Adelaide Cabaret Festival – An Evening With Molly Ringwald

Molly Ringwald. Image supplied.
Molly Ringwald. Image supplied.

The “children of the ‘80s” (as baby-boomer child of the ‘60s Joan Baez so eloquently put it at the seminal ‘80s event Live Aid) are now into or fast approaching their 40s. At 45, ‘80s starlet Molly Ringwald certainly qualifies.

The actor from ‘80s hits such as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club is making her Australian stage debut as a cabaret chanteuse and the girl can certainly hold a note with a pleasant tone but the only thing cabaret here was all on stage. That in itself is an improvement on last year’s Festival with its faux-cabaret settings for what were otherwise simple concerts (Ziggy springs to mind – a few tables and chairs placed out-of-place at the front of the stage).

Backed by a four-piece band Ringwald walked on stage in a slinky red dress to a warm reception. Ringwald chose some interesting numbers such as the Hoagy Carmichael’s I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes) with its lyrics completely derived from a poem by Jane Brown Thompson, a story that Ringwald explains. This song is on Ringwald’s first CD Except Sometimes, which she shamelessly hawks throughout the show. Highlights of the evening include her singing in French and singing Billie Holiday’s My Old Flame of which she says, “If you’re on tour long enough you actually run into them”

Ringwald’s banter is strong and demanding and she enjoys all of the natural confidence of an American but, strangely, she seems to suffer some of the anxiety as well. Her demeanour during songs seemed uptight as if she was hiding something or being too careful not to hit a wrong note or the wrong mood and it wasn’t until the final song Don’t You (Forget About Me) that she finally relaxed – although conceivably, that might have been relief. Undoubtably, that song was also the highlight of the evening.

The band was professional to say the least. Pianist Peter Smith also proves to be an excellent arranger but Mike Stewart on saxophone takes the honours for musical excellence.

An Evening With Molly Ringwald is about more than the music though – it’s all about Molly. Her personal history, her parents, her kids, her husband and her philosophy on life, love and art.

Ultimately Ringwald is performing here for the star-pull rather than the substance but if you know the ‘80s . . . well, if it feels good – do it!