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Theatre Review: Alchemy



Alchemy Hayes Theatre

Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP

They did it with Stairway to Heaven in The Money or The Gun, Bernadette Robinson has done it in her cabaret shows, I saw it in a cabaret at Kinsela’s where they performed My Favourite Things, from The Sound of Music, in many styles, funniest being the country and western version. The latest, unique offering of this type is briefly at the Hayes Theatre, Potts Point.

When an opera soprano performs mashups of musical genres such as jazz, pop, cabaret, blues, opera and rap, you get Alchemy starring Ali McGregor.

McGregor, who was classically trained, was a soprano with Opera Australia before expanding to less conventional entertainment media, and in this show, the deservedly acclaimed performer demonstrates her versatility.

With her three-piece band, McGregor performed numerous songs with which I’m unfamiliar. I didn’t know them because most come from the 1980s and 1990s, in my opinion, the most musically bereft decades for popular music since World War II. With each song, I thought, “if she performed this song or that song in that style, it would be fantastic”. Some of the styles reminded me of Billie Holiday, Etta James, Nina Simone and Adele.

Still, Alchemy, to me, became less about the specific songs and more about McGregor’s impressive talents in comedy, versatility, stage presence, irreverence and of course, singing. There was something special about sitting close to the Hayes Theatre stage and watching such a superb opera singer holding those long, long notes so powerfully without a trace of vibrato.

One song that I did recognise was Bang Bang, the 1960s hit made popular by Cher. McGregor’s rendition and stylised interpretations were an absolute delight.

If you want to catch Ali McGregor in Alchemy, at the Hayes Theatre, you only have until Sunday, April 26.

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