Melbourne Cabaret Festival: ‘To Wit – Funny Songs Thru the Ages’

Escape from the dark nights of winter as you return to another age where the clink of champagne glasses and twinkle of the ivories was all that accompanied easy nights of witty repartee and elegant entertainment. Yes, it’s New Yorker Steve Ross, aka the Crown Prince of Cabaret, touring his delicate and imitable concoction of musical ditties in ‘To Wit: Funny Songs Throughout The Ages‘ at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

Ross performs songs and stories from the great Transatlantic age of music in Europe and America. Be regaled by words of wisdom and irony from the likes of Noel Coward, Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and other undiscovered experts. Revel in the torrid tales of failed love and ambitious social types, through songs such as ‘Mrs Worthington’, ‘Taking A Bath in the Blues’, and ‘Home Sweet Heaven’.

From the glint of glossy black on his grand piano’s top to the patina of his patented leather shoes, this tuxedoed theatrical raconteur par excellence has got it all nailed. There are tales of unrequited love, pushy stage mothers, exes contacting you from the afterlife, and love in the animal kingdom. His voice is deep and lustrous, one that only years spent entertaining crowds could produce. His knowledge of music and piano performance skill is superlative.

Ross’ demeanour is classy and affable. His lovely old-fashioned banter between songs is easy and intimate. He tells stories which are just as entertaining as the song narratives, and surprises with his veracity and sources. The songs relate tales from amorous suitors who lament the cost of feeding the modern woman they court; love songs in Latin from the 12th Century; the mating life of dolphins; oysters and other aphrodisiacs; and the sheer brilliance of the witty putdown told between the keys in both minor and major chords.

Anglophiles the world over exclaim that at last something ‘civilised’ is showing for their pleasure, and we have it in our little town as part of this winter’s wondrous Cabaret Festival. Get your finest shoes out, dust off your hat, and sport your cravat neck-tie/ beaded dress as you step back into the early 20th century to hear of the follies of modern man. Little has changed.

You will laugh gleefully as you enjoy the wonderful tales of human foibles these magic musicians created for our eternal listening pleasure as told by an aficionado as exemplar of the era.

– Sarah
Sarah W. is a dance-trained theatre lover with a flair for the bold, and non-traditional performance platforms. On-the-street or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope!

To Wit: Funny Songs Throughout The Ages‘ runs 23-25 June at 8:15pm at Chapel Off Chapel, Prahran. Book tickets now.

Read our guide to the best acts of the 2016 Melbourne Cabaret Festival.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Purple Media.
Photo credit: Steve Ross/Riverfront Times.