Vaudevillian entertainer Godfrey Uke and his ensemble of award-winning jazz musicians will be very busy in February.
The fun begins in the Blue Mountains with Tin Pan Alley, a debut theatrical homage to the great composers of American popular song, performed as part of the Roaring 20s and All That Jazz Festival at Hotel Blue on February 6 and 13.
Then it’s off to the Adelaide Fringe Festival to cruise the River Torrens and perform on board the iconic Popeye on February 26, 27 and 28, offering audiences a captivating show and evening river cruise complete with a fine selection of local food and wine.
An immersive return to the music, humour and showmanship of the Roaring Twenties, Tin Pan Alley narrates the comic tale of a hapless song-and-dance-man to showcase some of the most influential music from the Golden Age of American jazz. Its unique brand of comedy is inspired by classic revue style banter, Groucho Marx witticisms and the more contemporary absurdist humour of Spike Milligan.
The show is written, produced and directed by Dominic Santangelo, whose previous work includes co-writing Little Egypt’s Speakeasy, which enjoyed successful runs in both Sydney and Adelaide in 2014/15. The group also features critically acclaimed trumpeter and composer Ellen Kirkwood, recipient of the national Jann Rutherford Memorial Award for outstanding female jazz musicians.
Tin Pan Alley is Santangelo’s first credit as a producer/director and he says the concept was the natural progression of existing collaborations.
“Over the past few years I have had the extreme fortune of working with some phenomenal musicians and we are interpreting the greatest music of all time. Songs by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Cole Porter form the foundation on which modern pop music is based, yet performing these songs demands a style of showmanship and virtuosity that has been largely forgotten in the mainstream,” he says.
The Katoomba performances coincide with the annual Blue Mountains Ukulele Festival and Tin Pan Alley puts the humble ukulele front and centre of a highly accomplished hot jazz band. This is something Santangelo sees as a fitting metaphor for the legacy of the music.
“The uke is so unassuming; it evokes the beauty of simplicity. It’s also second only to the kazoo in terms of accessibility,” he says. “This show is the perfect vehicle for celebrating the respectable musicality of the ukulele without losing its connection to humour and simplicity.
“The Tin Pan Alley era was all about that same winning combination – musical genius rendered unpretentious by an overwhelming sense of fun.”
The comedy and theatre is an extension of the Godfrey Uke character Santangelo has been developing over many years. For three years the group has been performing music with a theatrical bent – at events like the Sydney Festival and Sydney Writers’ Festival – but this show is more finely tuned. It offers a modern take on the cross- disciplinary quality of entertainment common to musical revues in the early to mid Twentieth Century.
Dinner and Show tickets are available for $79 via the Hotel Blue and Roaring 20s Festival websites. Ticket price includes a three-course meal developed especially for the show by the culinary experts at Sisters Blue Restaurant.
Adelaide Fringe Festival