavenly bodies – titillating tornadoes of effortless circus expertise. Our hair is literally blown back, our eyes ache from the dazzle, our spirits soar with the thrill of it all. This is a full on fatal attraction of strength, skill, and seduction in the form of a mesmerising array of aerial feats, fiery displays, hoop artistry, whip cracking and contortionism. Eight outstanding acts deliver the perfect balance of clowning and spell binding agility, each one jaw-droppingly unforgettable in its own way and expertly woven together by the quick-witted banter of the incomparable Mistress of Ceremonies, the marvellous Miss Dieter, a ringmaster-class of song and repartee.

How can I possibly describe this powerhouse of a woman? She’s a vocal force, delivering numbers with bodacious energy and precision that’s both captivating and rare. Backed by a very tight and pulsing 3 piece band, Dieter fearlessly embraces contrasts, pivoting from unbridled ferocity in ‘Rebel Yell’ to tender vulnerability in a haunting rendition of ‘Fake Plastic Trees’. A presence that’s both commanding and nuanced, she weaves a sonic tapestry that’s utterly immersive; she defies expectations and forges a connection that’s both raw and profound. Dieter IS cabaret.

The ultimate wild child of the Club circuit family, ‘Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabaret’ shatters the mold, of leaving similar variety shows for dust. The finale is a glorious personal homage to the alchemy of art and drinking, where transformation and reinvention converge in a dazzlingly gutsy and original song.

As you gather your wits to depart, the stage lies in perfect disarray, a telltale testament to the night’s divine debauchery. Littered with party popper innards, discarded costumes, confetti, shreds of balloon rubber, feathers and a spray of white powder which I suspect may represent an illicit substance 😉 This is the aftermath of a night of extravagant fun.

Bernie, you devil, you’ve done it again! You’ve released a kaleidoscope of creativity and set the bar ridiculously high with a night that revisits and then rewrites the rules of cabaret. The impossible is now possible and your imagination knows no bounds.

This is the ultimate winter retreat from the chill of a turbulent world. Indulge in the warmth of Dieter’s organised chaos to help you forget and play for a while, to remind you of the unapologetic, permissible pleasures of being human. All are welcome. So leave your inhibitions at the door, grab your favourite poison and sit back as the candles and stage are lit for a night you won’t forget.

Danke Darling Dieter!

‘Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabaret’ plays at Sydney Spiegeltent Moore Park Entertainment Quarter until July 28th. See for details.
What are you doing??? Click the link and hustle those tickets!

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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The Last Word

The Last Word

The Last Word Rating

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With an eye-catching poster featuring an image of the star throwing a bunch of SCRABBLE tiles off the board into the air, one could be forgiven, walking into the Butterfly Club, on a cold Melbourne night, that the show, like the poster, may just be a bunch of ideas and various tiles haphazardly thrown together in the hopes a decent score is found. All doubt was removed at the second “The Last Word” star and creator slinked onto the stage.

It’s not often a performer that you are not familiar with, takes a stage, and with literally just a raise of their eyebrow has you giggling and instantly at ease, this is however the feat that Imogen Whittaker managed in her sold-out Monday night performance.

With nothing but a microphone and a piano, along with a whole bunch of therapy behind her (though, as Imogen tells us, she was dumped by her therapist- ouch!), she launches into song and starts the show. Within just a few bars, you know you are in the hands of an up-and-coming pro, instantly the clever, humorous wording has you thinking you are in the hands of a star like Tim Minchin. The music and lyrics already feel like they belong in a smash hit like Matilda (we won’t talk about Ground Hog Day), and the audience takes an audible sigh of relief knowing that the hard slog to get out on a wet Monday will well and truly be worth it.

Through the next 50 minutes or so, Imogen Whittaker draws you in with her charm, honesty, and a little self-deprecation. Managing to tell stories that are uniquely her own, though with wording and feelings that like today’s Astrology Star Sign forecast, the audience could easily interpret to be current and applicable to themselves.

A particular favorite was – Last First Date
“I think I’m going to get RSI
From how many times
I swipe left and right
And put on my nice shoes and dress
Just to be in evidently unimpressed”

A hilarious ode to the pitfalls of dating and kind of a Groundhog Day (not the Minchin one- no, this one wasn’t tedious) of first date after first date after first date and how they all start to feel the same, the guys all sadly similarly bland and not right and how Imogen wishes that she could find the one and have her “Last First date”. Knowing laughter from the audience and friends nudging each other in agreeance throughout.

