Spending the last few decades in London has given this reviewer a heightened awareness about some of the enormous changes to have taken place in Melbourne. Federation Square, The Bolte Bridge, Southern Cross Railway Station and the train line to Melbourne Airport…What? Really! Still? But, as I sat in the Athenaeum Theatre on Saturday evening, it became glaringly, fabulously, and hilariously obvious that what I had really failed to notice during my absence was the meteoric rise of Miss Dolly Diamond.
During some pretty tireless promotion, ‘Australia’s reigning queen of cabaret’ summoned fans to Collins Street with the battle like cry, ‘Because I’m worth it.’ For anyone considering a call to The Advertising Standards Bureau, let me absolutely assure you, she really wasn’t lying. Dolly and a group of her very talented friends joined forces and hands on Saturday and delivered an incredibly enjoyable evening of razor sharp asides, astute observations and a thunderstorm of glitteringly camp costumes.
The backstage area of the Athenaeum Theatre is evidently Tardis like in dimension given its capacity to accommodate the three large musical groups Dolly chose to support and be supported by for her ‘15 Year Anniversary Gala.’ The Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Chorus, the Footscray-Yarraville City Band and the Melbourne Rainbow Band all jostled for position on stage and thrust forward a wall of sound and ‘happy to be there’ smiling faces.
Billed as a one-off, a capella group, The Phones reformed for the evening and in delivering some astonishingly good vocals, we can only hope that there will be more one-offs to come. In joining the quartet for an impressive rendition of Queens Bohemian Rhapsody, Dolly punched home a reminder that 5-way harmonies are no place for the vocally devoid. Genuinely great stuff Lady and Gentlemen.
Luke Gallagher’s stunning rendition of Adele’s Someone Like You warrants a massive mention for its inspiring pathos and as the evening's MC, he was a handsome and beautifully sequined delight.
The very lovely Rachel Dunham gave a noteworthy turn and despite Dolly’s ongoing insistence that Justin Clauson’s was a non-speaking role, he impressed as a supporting vocalist and ‘Straight’ man. (Special note to all at Mardi Gras – if, despite the Party ticket price hike Cher fails to materialise; for a black wig, some heels and a few handsome sailors, I feel Justin Clauson will happily stand in!)
As the fingers of MD Cameron Thomas sought a well-deserved rest; flanked by a couple of overdressed dancing boys and some lovely show girls facing a bleak Grand Prix, Melbourne’s own Dolly Diamond bid an enthusiastic audience good night.
Dolly Diamond is a phenomenally talented show(wo)man whose fabulous frocks, rapid fire one liners and in the moment insults on one hand, made me very sad to have missed her last 15 years but on the other, absolutely thrilled to have finally caught up.
2018 Midsumma Festival
Dolly Diamond's 15-Year Anniversary Gala
Venue: The Athenaeum | 188 Collins St, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 3 February 2018
Bookings: Ticketek 132 849