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Review | Caroline O’Connor – My Musical Life

Musical theatre star Caroline O’Connor took to the stage at His Majesty’s Theatre on Friday night and wasted no time giving the audience what they love.

She launched straight into All That Jazz, the opening number from Chicago the popular musical that she’s starred in for several Australian tours and a stint on Broadway. With a sultry delivery, a wicked smile, a wink in her eye and those classic Bob Fosse dance moves, she was captivating from the get-go.

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The one-night-only appearance at the Perth International Cabaret Festival was a yet another highlight of the 10-night celebration of cabaret that has brought Glynis Traill-Nash, Vika and Linda Bull, Michael Griffiths and Christina Bianco to His Majesty’s Theatre in its first few nights.

O’Connor, who can fairly be described as a giant chatterbox, shared stories from her long and varied career taking us from her days in the chorus line through to her adventures as a leading lady. Along the way she filled the theatre with laughter as she showed her quick wit and comic timing.

Sharing that he family originally faired from Ireland she asked if there were any Irish people in the house, and when it turned out there wasn’t, she didn’t miss a beat quipping that the festival maybe wasn’t so “international” after all.

With an equal balance of storytelling and musical numbers O’Connor touched on many of the songs she’s loved and been associated with through the many shows she’s starred in.

Along the way she paid tribute to Judy Garland, singing The Man I Love, and brought the house down with a medley of Edith Piaf tunes.

She shared how she used to come home from school and sneak into her parents ‘good lounge room’ where she could play records by iconic singers like Ella Fitzgerald and Ethel Merman. Singing like Ethel Merman was something she’s always loved.

Years later when friend John Barrowman mentioned the producers of an upcoming film were searching for someone to play Ethel Merman, she got herself an audition and scored the role in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely. She joked that she’d been practicing being Ethel Merman since she was nine years old.

Moulin Rouge was visited via the tango version of Roxanne, and Broadway Baby took us to Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday celebrations and we also stopped in on Mack and Mabel, Sweeney Todd, Anastasia and Strictly Ballroom along the way.

With her powerful voice, brilliant storytelling, and bundles of laughs, an audience with Caroline O’Connor is a sensational way to spend an evening.

The Perth International Cabaret Festival continues this week with shows from Joe Louis Robinson, NYC’s Mark Nadler, Brendan Hansen, Mama Alto, Carla Lippis, Tom Burlinson, and many more.

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