Have you ever marvelled at the tuneless contestants who audition for Australian Idol? Encouraged by uncritical endorsements, they put themselves in the spotlight and fearlessly show their obvious deficiencies and that their main talent is being impervious to criticism. It’s a sad and seemingly quite common story that reminds us that wanting to be a star is no substitute for doing the training required.
In Jenny Wynter – An Unexpected Variety Show, Wynter frequently talked about wanting to be a star, and this focus on the endpoint gives her away, certainly after a song or two has gone by. Wynter has a comfortable singing range that is very narrow. High and low notes were consistently not in tune and point to a technical weakness in her sound production. She lists a review quote on her website saying that she could “match the star qualities of Bette Midler or Caroline O’Connor”. I have seen both of these performers and it is quite simply misleading to compare the power and quality of those accomplished voices with Wynter’s, but the quote sure is good for pumping up an ego.
The audience reaction to the comedy aspect of the show barely got above a ripple of laughter in the small but almost full theatre at the Butterfly House. Further, I didn’t see anyone moved to tears on the review night, as claimed in the more effusive reviews. The Adelaide Advertiser review (2 March 2012, Jessica Haynes) made some effort at criticism, “I could feel the audience was itching for more comedy and less cabaret”, but then she does describe Wynter’s voice as “decent” and that “…this show would certainly suit a girl’s night out.” Curiously enough, this review doesn’t appear amongst the glowing tributes compiled on Wynter’s website.
We have been so fortunate in Australia to have many wonderful performers who have brought cabaret to the forefront in recent years: Flat on Your Bacharach, Marika Aubrey, Mitchell Butel, Leah Flanagan, Geraldine Quinn, Mikelangelo – just off the top of my head – that truly deserve to stand out, and not be lumped in to the same basket as this unexpectedly painful variety show by sycophantic public relations exercises masquerading as reviewing.
If you enjoy the work of people performing out of their discipline without the requisite skills then you may enjoy Kevin Bloody Wilson’s staging of Richard III in the future. I’ll give that a miss, I’ve already had the Wynter of my discontent.