Adelaide Cabaret Festival – Tyran Parke: Compositions A Musical Close-Up

Tyran Park. Image by Blueprint Studios
Tyran Park. Image by Blueprint Studios

The neat ideas that come together for cabaret are one of the bonuses of this art form. So often artists are able to explore ideas that would not normally see the light of day on a large stage.

Tyran Parke is an Australian musical theatre performer in his own right and has the vocal talent to back it up.  It just so happens that his brothers are equally artistic, particularly his brother Trent who has been a photographer since he was a child.

Parke has leveraged his connections with composers from New York and Australia to curate music that reflects the subject and style of his brother’s photography. It’s a bit of a fantastic list of composer names that Parke drops throughout the show – Sondheim, Schwartz, Bucchinno, Perfect, Robinson and a heap more. The music theatre geeks (like this reviewer) may well have squealed quietly with every name drop.

Trent Parke’s photography was projected on a large screen above the Adelaide Art Orchestra (led by the most attractive conductor in Australia, Vanessa Scammel) and Tyran introduced each song and series of imagery with a heart-felt passion for the connection that his family shares through art. Parke was joined by Libby O’Donovan and Gareth Keegan to sing the duets, which were a highlight of the night.

While Parke is an accomplished and entertaining performer, it would have been great to have more explanation or insight into the photography rather than just the songs. The audience almost needed a curatorial guide to the artist’s intentions as well as how each composer interpreted them. This left the production feeling half complete – while the half we saw was really well executed, you couldn’t help wanting to know more.

Equally, this reviewer is still dying to hear the song composed by Sondheim given the setup for the night began with the anecdote of Sondheim planting the seed for the concept in the first place. Not to be greedy – the set list was pretty comprehensive as the “who’s who” of the composing world.

A really interesting juxtaposition of visual art and performing art in a cabaret setting. It would be interesting to see the progression of this production in the future as Parke continues to explore these connections.

Hayley Horton

Hayley was an arts worker in South Australia for twelve years working freelance for small to medium clients as well as for companies such as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Theatre Company SA, Urban Myth Theatre of Youth and the Australia Business Arts Foundation. As part of her freelance work, Hayley founded the ATG Curtain Call Awards (which is now an annual gala event), co-produced three 24 Hour Show charity fundraiser events, has judged for the Adelaide Fringe Festival and reviewed for Aussie Theatre and the Adelaide Theatre Guide. Hayley now runs a boutique events and arts management business, Footlight Events and in her spare time, is involved with Adelaide’s amateur theatre community as a producer, performer and director.

Hayley Horton

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