Songs on Film opens with a dapper gentleman, Joe Stilgoe, taking a seat at the piano on a darkened stage, and playing out the opening bars of Jaws. We barely had a few moments to chuckle at such an incongruous scene before he launched into a frenetic medley from Star Wars to The Godfather, interspersed with the odd punchline, movie quotes, or laugh-out-loud sound effects; while introducing the rest of his trio of world-class performers on double-bass and drums.
Barely a few minutes in, Joe launches into a jazzy version of Trainspotting‘s theme song, while effecting a Scottish accent and parody of Ewan McGregor’s monologue ‘Choose Life‘. I was won over, positively giddy with excitement and delight.
Joe and his trio take us on very personal tour of his love affair with cinema and music. There are anecdotes of his first memories of going to the cinema in his hometown; an interactive game show where we have to guess the opening fanfare or tune to the movie studio; tap dancing, and a lot more.
Joe does many things, and all of them incredibly well. His voice is outstanding. He is a virtuoso at the piano. He is charming and witty, but above all his love for music and interpretation feels so sincere that it is moving. The sum of it all takes shines with precious and rare quality, and is also deeply affecting. My plus one got teary-eyed with his take on a Toy Story 2 song of a doll who has been left behind. It really was a special blend of breathtaking takes on familiar tunes, combined with the nostalgia of being transported to our own memories in cinema.
Our only regret was that the performance was limited to one hour. With Joe almost apologising for having to finish so briefly, it felt as if he had so much more he would want us, the audience, to experience.
Songs on Film has a short run in the Melbourne Cabaret Festival, with the last show on Thursday 17 June at Chapel off Chapel, before Joe takes his act to Adelaide for a couple more shows. Absolutely buy a ticket and go watch him if you can!
Christian G. is an international man of mystery; lover of books, cats and the performing arts; moonlighting as a finance professional by day.
Read our guide to the best acts of the 2016 Melbourne Cabaret Festival.