On the face of it, the enigmatic Frances Faye and the rising star Nick Christo have little in common. One was an American cabaret and nightclub star, the other won the Sydney Cabaret Showcase in 2005 and has been quietly building up a strong reputation in the theatre world.
Dig a little deeper, and you will find some striking similarities. Both are remarkable and unique talents, who engage audiences in such a way that they never feel safe. Both are something of extreme characters, unlike any other.
Christo’s popular cabaret show The Fabulous Frances Faye, which is currently playing in Sydney at the Belvoir Street Theatre, is a wonderful tribute to a remarkable person.
“The show itself takes the form of one of her live jazz shows here in the 1960s, we try and celebrate her and her music without trying to imitate her, though she was such an outrageous character. She was into everything and everyone,” Christo said.
“She actually helped a lot of Australian performers too, like Peter Allen and Lana Cantrell. She helped to launch both of them in the United States. You can see her influence on Peter Allen so clearly, they apparently had such a great friendship.”
Nominated for a 2008 Sydney Theatre Critics Award for Best Cabaret, the show was a hit at both the Sydney Mardi Gras and Adelaide Cabaret Festivals and returns from a sell-out New York season at Manhattan’s iconic Don’t Tell Mama.
Christo said the idea for the show came quite by chance.
“The concept came about while I was listening to one of her live recordings (Caught in the Act) and I was completely blown away by how incredible she was and how fresh her arrangements were,” he said.
“Here was an old vinyl recording from the 1950s and this woman was like nothing I had ever heard, she was incomparable.”
Faye’s outlandish style, cutthroat vocals and quips saw her rise from mobster gin joints in the 1920s to become the phenomenon of clubs across the US in the early ’60s. Dressed in a tuxedo, Christo re-creates the essence of Faye.
The Fabulous Frances Faye is at the Belvoir Street Theatre until February 12. Bookings: (02) 9699 3444.