Review | Carlotta shows her quick wit and strong opinions

Carlotta: The Party’s Over | His Majesty’s Theatre | ★ ★ ★ ★ ½  

Carlotta has a blunt statement at the start of her show. She’s never subscribed to political correctness – and she’s not about to start now.

As she approaches her 78th birthday Carlotta is playing a final round of shows before she hangs up her tap shoes and enjoys a well earned retirement.  The audience was clearly filled with long-term fans who have followed her career for decades, and there’s a huge LGBTIQ+ contingent.

“I won’t be doing a Johnny Farnham” she declares, vowing that she has just a handful of shows on her tour before her finale.

Backed by a three-piece band lead by Michael Griffiths, she treated the audience to an evening of chat, storytelling and song. Shining through was the entertainers quick wit and amazing sense of humour.

After 62 years of performing, Carlotta is an old hand who knows all the tricks for getting a laugh, often at her own expense, and she has an amazing ability to communicate so much with just one look.

She took the audience on a journey with tales of her time on Australian television dramas like Number 96, and her days as a panelist on Beauty and the Beast. The reminisces were spaced with occasional songs, and while Carlotta is not the greatest singer, it doesn’t matter – everyone is here for the party.

She takes questions from the audience, and gives brutally honest answers. She’s never been one to hold back, “Go and get the Covid jab” she implores the audience, so life can get back to normal. Her views on anti-vaxers – “dickheads”, did she lose money to her managers in the past? “yes, because I was an idiot” she responds. Goals for the future – she’s hoping for a telegram from King William on her 100th birthday.

She also highlights how drag is now entering the mainstream and encourages the audience to go and see performances from up and coming performers.

Speaking about the many people she’s met during her career, Carlotta shares fond memories of her friendship with Australian songwriter Peter Allen. Carlotta leaves the stage for a moment, allowing Michael Griffiths to take the lead. He delivers a powerful rendition of Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage. 

The song which Allen wrote in tribute to his mentor and mother-in-law Judy Garland was a beautiful inclusion, and Garland fans in the audience would have felt it’s significance, as the evening was the anniversary of her 1969 passing.

The mood soon returned to the party atmosphere as Griffiths morphed into I Go To Rio and Carlotta returned in a new outfit and grabbed some maracas. The second part of the show saw Carlotta deliver some much loved classics including I’m Still Here, and her own version of I Am What I Am. 

Carlotta is a rewarded with a standing ovation, without doubt she’s paved the way and made the lives of gay, lesbian and transgender people who have followed her an easy journey.

There’s still heaps of great shows this week at the Perth International Cabaret Festival

Graeme Watson, Images: Photographie Vanessa Cooper


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