Everything in Emma Dean’s career seems to be going right lately. In 2010 she received The Butterfly Club’s Under Our Wing award and henceforth she’s been receiving rave reviews all the way from her home town of Brisbane to the lights of New York for her recorded music, theatre and cabaret shows. In fact, the New York Post declared her “one of the ten artists to watch” just last year.
Dean describes herself as a “pop-cabaret songstress/circus freak/neo-burlesque anomaly” while reviewers have compared her to Tori Amos, Kate Bush and Rufus Wainwright, and she’s supported acts the likes of Amanda Palmer, Katie Noonan and The Dresden Dolls.
Dean deserves the accolades. Her current cabaret show Stripped (in The Rolling Stones sense of musical and theatrical bare essentials) is an energy-packed fare of Weimar-esque entertainment.
Dean takes us through 5 “scenes” or personalities with a strong voice as crisp and clean as a clear autumn evening in Adelaide. Each scene is distinguished with a costume change and Dean making use of her “Betty the mannequin” clotheshorse in the middle of the stage as Adelaide’s own beautifully buxom Emily Davis sings and moves voluptuously between tables agreeably incorporating the audience into her act.
Dean and Davis deliver an often comical but always delightful carnival of the human spirit, simply furnished by Dean playing piano and Davis strumming guitar. It’s in the penultimate “scene” when these two combine on stage that something very special happens – a rendition of Tori Amos’ ‘Cornflake Girl’ with Dean playing violin at first subtly and effectively then passionately as Davis lovingly accompanies on her guitar.
It is a sexy, sensual and climactic rendition. Stripped deserves more than the two performances allotted in this festival. Dean and Davis charm their way through every moment of the seventy minutes running time, easily confirmed by the sense of fun this show left with every member of its audience.
Emma Dean played at the 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival 13 — 14 June.
For more information visit www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au.