Let your hair down this summer with the La Soirée team and their new show – set in, on and around Sydney's loosest new bar
La Soirée having sold out three previous seasons at the Opera House, and the conventional wisdom being that you don’t fix what’s not broken, it’s courageous of Brett Haylock and his team to create a brand-new show to fill the Studio this summer.
Club Swizzle has many of the same ingredients – the core elements of sex, comedy and skill, served short and fast; some of the same performers – but takes a bar as its set, setting and theme. One upside of this is that you won’t have to walk far for the bar – it’s the stage in front of you, and it’s serving cocktails, champers and wine pre-show and during the interval.
Haylock has said that the concept for Swizzle came from the performers he lined up, whose “natural habitat, where they shine brightest", was a bar. This isn’t – at this stage of the show – much reflected in the content. For the duration of the show, that bar is like any other stage, just a particular shape and with fewer access points perhaps than a podium.
Logistically, the bar format might also have restricted the kinds of acts that have been chosen. For this current iteration of the show (and like La Soirée, we can expect the beast to evolve as the season progresses) there’s four acrobatic, pole-wrangling bar tenders; a leggy dame on silks and later on a behemoth disco ball; a petite dame on aerials; Movin’ Melvin Brown – one-man singing, tapping, tail-feather-shaking entertainment machine; and ‘international cabaret sensation’ Meow Meow. The house band is Mikey Lira and the Nightcaps (two dudes, two dames – hurrah). The host is Murray Hill: adorable, roly-poly, charming, dirty-minded. On opening night there was a crowd-participation slot that work almost unbelievably well.
Club Swizzle has to compete with alt-cabaret shows like Empire, La Soirée (which continues elsewhere), La Clique, and new permutations like Limbo. The current Swizzle line-up doesn’t feel as strong as some of the others out there, and might need some tweaking. The lion’s share of the ‘Wow!’ moments goes to the bartenders, who sweat (possibly vodka) and strut and strive for your applause.
The rowdy, boozy, bent atmosphere that made La Soiree a hit is still there, however, and still pretty irresistible.