The Last Word

Other stories of the wacky world of dating are put into song- like the one about the guy she dated for some time, to then find out the reason he was emotionally unavailable was that he was married and bumped into him and his wife at a country bakery where he introduced her as “a family friend”. Awkward. But hey, this ‘ACE’ of a guy brought her a piano- so I guess he is ok?

Another about a failed ‘showmance’ in what we are repeatedly and cheekily told was “the worst production of FAME ever staged” that leaves Imogen wondering if she was in love with the actor or the character. Then there is “Drunk Call”, awaiting an ex who has moved on, but she “Leaves my phone on even though I know you are out, in case I’m the one you‘re still thinking about”.

With brilliant lyrics and music that have you reminded of Missy Higgins, Musicals like Once and Matilda, and an instantly likable personality that draws you in, this was a joyous night at the theatre held by a performer who knows her talent and leans into it with grace and confidence. Despite some sound issues, from the microphone not sounding on for the first number to then barely being able to hear the wonderful piano playing for a few numbers, this is a highly recommended show.

“The Last Word” like the show’s promo poster, is a collection of letters and words of Imogen Whittaker’s experiences. She played a brilliant game and clearly won with the tiles of life that have been dealt her way.

I can’t help but feel that she still holds her ‘Q’ and ‘Z’ close to her chest. But I tell you, when she does decide to put them on the table, not only will she win again, she will score big and it will be one of the most exciting games. This is not Imogen’s last word, and I eagerly await her next.

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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Cabaret De Paris

Cabaret De Paris

Seven Moulin Rouge trained showgirls in sparkly sequinned skimpy bikini outfits, balanced by feather headdresses and boas and in impossibly high heels accentuating their very long legs, flanked by two athletic male dancers who finally take off their shirts in the last number.

This ensemble of highly skilled and sexy dancers are the heart and soul of the Cabaret de Paris: A Burlesque Extravaganza, produced by Michael Boyd and choreographed by Todd Partrick and Matt Browning. But Rhonda Burchmore, veteran cabaret entertainer, is the major drawcard for this Parisian-styled revue.

This show has been kicking around since at least 2016. This post-COVID version of the show keeps the same format but with a few new numbers and some personnel changes, including Rhonda as the new leading lady.

It’s a very portable show, doing three shows in 2 days at iconic theatres across Australia since last year. This explains the minimalist set design and recorded music rather than live musicians. Instead, the $250,000 worth of lavish costumes were a feast for the eyes and brought the era of French cabaret a la Lido and the Moulin Rouge to life.

Musically, there was a lot of variety – from upbeat bass-heavy electronic dance music (Parlez Vous Francais) to jazz big band more traditional ballads evoking old-school Paris (think bandoneon).

The can-can mashup was an example of this in one number – from a modern dance rhythm version, Voulez-Vous, to a 1950 adaptation of Can-Can Polka with kitschy lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy to the original whirling dervish Galop from Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. The choreography of this number was particularly engaging, with the mix of modern and traditional styles and the oh-so high kicks!

I was absolutely drawn into Michael Boyd’s magic of illusion and was riveted to watching Veronica on the pole and on the floor for her contortion act. Similarly, the short acrobatic act of the male dancers and the intense adagio style pas de deux (acrobatic dance duo featuring high lift poses) were breathtaking. However, Rhonda Burchmore provided the substance of the show with her solid singing chops and personal stories.

Rhonda is celebrating 42 years in showbiz, and I was reminded of Tina Turner, who also flaunted her legs on stage well into her mature years. She looked wonderful in the gorgeous gowns and even entertained us with a very discreet strip tease, assisted by her charming male assistants, culminating in a dramatic costume change.

However, the price of wearing the stilettos that go with such ballgowns is very painful bunions, as she admitted when she rushed to sit down. Most of us ladies are now relishing the current fashion trend of wearing sensible shoes with just about anything.

I would love to see a version of this show where Rhonda gets to wear Hoka One Ones with the sumptuous evening dresses. After all, she’s six foot one “and worth the climb” – she doesn’t need the extra height.

Alas, the Cabaret De Paris was showing only for this weekend, but keep an eye out for this troupe of performers as new show dates are coming soon.

This review also appears on It’s On The House, and check out more reviews at Dark Stories Theatre to see what else is on in your town.

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