Katie Noonan, celebrated lead artist of popular Australian groups George and Elixir, has combined forces with Brisbane based company Circa to create the musically and visually exciting new show Love-Song-Circus. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival audiences enjoyed the world premiere of this new body of work based on the largely undocumented tales of the first women to colonise Australia – “A woman’s story in a man’s time”.
First and foremost: Noonan’s songwriting capabilities are formidable. Anyone with knowledge of her previous musical endeavours will not be disappointed with the innate beauty of her music.
Secondly, her vocal prowess is outstanding. Katie Noonan is well known for her ethereal tones and peaceful numbers like ‘Janet’ highlight this wonderfully. In fact, the world premiere of Love-Song-Circus was so musically exact that it should have been recorded (but the recording, like the live performance would have been disrupted by the noise created by tardy theatergoers)."Noonan’s songwriting capabilities are formidable. Anyone with knowledge of her previous musical endeavours will not be disappointed with the innate beauty of her music"
Thirdly: the arrangements. Noonan plies her trade on the grand piano and is accompanied by the Tulipwood String Quartet, Zoe Hauptmann on double bass and Benjamin Hauptmann on Guitars/Mandolin/Banjo. This combination of musicians enhances the indie folk music and is further highlighted by Noonan’s classical overtones.
The three women of Circa – Kathryn O’Keefe, Kimberly Rossi and Billie Wilson-Coffey – wonderfully, if a little obviously, represent the physical strength of the women convicts. They provide greatly appreciated visual stimulation, and their acts of strength, flexibility and courage at times overshadow Noonan’s lyrics, but always compliment her music.
The two standout musical numbers – ‘Female Transport’ and ‘Ellen’ – were feisty and fun. The numbers possessed a strong folk influence and invigorating energy which contrasted well with the rest of the program.
Of course with Katie Noonan, the music is the focus. But in Love-Song-Circus there is no patter, no spoken word at all, so the thorough programme notes are essential in understanding the production’s premise. The confused faces of the tardy theatergoers – priceless.
The world premiere of Love-Song-Circus featuring Katie Noonan and Circa is not pure cabaret but is a very welcome addition to the Adelaide Cabaret Festival.